T'eyla Minh (teylaminh) wrote,
T'eyla Minh

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Year in Review Meme for 2017

I decided to start this early and work on it over the course of November/December, so I didn't have a mad rush to get it posted, for once... also because by the time I get to the end of the year I've basically forgotten everything that happened in the preceding 12 months. Also because Paul always moans that my Year in Review posts are negative, so I tried very hard to think of Good Things that happened in this very strange year...

As it transpired, it was probably for the best I started this early, considering I spent the entire of Christmas with 'flu and had no inclination to do anything except sleep / feel sorry for myself.

Such being said - onward!

Another year of sporadic updates, alas. I feel like I've been antisocial for the majority of the year, due to still-ongoing health issues, exciting new anxiety, lack of funds, and work being emotionally draining. So, the usual. :P

1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?

Got a cartilage piercing. (I'm not sure my navel / nose count as cartilage - I got those done years ago. In this case I'm referring to my daith.)

Also, as terribly nerdy as this sounds, made soufflé as part of our Valentine’s Day meal. I consider cooking challenges achievements, particularly when they’re notoriously difficult to get right. :P

See also the answer to question 9...

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't bother to make any, which is probably for the best as they would have been scuppered by my lack of energy for the entire year.

I think I might have said this for about eleven million years in a row by now, but... hopefully next year will be the year I finally learn to drive, now that my loan is cleared and I have some spare cash for lessons. Buying a car, on the other hand...

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not exactly close, but Paul's sister-in-law's mom (Lynn) sadly passed away in February after a short battle with pneumonia in hospital. She was only 69, which is no age to go, especially considering when we last saw her at Christmas (at the family get-together) she seemed as healthy as ever, other than ongoing mobility issues. I didn't know her that well but she was a lovely lady who always thought of everyone.

5. What countries did you visit?

Bulgaria again, in June rather than September as some things were off season when we went last time. It was a lot hotter than we were anticipating (40+ on some days), but thankfully we missed the UK heatwave and I didn't have to endure any meetings in our horrible sauna-like conference rooms.

We made a vague plan next year to fly to Sofia from Birmingham (rather than Luton to Burgas) so as to make the UK end a bit easier / cheaper to manage (as it wouldn't have to include hotel/coach expenses in addition to flights), and to spend a couple of days in the capital before getting the bus to Elhovo, a nearby town. I think Wizzair have now stopped doing some configuration of Bulgaria flights (possibly the Birmingham to Sofia one) but another flight company were doing Birmingham to Burgas, so we will have to investigate for next year's trip...

Unsurprisingly, Brexit has resulted in higher flight costs even on the cheap airlines. So thanks for that, David Cameron.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

Knowledge as to whether my health condition, whatever it might be, is permanent or not. I am still in limbo and feel like my life has been on hold for the past 3.5 years. If I know it's permanent I can at least get on with my life rather than waiting for a miracle cure or some mythical future point where I will be healthy.

As long as I can get painkillers that work, and possibly something to manage the chronic bloody exhaustion, I can at least try and get back into regular exercise - which will, of course, help with the exhaustion in and of itself.

Also, see above re: hopefully affording to drive. If I can drive to places rather than having to rely on shitty public transport, I feel like several aspects of my life will improve significantly.

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

1st March - Lynn's funeral. I didn't expect it to affect me as much as it did. Part of it was seeing Andrea (Paul's sister-in-law) so upset, and part of it was just missing my mum - things like that just bring it all into perspective. This year has been a lot easier in terms of processing all my feelings about the emigration, obviously, but sometimes it just... comes back and hits me in the face all over again. It almost feels like I've suddenly had to become a Proper Grown-Up despite the fact I've (theoretically) been one for years.

6th November - seeing The Killers at Genting Arena, plus the preceding drama the same day. I posted about the sheer level of unprecedented awesomeness at the time, but what I didn't realise until later was that we were there on the first night of the UK tour, which explains why the atmosphere was so electric. :D I tried to thwart post-gig blues by obsessively liking and reblogging posts / photographs on Tumblr from people who had the energy and dedication to stand in the mosh pit (as opposed to my geriatric self in the seating area). I saw a review shortly after the event that likened it to some kind of cult/religious experience, particularly the bit when the entire audience were chanting "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier" for a solid two minutes... and TBF, when the opening of "Mr Brightside" kicked it felt like a Messianic second coming. ;)

(I kept following the Killers tag on Tumblr for a while afterwards and it sounds like gigs were across-the-board amazing, from them playing "Be Still" in tribute to the Manchester bombing victims, playing with Kaiser Chiefs in Leeds, and having a fan on stage to play keyboards in Dublin. I just... they are quite possibly the most perfect and pure thing to happen in this chaotic hellpit of a year, and I'm pretty convinced Brandon Flowers will save us all through the sheer power of his soul.)

17th November – seeing the Sunset Boulevard UK Tour at the Hippodrome. I did a two-part write-up about this after the event, so I won’t regurgitate everything here, but obviously any chance to see Sunset is something I don’t want to miss, and generally it was a really impressively-put-together show considering the short timescales (less than 18 months) since the London show. I’m hopeful that it’s indicative of exciting things in the future, and I’m going to keep an eye on its itinerary because it would be great to try and see it again if it’s somewhere I can get to… or even in Manchester, for old time’s sake. ;)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not going off work with stress after the massive shitstorm that was the entire of July. The fact that this is an achievement says all you need to know about 2017.

In the midst of all that, I also consider it an achievement that I managed to eventually gather enough spoons to apply for a new job, even though I wasn't successful in actually getting it. It took until September for me to manage that, as I saw a couple that I could have applied for if I'd been in the right headspace, but it was returning to work after two weeks off in September that eventually gave me the kick. Things have quietened down again at present, the run-up to Christmas aside, (though that in itself is never a good thing as then we just wonder what's lurking around the corner), but I will start properly looking again in January, when all the Christmas stress is out of the way.

Also, despite my answer to the next question, I managed to get around to posting the Sunset fic to both FFN and AO3, exactly a year after seeing the show in London and almost exactly 15 years since posting the original version (through sheer coincidence), and it’s received as positive a reception as I could have hoped for, given the size of the fandom - including some very nice reviews both from those that remember the original and those who have stumbled upon it anew. I still have at least three other (completed) stories that I really need to post in other fandoms, if I can stave off the paranoia long enough to do it. Maybe that should be a resolution for next year…

9. What was your biggest failure?

I think I say some variation of this every year, but this year it has felt more pertinent than ever: WRITING.

I've had plenty of ideas bubbling around in my head but from about May to October, I didn't really have the inclination or motivation to sit down and get any of them down on paper, other than a few very brief flurries. I attribute this mostly to stress, to be honest - July was awful but things have been brewing at work pretty much since before last Christmas. July just seemed to be a higher and more volatile concentration of Everything Being Shit for basically the entire month, and I hope never to have a month like that again. It was just relentlessly awful.

On the plus side, as a result of fandom being my Safe Space for some time, my brain gave me unexpected M-rated plotbunnies for the first time ever. I'm still not willing to divulge which fandom they're for, and I'm still not quite brave enough to write them down - for the most part because they've hit me fully formed and I know I can't do them any justice, so I'm a bit too scared to try in case I ruin them. Like, of all the fandoms my brain could have chosen, it picked the most breaky one with the most complex 'ship. Other than to say it's one of my die-hard OTP's, I won't reveal any more (that doesn't really narrow it down, TBF!)

I think I have 'rewritten' (maybe re-edited?) said plot bunnies a couple of times since then in my head, and I managed to get a few tamer precursors down on paper as a reminder to myself of the overall context, but I think I'm almost reaching a point now where I need to *gulp* tackle the Actual Words (particularly as the bloody things keep breeding like, well, bunnies), which is a terrifying concept. I have read FAR TOO MUCH awful fanfic porn in my life - which is not to say that there's some really bloody good stuff out there as well, but I'm not sure I could successfully emulate it, and half the difficulty is making it work to my particular style. It also doesn't help that there are FEELS involved. But at the same time, given the plot bunnies have helpfully come to me fully formed with a combination of visuals/prose... maybe it wouldn't be that difficult?

If I can ever stop giggling.

Basically, I just need somebody to extract them from my head and write them for me so I don't have to, then I would get to enjoy them rather than stress over them!

So... watch this space, I guess? At some point I might just bite the bullet! And then hide under a rock for the rest of my life or until my name is carved upon the annals of fandom history.

(SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! *insert Game of Thrones gif*)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Same non-diagnosed inexplicable condition as always. It's slightly further forward in that we have now ruled out most things, including diabetes, TB, HIV, interstitial cystitis and anything immune-system related, but also my consultant has now reached a point where he can't say what's wrong with me.

I had a follow-up appointment on 13th December and I have now effectively been discharged, because my consultant agreed there was no point in making me keep traipsing to hospital to have the same conversation every three months. He took another sample just in case (they always show the same thing, i.e. some white blood cells but nothing conclusive) and will obviously see me again if they find anything, but essentially he has now reached the limit of his knowledge. There are a couple of avenues still to explore - I'm not ruling out my gall bladder, or even chronic stress, which I think TBH is probably the only logical explanation at this point. I've asked the consultant to put a mention of stress in my discharge letter to the GP so I can hopefully get them to take it seriously, so with any luck in the new year I can approach them with a conclusive list of Things Wot It Ain't and also a list of Things Wot I Have Developed Since (seborrheic dermatitis, chronic sinusitis, exacerbated anxiety) and keep badgering them until they take me seriously. (Any referral to a gall bladder specialist would need to go via the GP now anyway, but I will ask to be referred back into the BMI to try and expediate things - also because there is something in their paperwork about them guaranteeing a diagnosis within x amount of time, which obviously hasn't happened.)

If they do conclude that it's stress, I don't really know what they can do other than signing me off work - which would only reduce one particular area of stress - or offer me something like CBT / talking therapy. I honestly think CBT is bullshit because (a) I know my thought patterns are abnormal so (b) if it was that easy to rewire my brain I'd have managed it already, but I'd be willing to give counselling another go as long as I don't get a terrible counsellor again - which obviously is like navigating a minefield. But at least a diagnosis of stress is better than a diagnosis of nothing.

In other health stuff - as mentioned above, in February I went to get my daith pierced on the recommendation of a colleague, to see if it would help my migraines. I had been intending to get it done for some time but what gave me the kick was going to get it done as a joint effort with another colleague and our line manager. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but I figured even if it didn’t work, it would look pretty. As soon as I’d had it done, the left side of my head felt inexplicably lighter (like there was less pressure). Since then I have barely had a migraine on my left side but did have a period of three weeks in a row of right-sided migraines, which seem to have redoubled their efforts to debilitate me. On that basis, I’ll be getting the other ear done to see what happens – either it will kill off the migraines entirely or it’ll return me to my previous state. Regardless, it has been a fascinating experiment!

This year has also been a massive test for my anxiety, to the point where I actually called the GP to try and get some kind of support - shortly before the general election, in fact - only to be essentially brushed off. It's really hard to try and condense however-many-years' worth of utter bullshit into a ten minute telephone conversation so it makes enough impact that they take you seriously, but the whole thing was hampered by the fact that I never got an official "depression" diagnosis back in 2005 and kind of discharged myself from counselling because I started taking the Pill and it rebalanced my brain chemistry. The GP I spoke to did at least acknowledge that sometimes counselling relationships just don't work, but she then advised me to look up CBT online and call back in a week - like I'm going to get CBT and have it be effectivein such a short space of time - and attempt to do something like yoga in the meantime. I then had to try and explain that being in constant pain / having no energy meant that exercise was impossible, and explain WHY I was in constant pain without screaming "READ MY NOTES" down the phone, and then the white noise set in again because the whole thing triggered my "OMG YOU'RE NOT LISTENING" panic button. All of this happened one morning at work so I then had to spend 15 minutes trying to calm down again - I probably should have just gone home, TBH.

It was... frustrating, to say the least.

I think the anxiety actually kicked in at some point in 2015 and may well have been triggered by the entire ongoing ill health debacle, but it's only this year that the episodes have become more frequent / more intense. I'm stuck in a vicious cycle where I have a condition that was (potentially) triggered by stress, that is continuing because the stress has not really let up, and which is in itself stressful...

I need to hibernate for a year, basically.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Tickets to see the Killers, and tickets to the unexpected tour of Sunset Boulevard that we only learned about on my birthday, in the process of Paul googling to find out when it opened as I thought it must be coming up to the 25th annviersary soon. I have a hopeful suspicion that the current UK tour is actually a precursor to a big 25th anniversary London show, which also hopefully means a cinema/DVD release or even a theatrical livestream. Fingers crossed!

Oh, I also bought a (quarter of) a new coat whilst we were on holiday in Bulgaria, as I figured they have harsh winters and would know how to construct a sensible winter coat, and it would be cheaper than getting one in the UK. My mum and David (and Paul) all contributed towards it as my birthday present. It's turquoise leather with fur lining and can also be worn the reverse way around. Two coats for the price of one!

Circumstances meant that I had to buy more interview-appropriate attire, which came about in the form of a pinstripe suit jacket from the charity shop (for £3.00) and a black dress from M&S (for £20, plus £25 on a voucher). On the plus side, the dress should last me literally forever and at least I can wear it to funerals and/or weddings and/or other formal occasions as necessary. (Hopefully at some point I will lose enough weight to fit back into either of my actual Smart Interview Outfits...)

I've bought various exciting baking / crafty things this year, including a rotary guillotine with different-shaped edges (so. much. fun!), a fancy hole punch / embossing tool thing, a calligraphy set, number-shaped silicone cake/chocolate moulds, some professional-grade alphabet icing stamps, and a set of 20 piping nozzles... Lidl and Aldi are great for craft stuff in their special buys! We now have a local Hobbycraft in Merry Hill. This can only be a kiss of death for my bank balance.

Also, I finally bought a new PC, and started playing Sims 3 again. I am yet to summon the courage to make fandom sims…

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My previous line manager, Jo, before everything kicked off in July and she was moved to a different team. She's been very supportive over the past few years about my health stuff, the house move (including helping with the actual move!), and just letting me offload at her in supervision. She also helped to "mediate" between me and my colleague, Yvette, when we were having issues and were constantly at each other's throats, and acknowledged her own part in some of the mess (namely that because I sat next to her I found myself trying to defend her decisions to Yvette, particularly on her non-working day, but she was also guilty of offloading at me at times and involving me too much in stuff - e.g. reading out / showing me emails I probably shouldn't have been privy to - so going forward we both agreed it would stop.)

She is probably the best manager I've had - not perfect, by any stretch, but given how she was thrown into the team and had to hit the ground running, and how much of a nightmare we must be to manage... yeah. She did good. I thanked her in a Christmas card, but I'm not sure if it managed to reach her before Christmas in our internal post...

Also, all those young people who got riled up and went out to vote in the General Election. We may not have Prime Minister Corbyn and his socialist utopia yet, but the hung Parliament result felt like a step in the right direction. It showed the Tories that we won't stand for their terrible bigoted bullshit any more; it proved Ukip to be the useless appendage that they really are. Yes, things are awful right now, with May and Trump and Brexit and nuclear war looming on the horizon (oh god that doesn't even sound ironic) - but young people are the future, and they will save the world. (Which makes a change from us Millennials allegedly killing everything.) It's something to keep in mind during these dark, bleak times.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

I may just repeat my entire answer from last year. The Tories, Donald Trump and his entire government, etc., etc...

My bank, for the whole overdraft charges fuckwittery in November. Dickheads. (I mean... part of me is grateful because the preceding stress probably made the Killers gig that night even more awesome, but it was an unnecessary pile of angst that I could have done without...)

Also, closer to home, and as already documented, the way Jo was treated in the run up to her moving jobs was just... absolutely appalling. I'd even go so far as to say she was treated badly from the point she got moved to CP - not by us, but by her team leader colleagues and managers. We have all been bullied by management this year but Jo got most of the brunt of it, to the point where she was off sick on at least three separate occasions in the space of as many months. Utterly unacceptable, but sadly not uncommon around these parts.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Things have been slightly better this year in terms of having spare money, and my increment lump sum went towards the new PC, as after nine years the old one was on its last legs – still mostly functional but deathly slow.

My loan got finished two months earlier than expected at the start of October, so I should be a bit better off now, and Paul's will be done in October 2017, when we will be a LOT better off. In that sense, things are finally starting to look up.

... now watch as some massively expensive crisis happens next year.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The Killers and Sunset Boulevard in November, more so the latter because it was such a surprising turn of events. (I may have made supersonic, “only dogs can hear you now” noises at the point of booking the tickets.)

Also, Game of Thrones as season 7 wound down, because I'm a massive geek.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?

I'll have to go with "Nineteen" by Tegan & Sara. I got their "Get Along" album for Christmas 2016, which is a live album of songs from other albums. I already knew some of them from "Sainthood" but the tracks I didn't know swiftly became some of my favourites, as they reminded me inexplicably of Sunset and Norma/Joe. (Being trapped in fandom has its advantages!) "Nineteen" will eventually be turned into a soulmate AU of some description because the concept would not leave me alone, but the entire album has become to Norma/Joe what Evanescence's "Fallen" was to Spuffy all those years ago...

I should probably do an LJ entry about that soulmate AU, now I come to mention it. I’ve done a kind of rough timeline but it would probably help to get some firmer ideas down for it until I can find time to put it in Actual Words.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

(a) happier or sadder?
Sadder, despite my best endeavours to solve it.
(b) thinner or fatter? I think I've finally stopped gaining weight, but I haven't lost any either. But since Paul has stopped smoking and started eating instead, we could probably both benefit from a month or two of Hairy Dieter recipes…
(c) richer or poorer? Maybe slightly richer? A little bit? I don't want to jinx it...

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Been sociable, in any capacity. I have been exhausted and bereft of spoons for much of the year.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Given so much of a shit at work, particularly in regards to helping out with projects / service improvements when the contribution wasn't appreciated. I am basically done with the whole thing now, because this is the story of my working life: I put in effort beyond my job remit and it's taken for granted or outright ignored. Part of my work ethic is that I can't just do the bare minimum and coast through my career, but honestly, I'm starting to see the appeal more and more.

This place breaks people in every conceivable way. It needs to stop.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I made a concerted effort this year to avoid Birmingham city centre (and thus the Frankfurt Market) except for where it was unavoidable, i.e. concert commitments. As a result of which, our Christmas shopping was achieved at the Festive Gift Fair, Worcester Victorian Market, Blackheath shops and Amazon. I had a vague plan to finish up at Merry Hill, because it's nearer and has all the same shops as Birmingham, but it turned out we didn't need to bother.

The Festive Gift Fair came about because usually my choir is asked to provide entertainment in the form of carol-singing (usually I can't make it because it's on a Friday). This year it happened to be the same weekend as both the Motorcyle Exhibition and Comic-Con, so they had a smaller hall than usual and thus no room for the choir, so in recompense they provided a load of free entry tickets. We managed to put quite a dent in the shopping and hoped to do the same at the Worcester market a few weeks later.

It transpired, alas, that the Worcester market had mostly the same stalls as the Festive Gift Fair - which makes sense, now that I think about it, as there are probably a finite number of local craftspeople and an equally finite number of Christmas markets at which to sell their wares. I hadn't been to the Worcester market in about 12 years (since before I met Paul) and remembered it being much nicer last time, so that was a bit disappointing. If we go again next year we'll probably just forego on the Festive Gift Fair (particularly as there's no guarantee of a free ticket and it would cost £15 to get in otherwise).

Usually we do the family get-together on the 23rd, but as Darren and Andrew were down in Northampton to see Jade, Chris and Izzy, we did the family thing on the afternoon of Christmas Eve before heading out for a meal with friends. This probably would have been better if I hadn't come down with 'flu by that point, because I felt absolutely bloody awful and at the point where we left the restaurant (about 9.30pm), the ten-minute walk to find a taxi about killed me.

I'm blaming the 'flu on work. It's been so busy lately that I didn't have the time to book in a 'flu jab with the GP - and BCC didn't purchase any for employees this year in their usual bid to avoid staff sickness - and about two days before I finished I was in Conference with a Social Worker who had a cold, and opted to sit next to me rather than next to the baby with bronchitis. Which is... fair enough, I guess, but it was inevitable I would catch something. The cold kicked in on Friday afternoon and I attempted to fend it off with whiskey / brandy and raspberry&echinacea tea, to no avail. Paul then caught it off me on Boxing Day so we've both spent Christmas feeling like absolute death - and in my case everything was topped off with a three-day migraine. I've basically spent five days sleeping, not eating properly and feeling sorry for myself.

Also, thank god I'd booked time off this year because I definitely would not have been well enough to go in. This is a pattern I used to have when I worked in Legal, where if I had to work over Christmas because of staffing I would inevitably be off sick anyway because my immune system likes to shut down when it gets to mid-December. This year has been so stressful I probably should have anticipated being ill over Christmas, but as I'd just gotten over a cold in November I thought I'd be safe.

We actually went to see my grandmother on the 23rd instead (when I was already feeling rotten) which was more painless than we expected. Thankfully, the Bulgaria thing seems to have stuck in her head, and we're just having to fend off the kind of questions I anticipated ("Do you miss her?" "Aren't they coming back?" "What did they want to move there for?"). She hasn't asked for their address but has asked us to write on her behalf - which I've refused on the basis that their postal system is very hit and miss so it probably wouldn't get there anyway - and I've tried to explain the concept of Skype but I'm not sure she understands. So I think in her mind I basically NEVER EVER SEE THEM AND WILL NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN OMG. Oh, and she also wants us to move to a house opposite her, despite me telling her repeatedly that (a) we are not moving again and (b) it would take me too long to get to work (yes, even on the train) and (c) the house/kitchen would be too small. (Also (d) fuck new builds that's why.) She won't accept that and keeps asking, and I'm honestly not sure if she's being deliberately ignorant or just isn't listening - possibly a little of both...

21. How did / will you spend New Year's Eve?

Well, we got invited to a friend's but aren't going because of drama. (This is the friend I haven't spoken to since my birthday last year; we invited her out on Christmas Eve, with a full disclosure to everyone that we had because others also aren't talking to her, and then it transpired another friend also isn't talking to her and if we'd known that we wouldn't have bothered.) Also because I've been ill for the past five days I have loads to catch up on. So it'll just be Paul and I with a bottle of champagne and probably a film. It's his birthday tomorrow and we possibly have people coming over but I don't know how many / what time yet. Regardless, I'll be making a turkey and leek pie for some unknown configuration of people. :P

22. Did you fall in love in 2017?

23. How many one-night stands?

Both of these questions are (continually) redundant.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?

Game of Thrones for definite, mainly because it gave me a shiny new brain-eating 'ship in the form of Jaime/Brienne. <3 Which made all the various dramatic Jaime-centric moments... somewhat stressful, to say the least! (I also lowkey 'ship Tyrion/Sansa. Because obviously.)

We also rediscovered the sheer brilliance of Inside No. 9 thanks to the previous two series being available through Sky On Demand after we'd watched series 3. Latterly, the three-part reboot of League of Gentlemen was also great (and very dark - particularly all the Pauline stuff and the "local shop" Brexit allegory), though the build-up and execution of the Papa Lazarou punchline was painful, to say the least.

I also loved the Sherlock finale, though I know it had a mixed reception amongst fans.

Oh, and we also finally got around to season 1 of Penny Dreadful, which I thoroughly enjoyed despite my 'ship lasting all of three episodes (Victor/Proteus, if anyone's curious - my propensity for doomed romances has finally peaked).

And there was the Twin Peaks reboot, which was completely incomprehensible but also brilliant in a way only David Lynch can achieve. The build-up to the Sunset reference was ridiculously drawn-out, but also effectively answered my question as to whether he'd named his own character (Gordon Cole) after the one in the film. Which: yes.

We also watched the Bake Off reboot (for want of a better word) following its move to Channel 4, and I was personally not disappointed. Yes, it’s not the same without Mel and Sue and Mary, and Paul Hollywood is the world’s biggest sell out, but essentially it’s the same tried and tested formula of cake-related drama. Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig got into their stride within a few episodes, though at first it was like Noel was basically trying to be Sue Perkins and reining in his weirdness presumably so as not to alienate viewers. As the show progressed some of his trademark quirkiness started to come out, and he and Sandi actually had pretty good chemistry as a double-act. I like to think that any sceptics have been won over now, particularly when it reached the semi-final and Noel started crying (as indeed did Sandi when she was announcing the eventual winner – bless!) – it was a strange but very sweet moment, and hopefully gave people a glimpse of the human person underneath all the mad hair and psychedelic shirts. It must be a really odd environment to work in and I can’t imagine what it must feel like being in the middle of all those high emotions in that tent!

Next year we need to get at least one new TV (for our bedroom and for the spare room so I can hook up the PS3) so we can get back onto the Frasier rewatch, finish it, and start on Scrubs or Will and Grace. So. Many. Boxsets.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

The PSRM has gone down further in my estimation than even I anticipated, in light of everything that happened over the summer.

Also, this Jacob Rees-Mogg character can bugger off back to the Victorian era where he bloody well belongs.

26. What was the best book you read?

Spectacles, Sue Perkins's autobiography, which I devoured on the flight home from Bulgaria. It sends you an emotional rollercoaster of tears and hysterics and is utterly brilliant. Highly recommended.

I also finished the entire of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy whilst in Bulgaria, as it was mostly too hot to do anything else, and haven't read anything else this year, again. Actually, I tell a lie, I managed to download We Need to Talk About Kevin onto my Kindle for 99p and am slowly working through that as well.

Now I've sorted out the bookcase I will actually endeavour to get back onto reading through it: the next one is Schindler's Ark...

7. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Tegan & Sara! I had technically already discovered them but "Get Along" has made me want to find the rest of their stuff now. P!nk's new album ("Beautiful Trauma") is brilliant, and obviously the Killers also released "Wonderful Wonderful". Several gorgeous tracks on both albums.

28. What did you want and get?

New music as per the above.

A new PC.

New bookcases / DVD storage for the front room.

Tickets to see the Killers.

(I'm not including the tickets to Sunset because I didn't know I wanted them until ten seconds before I got them!)

29. What did you want and not get?

For work not to be soul-destroyingly awful all the damn time. Ah well, can't win them all.

Also, for the universe to do bad things to bad people for a change, instead of constantly shitting on all the good people.

30. What was your favourite film of the year?

Another year of not managing to get to the cinema - I think we actually managed an entire year this time, though I really want to see The Shape of Water. (A conversation about it with Paul ended up with me explaining the concept of the “monster-fucking” Tumblr contingent, which was... not a discussion I ever expected to have.)

Whilst on holiday in Bulgaria we managed to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Secret Life of Pets and Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For, which had been on our list for a while. We have also exhausted practically all the bad / mediocre / surprisingly okay horror movies on Sky Cinema, whilst waiting impatiently for the remake of Blair Witch to roll around... I was violently opposed to the concept because the original has always been one of my favourite horrors (being one of the first and best examples of the found-footage genre), but apparently it was quite good.

I finally got around to seeing the live action Beauty and the Beast remake over Christmas, after a scuppered attempt in March. I think it probably would have benefitted from a cinema but I still enjoyed it.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 36. We went out to Frankie & Benny's in the morning because I really fancied a big dirty American style breakfast - I had a cinnamon pancake with bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce and it was amazing.

We cooked a brisket of beef in the slow cooker for dinner, and ended the evening watching the 25th anniversary concert of Les Mis and unexpectedly booking tickets for Sunset.

Also that was the day the sun went all orange and weird because of Sahara dust, and it felt like the End of Days.

The day before, Denise had come over to continue our long overdue X-Files rewatch but I had somehow managed to misplace my season 3 video boxset which we were halfway through. Spent about 30 minutes trying to find it and then gave up and watched a film instead. Hopefully it’ll turn up because there’s a gap for it on the shelf but it’s not where I thought I’d left it (i.e. in the video cupboard in the spare room). Paul went out to finish my birthday present shopping that day and managed to get the DVD boxset instead, but it’s very perturbing!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

My job not being a quagmire of toxic quicksand.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

Much the same as every other year!

34. What kept you sane?

Fandom, again. Even when I wasn't actively participating through writing anything, filling my brain with lovely (smutty) distractions has been a big help.

Also I started back at choir again, which is pretty good stress relief for the most part, when the politics aren’t being politic-y. I reached an agreement with the membership secretary that I would have to manage concert commitments on an ad hoc basis depending on my energy levels, which means that pre-Christmas I decided not to do the Spectacular Classics concert(s) but was able to do the Mozart Requiem, traditional Messiah and our Christmas concert (with guest speaker, Tony Robinson!).

35. Which celebrity / public figure did you fancy the most?

I always forget when I come to this question but this has been the answer now for a couple of years: Reece Shearsmith! I have no idea why (no, that’s a lie, I do know why but it’s really embarrassing so please don’t ask). Also kind of maybe Kit Harington (Jon Snow)? It's the eyes, I think.

Also, predictably, Brandon Flowers. Particularly in that gold suit from the encore. GUH.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

I vaguely answered this already in a previous question - the General Election and the upsurge of young voters. Let's hope if there is a second EU referendum they manage to swing it.

37. Who did you miss?

My mum again. Mother's Day / her birthday were easier this time around, though.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

I don't think I've met anyone new this year... other than new Chairs at work, one of whom I already knew outside of work and the other two of whom are admittedly lovely, but honestly I think that's in the job description. :P

39. Did you meet anyone you only knew online?

Nope. Eventually I will go to NI to meet cloudsinvenice...

I had planned to meet up with Jackie between Christmas / New Year but she's had the same 'flu-y thing as me so we decided to postpone it until January. We're also hopefully going to do the Derby Gaol sleepover and maybe one of the other ghost walks in March.

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017:

It's not worth it. Whatever it is... it's not worth it.

41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

For a change, have three!

I wish I could go back to playing Barbies in my room
They never say that you've gotta grow up quite this soon
How fast things change, and now I'm here
And all I want to do
Is go back to playing Barbies in my room

(“Barbies”, P!nk, from Beautiful Trauma)

Don't give up on me, 'cause I'm just in a rut
I'm climbing, but the walls keep stacking up

("Rut", The Killers, from Wonderful Wonderful)

If you call my name
I will run whether or not it's tonight
In the life to come

("Life to Come", The Killers, from Wonderful Wonderful)

I only got both of these albums towards the end of the year, but yeah. Accurate.

If you managed to get through all of that, I commend you!!

I have no idea what 2018 will hold for everyone, either individually or on an international scale, but let's hope 2017 was the final scrapings from the bottom of the barrel and now we can finally open a fresh one. Which is a rather clumsy metaphor of "it can't get any worse, right?" Here's hoping...
Tags: christmas, health, memes, ponderings
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