It’d be silly not to do some kind of “last nail in the coffin” retrospecive of 2010, as this really was the year in which we were all supposed to be able to travel to work in glass suction tubes or ride hoverboards about in our spare time. As it is, in London at least we’re still very much able to ride to work in a Tube, which sucks. Not what we were promised though.
Beginning the year in Melbourne wasn’t a bad start at all, and though thunderstorms prevented us ushering the year in with a show by From The Ashes, popping up to Aaron’s Southbank flat to watch the fireworks at close range was a surefire winner.
An extremely welcome bonus was my first ever flight upgrade from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi – I was definitely the most well-behaved person in Business Class that flight, with the ever-present paranoia of being busted back to cattle foremost in my mind. Still, it was extremely nice while it lasted. My in-flight meal selection was duck & summer vegetable mille-feuilles in a Modena balsamic syrup, followed by Fakhed mashshi khodra (ordered carefully by me as “the lamb, please”) which is a filled lamb loin with kabsa rice, vine tomatoes and a minted lamb jus, and the dessert quattro. And, what’s more, it all looked and tasted like real food, instead of the usual slab of soylent green you get. Accompanied by a glass or 3 of Langmeil “Earthworks” shiraz. Upon landing in Abu Dhabi however there was no way my upgraded ticket would confer on me access to the Etihad Lounge: a fact punctuated by the doorman’s laugh, and the phrase “I’m afraid not, sir”.
With an Australian trip recently in the can it was very hard to justify a further week in the snow, but Richie, Johan, Helen and I snuck in a cheeky weekend in Salen, Sweden, which was enough to at least stave off the feeling of longing one gets for sliding down hills on planks.
A prevailing theme for the year has very much been booze, kicked off by the Qype “Meet the Brewer” session at The Gunmakers, where two important things happened – I got to meet brewer extraordinaire Andy Moffatt of Redemption Brewery, and fate decreed I should meet Mr Andy Tate. The reason this is significant is that we spoke of the idea of a whisky tasting club, and this conversation was the catalyst which caused Whisky Squad to be brought into being in April. As far as we can tell, it all seems to be going well so far, with our 10th session taking place on Thursday. If you’re ever wondering how you can meet a load of interesting and dynamic people in the whisky business, I can highly recommend starting a whisky club! Already my 2011 has 2 major whisky events plotted in, and dancing around the idea of a 3rd one in Germany.
One of the other whisky-related goings on I was lucky enough to sniff around was The Whisky Show – an event which no genuine whisky enthusiast should consider missing. Though the ticket price seems fairly steep (￡95 for the day), it’s utterly worth it and as Darren The Whisky Guy says, “If you don’t drink at least ￡200 worth of whisky at that show, you’ve done it wrong”.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep my liver busy, Dave and I also embarked on writing a series of articles for The Londonist website entitled London Beer Quest – the purpose of which is to share some of London’s excellent brewing culture with the people at large, and again it has enabled us to meet some fascinating and dynamic people, visit some absolute gems of historical pubs, and given us an excuse for a crafty beer or 3 in the meantime.
Travel-wise it’s been a slightly quieter year for me – going to Australia over Christmas last year, and then popping back again for a week in May for Nicko & Kelly’s wedding, chewed up most of my potential leave and budget for international shennanigans. One MASSIVE highlight though was going up to Edinburgh with Hannah, Paul, and Anna once again to check out the Edinburgh Festivals.
Another reason for calming down on the travel front is that at the end of April I finally decided to move on from my job with Quest and The Arts Council England, where I’d been for almost 5 years, and take up a new role with a London project management consultancy, working with Microsoft Project Server and the .Net platform. They’re a great bunch of people, and it’s been very enjoyable and an exhilarating learning curve so far… so lets see where that takes us, eh?
Gig-wise, despite my intentions to slow down on going to every show that takes place within the M-25, it’s been a great year. Some highlights were:
- having opportunity to see Robert Plant and the Band Of Joy not once, but twice (and both within my local neighbourhood, as well!). Namely, Kentish Town Forum and then again at the BBC Radio 2 Electric Proms!
- braving the last vestiges of my bubonic plague to trek out to the O2 Arena to see the orchestral concert of musical comedy wunderkind Tim Minchin. It seems ironic how many people worship Tim like a god, in light of him being an outspoken atheist.
- Going to Kentish Town Forum to see another musical comedy legend, parodist-par-excellence Weird Al Yankovic.
- As hinted before, 4 days at Edinburgh Festival was amazing, and an excellent selection of gigs gave us a great balance between comedy, art, and festival-only mindfucks.
- It was a great privilege to have the chance to see Daniel Kitson in full swing this year – back in January in a freezing Union Chapel with his humanistic meander “We Are Gathered Here”, twice at his theatre show “66a Church Road – a lament made of memories and kept in suitcases”, doing off the cuff standup/compering at a benefit gig for Cardboard Citizens, and at Edinburgh Festival with his brilliant examination of intersecting lives “It’s Always Now Until It’s Later”. I got to shake his hand in Edinburgh, and turned into a simpering mouth-breathing eedjit.
- The bar for gig craziness was well and truly set deep into the ceiling after going to Wembley Arena with Brett to see German maniacs Rammstein put on a complete rocking firestorm.
- the weekend long rationalist/humanist conference The Amazing Meeting (aka TAM London) was a fascinating, inspiring and amusing and was a great opportunity to hear some fantastic speakers.
Being the slacker I am, I seldom get to blogging everything I get to, and I’m not much more reliable with my camera, but quite often I get a shot gallery of the stuff I’ve been to up on Flickr.
Morris dancing’s still rocking along in spectacular fashion, with a very busy calendar once again in 2010 featuring trips up to South Shields (near Newcastle), Chester, the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, along the South Bank with the world famous Hammersmith Morris Men (a most enjoyable evening, bar the moanings of one particular idiot) and a visit from what the Westminster Morris Men refer to as “those bastards responsible”, the Adelaide Morris Men. I didn’t get a chance to get out on tour with them this time (owing to having to dash back to Adelaide) but did have opportunity to dance out with them in Moulton, in South London (with New Esprance), and at Westminster Abbey (with Westminster and East Surrey). And it’d be foolish not to mention that in May I organised my last Day of Dance in Central London for Westminster, where we had about 200 visiting morris men marauding about central London and finishing with a very impressive massed show in Trafalgar Square.
And, in no means last in importance, in August I started seeing a very nice girl indeed.
So, looking at it like that, 2011 is going to have to be pretty damn impressive to top that lot. Although I do like a challenge.
(And a huge thankyou to the cast of thousands who help make my inordinately fun life this much fun – if you suspect you’re one of them then there’s a good chance you are, and I absolutely couldn’t do it without you. And nor would I want to.)