It occurs to me that I didn't post a review of 2011 a year ago. Perhaps at the time I was suffering from the trauma of my approaching 50th birthday, but no matter the reason for last year's aberration it's now time for a review of my 2012. I didn't post here much during the year so, although some of what I'm about to mention has already been aired publically, more trivia than usual might be new. That newness doesn't necessarily make it interesting, of course, and since this Blog is probably more designed as a vehicle for me to get things off my chest occasionally, this latest in my series of year reviews is a chance for me to sit, think, and remember what the preceding 12 months held for me, so I apologise if this post holds no interest and if that's the case please feel free to surf to somewhere else more interesting for the moment!
As ever what follows is a bit of a stream of consciousness, in no particular order other than as things occur to me while I type. And doubtless I'll have missed things which, if they involved you, I apologise for not mentioning. It doesn't mean they were any less enjoyable or important, it's just that my memory is a bit suspect sometimes!
Going back a bit beyond the 12 months, towards the end of 2011 I got my beloved motorcycle back on the road after a year and a half and my big plan, possibly THE big plan of 2012, was to do a grand tour of the UK on it, partly visiting friends around the country in the process, including (in absolutely no order of precedence, just roughly clockwise round the island) Elgin, Turriff, Morpeth, Newcastle upon Tyne, Ripon, York, Lincoln, Cambridge, London, Reading, Salisbury, Portsmouth, Wells, and the Lake District. So how many did I manage to visit? Well, just York if the truth be told, and that was only because I was singing in the Minster as a representative of RSCM Scottish Voices at a service there! Maybe next year I'll get round a few more of the others. That's not to say I wasn't using the bike, I did use it to to and from York, and managed to get private secure parking in the Minster Yard while I was there - it's not what you know it's who you know - and used it pretty much year round to and from work and for a few trips around Ayrshire and Argyll.
On the downside regarding the bike, last week I returned home very late from a day of socialising in Edinburgh at a friend's 50th birthday lunch/drinks followed by seeing The Hobbit (don't bother, it's shit!), and about 10 minutes after I got into the house, around 1am, having heard a bunch of drunks in the street as I got home, there was a loud bang outside which sounded exactly like an 1100cc BMW motorcycle hitting the deck. Yes, the drunken bastards had kicked my bike over, witnessed by a neighbour, and legged it. The offside mirror is trashed, and since that incorporates the indicator, it's a three figure sum to replace it, so for the moment the bike's been moved to work where it's parked in a secure compound out of danger's way, and I'll get it fixed in due course.
I've already mentioned my 50th birthday and posted about it at length - particularly my thoughts in the lead up to it - so all I'll say now is that I thoroughly enjoyed my party in February, attended as it was by about 100 friends. One thing I've been very slightly disappointed in, I have to confess, is that having invited former school friends, quite a few of whom attended and most of whom are the same age as me, the lack of reciprocal invitations was striking throughout the year. I commented on this in an unrelated email to most of them and one or two replied that they hadn't had 50th birthday parties, but ..........! Inviting people wasn't ever meant as a quid pro quo, but even so it would have been nice to get even one return invitation!
In January I found myself attending a seminar held at Vodafone's HQ in Berkshire, and was quite impressed at the building and particularly at Lewis Hamilton's Formula 1 car on display in the foyer (Vodafone being a main sponsor of the team). I'm going to the 2013 seminar in the same place so I'll see whether it's still there now that he's jumped ship.
Other trips away from home were to Cheltenham for a training course, staying at the Hotel du Vin across from Cheltenham Girls' College (and a very nice hotel it was too), the aforementioned trip to York, and a weekend in Altrincham at the wedding of friends, all of which were very enjoyable.
I continue to sing in Glasgow Chamber Choir, RSCM Scottish Voices and the choir of St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow (who, as I type this, were on BBC Radio 4 this morning singing Morning Worship), and although I didn't join GCC on their weekend trip to sing in Sweden one exceptionally enjoyable singing weekend was spent with the cathedral choir in Beverley Minster in Yorkshire. The music was good, the welcome we received was excellent, the town was lovely, the beer garden across the road was fun, and best of all I renewed a friendship with someone I hadn't seen for years who was unexpectedly there as an extra singer and I'm glad to say we've managed to keep in regular touch since then, largely by text message. In truth, the renewal of that friendship after so long was one of the high spots of my year! As I get older I realise more and more that friends are exceptionally important parts of our lives, and I count myself lucky to have several very good ones. I won't name names, but you know who you are.
One thing that looked like it would come out of meeting Becca again was a potential reunion of The Marian Consort, the now defunct choir of which we were members back in the 1990's, and to that end I started to try to contact as many former members as I could to see if there was a desire to get together again, even for a one-off social/singing event. Unfortunately the response amongst those I contacted, although largely positive, fell a bit short of the numbers I'd need to get a viable choir together to sing so I've sort of put it on the back burner for now and will try again soon. Maybe it'll just be a social event rather than a singing one.
Another real high spot was me getting an iPad, and having had my home PC running virtually 24/7 for a number of years I now find it's only switched on about once a week at most as there's not all that much I can't do on the iPad. The iPad impressed me as soon as I got it, and I've found no reason to change that opinion.
I've been doing some cycling in the past year, although not as much as I'd like to have done, but in November I bought a cycle carrier for the car so I can now go a bit further afield and find new paths to try so hopefully next year I'll do better. This was always a plan that my friend Ruth and I had when we got our cycles around the same time as each other, so we've no excuse not to next year!
The reason I bought the carrier was to go on holiday for a week up to Torridon, in the north west Highlands of Scotland, with three friends, Ruth, Kirsty and Al, during which time we cycled, walked, ate, drank, laughed and generally had a good relaxing time. Plans are already afoot to go back up there somewhere next year around September.
I don't intend breaking my habit of avoiding Blogging about work, and there's no particular reason for that self-imposed rule other than I think it isn't right to do so. Suffice to say however that although I continue to love what I'm doing, where I'm doing it, and who I'm doing it for, in these financially tight times the organisation for whom I work is about to undertake a merger making a much bigger entity, and at the moment there's a definite air of uncertainty around since no one can be sure where, or indeed if, they'll be working a year from now. I suspect I'll be safe, but one never knows. In the meantime I continue to play the National Lottery Euromillions!
Although as I mentioned I still sing in the cathedral choir, in the past year or so I've felt an ongoing decrease in anything I get from services other than the music. This has gone on to the extent that I now can't quite bring myself to say out loud the spoken parts of the service, although I am in fact thinking them in my head. I continue to attend and sing at Choral Evensong in the hope that this is temporary, but I don't think I have any control over whether that does turn out to be the case. I can't explain what's happened, I don't really know myself, and I can only wait and see, and hope that in the meantime my continued presence is accepted.
So, that's a very brief outline of my 2012. Overall the year was neither particularly good nor outrageously bad, but on the whole it was fine for me with one or two stand out bits such as Torridon and Beverley. I go into 2013, living here in the cold wet west of Scotland with my cat Elmo, with the twin intentions of keeping in contact with good friends, and trying to stay positive about life.
I wish you everything you'd wish for yourself in 2013 and beyond.