Every New Year’s Eve, I take advantage of the opportunity to cryptically list what I’ve been up to in the last twelvemonth, and this year it’s one hell of a post. Though the year has been full of defeat and rejection, it has in many senses been one of my most action-packed to date (in keeping with last year’s resolution). So it’s my pleasure to tell you that in 2013 I saw seals on a sandy beach and sea lions on a wooden jetty; accidentally walked through the set of Iron Man 3; saw silent fireworks over the wing of a budget airliner; held rings at a wedding ceremony and bought more from a jeweller’s; picked up my first 3D pokemon; debuted a song in the top room of an ancient college tower; rose with the lark to swim in a gym that looked like a boat and pick wildflowers in coastal ruins; ate at Obama’s favourite barbecue place; got frantic in a May sunrise; reunited with old friends in the face of gourmet curry; took a china cow outside; escaped purple lions; watched the stars come out in Horspath; borrowed giant slippers in a narrowboat; visited a tiny aquarium and a huge one; finally started using serious video editing software; ate an exceptionally huge 50s banana split; narrowly escaped death amidst the freight containers of West Oakland; got sunburn in Newcastle; learnt prosody at last; walked straight past the world’s largest imported cheese; rode two different American rapid transit systems; launched my first crowdfunding campaign; devised my first university syllabus; returned to a teepee after a rousing chorus of ‘Because the Night’ with a Crumpet Merchant; scoffed fake wotsits whilst revealing the extent of my ignorance about Vietnam; stood under the stars listening to d-ream pumping out of a C17th banqueting hall; chanced upon a bad lion in the best way imaginable; failed to preserve a special piece of cake from a ravening belly dog; got Dissed by the train network on New Year’s Eve; did crosswords in Christchurch meadow with a pile of Mexican food; piloted a light aircraft over Gloucestershire; used a cinema as a green room; raced against a lawnmower to sing Dylan Thomas lyrics in a building opened by Brian Eno; lost well over 50p in a 2p arcade; snuggled with a Siamese; collaborated with one of my favourite artists on a song about turtles and came eye to eye with a real one; returned from a venison forest smelling of firewood; failed to gain access to the house of ‘The Dead’ and the tower from the start of Ulysses; participated in the theft of a minor piece of agricultural equipment; brought chipfish into a nautical cellar pub where they did salsa later; lectured on Victorian poetry; filled a moleskine; flew through an unending sunset to check tire pressures; got looked at by a liger; played elevator music in a giant flamingo costume; entered the futuristic world of Android; sat round a corrugated canalside bonfire listening to a trad music session; survived a banquet at which I was unexpectedly seated two down from my old biology teacher; inhabited a nook; watched smoke-filled bubbles pop against the sunset; sold my first guitar; watched the entire first season of Scott and Bailey in a single night; attempted (unsuccessfully) to take a selfie with Paris, France on my shoulder; picked up jazz chords; went in a hot tub in a tropical thunderstorm; accidentally attended the retirement party of the head usher of the Irish parliament (in the private bar of the Irish parliament); failed to witness an urban dance-off; got buzzed by a red kite; successfully navigated of Scorpion Swamp; cruised a real swamp in a hovering airboat; briefly impersonated Gaz from Supergrass in Leicester; saw him in a co-op in rural Oxfordshire (?); rode a ferris wheel at the end of route 66; voyaged in the gondola of a bestselling nineteenth-century spiritualist, piloted by an authentic Venetian; swam with ducks under hot air balloons; desperately sought mobile phone signal in a Welsh valley; faked interest in a stately home full of wood-burning stoves; downloaded a large number of pictures of the Megalosaurus; casually picked fresh spinach; saw a real live hero open a library in my hometown; trousered the ending of Mass Effect 3; watched a 50s horror film amidst the Smoky Mountains; joined my first picket line; threw a pear in the Taff; carried a cardboard box through a dinosaur theme park; sucked at ping pong in two separate locations; had a modelling photoshoot in an abandoned crazy golf course; ate too many matchmakers at a desert-themed film festival; got given a Christmas card; and perhaps most importantly, installed a whiteboard. I remembered, better than usual I think, that there’s always a tonne of amazing stuff that never makes it onto these lists, and was constantly grateful for all of it.
I had some ideas and even put a few into practice. I wrote some songs, and some words, but there’s always more to do. Next year promises to be even more insane – and not just because of the new album lurking on the horizon! But my resolutions are a bit more personal this year, and so I’m not sharing them here. I hope that whatever yours are, they come out on top – and I hope your 2014 is as awesome as mine is going to be!