This is my review of 2018, and the eighteenth year that I’ve filled in this questionnaire at the end of the year. Which means I’m double that age. Also, that I’ve been an adult for as long as I was a child. Good grief…
1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
- Owned a driving licence.
- Worn boxing gloves.
- Learned about three words of Scottish gaelic (random chain of thought + anxiety + procrastination on YouTube = fun new discoveries)
- Felt I’d truly and finally broken free of some difficult former influences. Not all of them entirely, but certainly of the worst one by far. And the others are dead, so they can’t do much from where they are…
- For one of few years I can recall in my adult life, feel I might be starting to live, more than exist.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I wanted a functioning business and to send my first book out to agents. Both of which happened, of a fashion. Of course, it’s a little more nuanced than that, but isn’t it always…
Next year I’d like a business that’s still functioning, a permanent home of some sort, to write my second book, to get an agent (more likely with my second book than my first, I’m told…), and to feel like I could fall in love with someone again. Or at least have some more clarity on the future feasibility of all these things…
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? One of my oldest friends had a baby I’ve yet to meet.
4. Did anyone close to you die? My last living grandparent made it to 97.
5. What countries did you visit? Mum and I were treated to a girls’ holiday in Cannes, where we ate and drank ourselves silly. Despite being near the end of September, it was still baking.
6. What would you like to have had in 2018 that you lacked? Only the usual alternate universe where things which have never been simple for me are simple, and where I don’t have to think about Brexit. Or death. Or any alternate universes in which my life could look very different. Getting turned down flat for a Fellowship didn’t bother me in the end as I’ll probably be too busy anyway…
7. What date from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The meetings I had when I was setting up my business – less dull than it sounds, I promise. My driving tests (all four of them…). A gin tour near Whitchurch. The week in Cannes. My work visit to Manchester and Liverpool (Loved Liverpool – especially seeing my friend, and having dinner at Down The Hatch). A belated birthday day out with my best friend. A coffee with a writer friend who’s 50 and single and furnished me with much food for thought.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Launching Genuine Copy. Sending my first book to agents. Passing my driving test. Making freelancing start to work for me. The publication of and wonderful response to Finding The Words, a new resource I co-wrote aimed at supporting people bereaved by suicide. And seeing a leading actor holding it on stage with him at a conference, while giving an immensely moving talk about a personal tragedy. Continuing to try and make my body do new and different things without feeling awkward, namely horseriding and kickboxing.
9. What was your biggest failure? I’m entering my third year or thereabouts of internally speculating over whether someone is avoiding meaningful contact with me on purpose or just due to life being life. Relatedly, see also, my love-hate relationship with Twitter.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Most happily, no.
11. What was the best thing you bought? During the heatwave, after narrowly failing my second driving test and doing worse in my third, I took the train out to a gin distillery in Hampshire and had a guided tour in the afternoon sun, followed by a gin cocktail the size of a human head. It was blissful.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? Anyone who went out of their way to make a positive difference in the world. Which, happily, is an awful lot of wonderful people I know.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? A veritable shower of politicians.
14. Where did most of your money go? Learning to drive, or into savings.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? An incredibly late invoice for the last of my money from a summer project being paid just before Christmas.
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2018?
- Girlfriend by Christine and the Queens.
- Bones of Ribbon by London Grammar.
- Star Roving by Slowdive.
- Red Rain, In Your Eyes, Steam and Big Time by Peter Gabriel who consequently has spent more time in my head this year than I knew any middle-aged married man healthily could.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you…?
– Happier or sadder? Happier.
– Thinner or fatter? Similar.
– Richer or poorer? Richer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Being a confident driver. Being a confident anything.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Procrastinating. Fearing admin. Being mistaken for the wife of people I’m not married to just because I’m A Bit Intense.
20. How will you be spending New Year? I wanted to make my peace with Durham and go back for the first time since my 30th in 2014, but making peace with Durham turned out to be immorally expensive. So my friend is coming here instead. Hurrah!
21. Did you fall in love in 2018? It would be nice to think I could in future without exacerbating a lot of guilt, grief and might-have-beens, and generally undoing the good work of a lot of therapy.
Oh, and on that note: If you think that a single woman in her thirties constitutes a threat to your relationship, maybe try considering she might be single for a whole host of painful reasons, including being in recovery from years of life-limiting anxiety, depression and complicated grief, and would rather swim through a lake of nuclear waste than go on Tinder, let alone go to the effort of stealing anyone’s partner. Also, try ascertaining this information from said woman herself, rather than from other people behind her back. Also, try growing up.
22. How many one-night stands? What, actually, does this really mean? Is it sex that you don’t want to repeat (because it was bad), that you can’t repeat (because it was taboo), or that you can’t quite be bothered to repeat (because you can’t be bothered with a relationship)? I’ve never figured that out. I always thought it was the first. Either way, zero.
23. What was your favourite TV or radio programme? McMafia, Bodyguard, Killing Eve, Informer and Clique.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I try not to hate anyone. But if you think Brexit is a good idea I am ever closer to hating you and find it ever harder to want to know you. Please try to understand why.
25. Do you like anyone now that you didn’t like this time last year? Possibly. I much prefer having been wrong about awful people to awful people being awful.
26. What was the best book you read? Probably more than one, but I’d single out Small Pieces by Joanne Limburg. Recommended to me as part of the support my Arts Council bursary gave me, and I’m mightily glad it was. Among the best of the considerable amount of writing on suicide bereavement I’ve read. She comes at it from a Jewish sibling perspective, which is not mine. But still so much resonated…
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? For “great” as in “greatly embarrassing I didn’t know before”, I discovered Mabel is Neneh Cherry’s daughter.
28. What did you want and get? My driving licence. How confidently I use it remains to be seen…
29. What did you want and not get? A literary agent.
30. What was your favourite film of this year? As usual, I wanted to see more films than I went to see.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 34 in mid-June, when it was hot but just before the big mad heatwave. There was a family trip to Kenwood House.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Less paralysing anxiety over admin and emails.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018? Dressing up for the evening in Cannes to noughties pop I hated when I supposed to like it was fun.
34. Who kept you sane? If you’ve read this far, almost certainly you. Well done.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? If you wouldn’t give Paddy Considine or Keeley Hawes the night of their lives, what are you even doing in my life.
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Guess…
37. Who did you miss? If you need to know, you probably do.
38. Who was the best new person you met? If you’re reading this and we met this year, probably you.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018: These three years of weekly therapy have been a great idea…
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up 2018:
“Here am I, home at last with a golden view / Looking for hope, and I hope it’s you / Splitting my heart, cracked right in two / The pleasure of pain endured to purify our misfit ways and magnify our crystal days…” Crystal Days, Echo and the Bunnymen