It’s nearly Christmas, isn’t it.

I think that means I am going to make a long-ass post about the stuff I liked that has happened and that people did this year and how things have gone so far.

Stuff I have liked in the world this year:

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Fantasy Football

Ahh, I have had very little except scorn about this one from most people who know me, but screw it. Haters gonna hate. This time last year I knew next to nothing about football and I was perfectly fine with that. Then I ended up dating a football nut and decided that, instead of ignoring it, I would try and learn a little about it by playing Fantasy Football and, hey. Building a FF team isn’t a million miles away from building a character for D&D or other more nerdy fare that I am familiar with.  Now I still know next to nothing, but I also know who Michu is and that he plays for Swansea, Van Persie is some sort of elfin prince who has been gifted to the world of soccer by the god of  legs and that I don’t like Stoke City as a football team because, frankly, they play pretty dirty.

It’s kind of like a new language. Most things I try to talk about in Footballish come out pretty broken and clumsily, but I am sort of conversational now and, you know what? It’s quite interesting once you know a bit about it. I won’t be swapping my sci-fi novels and knitting for wall-to-wall league two coverage any time soon, but it’s nice to have introduced myself to an aspect of the world that I had disregarded as ‘not for me’ and found it to be acceptable. Or something.

 David Hockney

His grasp of colour theory just does things to me. The  Royal Academy’s exhibition of his work was huge and stunning.

9781596435520Anya’s Ghost – Vera Brosgal

Okay, I know this came out summer 2011, but I got it for Christmas and was hooked. Having been that awkward, sport-averse teenager who’s desperately trying to fit in my heart went out to Anya. The twist in the story genuinely left me feeling creeped-out (pretty difficult as I laugh at almost everything that’s meant to be scary. Jaded by years of Creepy Pasta I suppose). if you haven’t got around to reading this one yet, you ought to.

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The Lengths – Howard Hardiman

I have to declare a personal interest when mentioning this one as for the best part of last year and up until May of this year I was helping Howard out for a couple of days a week on this. Emailing around and trying to get people to review it, that sort of stuff. I feel very privileged to’ve been involved with such an interesting series of comics and it’s great to see the thing finally finished.

Eddie makes me think of so many people I know, including myself. He’s a twenty-something who’s leapt into a situation before he’s really looked at it and how he feels about it. He’s also everyone who’s spent a time pretending to be something they know in their hearts they’re not. Who can’t relate to that? There’s more about this one at thelengths.com. Go and have a look.

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 Chess. Playing it.

This time last year I could not play chess. I could sing various songs about it, but it was all a bit beyond me. Now I have a fide elo rating (a very low one) and know what a passed pawn is and everything. It is omigod SO frustrating but also so much fun. if you’ve never played chess before, just do it. And if you haven’t played since you were a kid, also do it. It’s great. Let me know if you fancy a game.

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Obvious, but the Olympics was absolutely amazing. The opening ceremony in particular was beyond brilliant. I was lucky enough to see the dress rehearsal from a tiny enclosure at the base of the central stage. The opening scenes as seen from the ground were breath-taking and something I’ll remember forever.

I know there was a lot of cynicism and grumbling about the Olympics and there was certainly a less savoury side to the games (rooftop missiles and whole communities displaced from their homes aren’t exactly the best bits), but there really is something thoroughly inspirational about watching someone who has trained for years for one moment finally reaching that point and bossing it. Simple, but true.

Other things that have been great have included discovering Grimes, Bradley Wiggins’ sideburns, the word ‘omnishambles’ and the Dachshund UN.

How the year’s been for me

Okay, cue some navel-gazing: I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets a slightly wobbly feeling in the depths of their guts at this time of year. Something to do with the annual regularity of celebrating the death of a year and the rebirth of a new, fresh shiny one. It tends to make one feel somewhat introspective about things. I often think I get an extra whammy of this because my birthday is between Christmas and New Year, so I get to numerically age at the same time.  I know it’s a good year when I’ve accepted all of this a month in advance and I feel like I’ve made reassuring progress in my life. If this has happened, I’m relatively relaxed over the holidays. I feel like I’ve earned that Christmas pud. It’s mine by goddamn right and so’s the right to get utterly mashed on New Year’s Eve and dance around to the Spice Girls like a ten year old who’s buzzing her nut off on cherry panda pops and star mix.

If I haven’t made progress you’re more likely to find me in a quiet room, plotting how I am going to hit January. In the face. With a baseball bat.

So, how’s this year gone? I’m somewhere between the two extremes I think. It’s been a year of huge change, mostly completely unexpected. I lost my home just before the Olympics and moved in with my boyfriend who, a few weeks after that happened, became my fiance which is something I never expected to have, ever, as I have been notoriously skeptical about marriage since childhood. Whilst that was unfolding I also took the scary step of going freelance, which has been okay but boy is it tough. Between commissions I completed issue 2 of The Peckham Invalids, self-published my first solo comic (only small, but with lots to be following it with now), island-hopped around Greece, went to Belgium (everyone ought to visit Brugge at least once in their lives. Seriously), saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, skied in Austria, danced about to Radiohead in Portugal and drank eye-wateringly expensive fizzy wine on St Mark’s Square, Venice. It’s been a great year for seeing bits of the world I’ve always wanted to see. The year has also included outing myself over my opinions on body hair, attempting music journalism, trying to learn the names of all the countries and their capital cities (partially successful, but I still always forget Fiji’s capital – Suva btw) and attending loads and LOADS of pub quizzes.

Things I have not done that I set out to do at the start of the year include reading at least 30 books (I’ve barely finished 15 really), publishing the first part of a long-running story that I need to tell (put on the back burner to let it mature a bit whilst I work on smaller stuff … may or may not be a good idea, but it feels like I need to do some head-cleaning before I get on and tell that one) and getting onto a TV quiz show. I don’t think this is the end of the world, but I’d like to nail these next year.  The thing I am most sad about is not getting to see the people I really wanted to see as much as I ought to’ve. I need to make sure I get that one right next year. People are great.

Internet, between you and me, I think I’d give myself an 8/10 this year. I’m okay with that, but I’d like to try for 10/10 in 2013. I won’t be hiding in a darkened room with my calendar stretched out in front of me, but I might not be bringing in the new year by swinging my knickers around my head in the centre of the dance floor without a care in the world.

So, in conclusion:

2012 has been an excellent year largely for reasons I had not been expecting. Everyone else has been simply brilliant and I think I have been chugging along quite nicely. I hope wherever you are you’re in a similarly pleasant state of mind as you head into the Christmas period and that, assuming we all survive the apocalypse on Friday, your 2013 will kick even more arse than your 2012 did.

xx

dancedancedance

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