2016 was not an annus mirabilis for FaceOmeter, but that’s okay – it wasn’t an annus mirabilis for anyone else (nice) either. Given world events, it feels even more self-indulgent than usual to draw attention to the benighted progress of a white, male singer-songwriter; compared to what others are living through, “I only wrote four songs” is positive tickertape fodder. There are other senses in which my unproductive and unenjoyable year was an extraordinarily privileged one: I have a house, now, and there’s a cat who lives in the house, and I pay extra to have garden waste removed. There are profound upsides and downsides to all three, but fundamentally it’s good.
I also rediscovered the baked egg; bought card sleeves and a hat on the back streets of Huddersfield; varnished a floor; got up early to look at the wreck of an incompetantly-designed ship; took an abbreviated tour of Cardiff’s major arcades; bought a deckchair; queued for twenty minutes in a hotel ballroom and then left as soon as I got to the bar; swam with an actual wild dolphin; carried a whole tree; accidentally shared a cab with a major novelist; did a midnight dorm party in Lancaster; smashed up a light fixture; fought knotweed; established a games night; bought a record on spec because it was for sale in the pub where it was made (it was good); got given nuts by the world’s fastest airline stewardess; watched the pterodactyls in a geodesic garden; publicly interviewed a television personality; saw a light sculpture of a lily pond on an actual lily pond; got taken out for an alcohol-free Lebanese; danced like a maniac to the Psychadelic Christmas (not for the first time); hung out on the most gratifyingly dog-heavy beach in the South West; was made egg tea in a Badger’s den; fed the pigs; noted hammocks and chalk on a sunset campus square walk; woke up at a chicken farm; went to sleep in the basement of a deli; crafted far too much game pie; did an ad hoc performance with the brides at a garden wedding; MC’d a Victorian slideshow; rued the ill-preparedness of Duncan; failed to see the Mappa Mundi; picked wild domesticated raspberries and made amazing jam out of them; battled illness to play supergrass chords in a fake Cuban village; bought ice cream from my alma mater; got a hero of mine to draw herself as a stick figure; invented a video game in a twisty Cornish garden; flew in a chair over the city of Stockholm; cried at a puppet bear; toured a hydropathic museum with an Egyptology section and Michael Fassbender’s coat; returned to an alligator golf course; got a summerhouse; greeted a rooster who was roosting on a shed threshold (Bernard for life); ate buffet near a famous comedian I like (didn’t say hi); cowered before the Kate Bush impersonator; made a sulky phone call to catering in a geology museum; sat up late discussing periodicals with a bluegrass afficionado; took the lead in a rainy boule championship; ate concept amuses bouche in a super dapper restaurant; chained an extraordinary amount of bedridden Netflix (The Expanse season 1 in a single day kids); stopped for chips in Stoke’s Croft; got some gluten free vegetarian fish and chips; hunted Pokemon on the set of Doc Martin; followed a trail of blood past Birmingham Cathederal just before a Dracula screening; and saw the only dodo soft tissue in existence. There was definitely more than that, of course – this, as ever, is a sampling, a random collection of most- and least-notable moments. Reading it through, though, does restore in me some kind of hope for the next twelve months. I certainly hope they are kind to you!