Tradition has it that at this time of the year the commentator or bloviator should, in place of new ideas, provide a retrospective on the events of the past twelve months. The writer or broadcaster should provide references to the content they themselves have produced throughout the year. This demonstrates in retrospect their ability to appreciate unfolding cultural trends, while at the same time turning their year’s worth of shambolic mutterings into a coherent narration that might guide future readers through the maze of rationalizing ratruns, cultural cul-de-sacs and shortcutting shibboleths that three hundred and sixty-five days of round-the-clock newses constitute.
I’ve never been much good at such summaries, as the unwieldiness of the opening paragraph above would imply. For a start, I’ve never to my knowledge actually written one: my natural instinct as a non-joiner-inner prevents me from being bowled over by the sweeping of most trends across the shag-pile of the local blogosphere; it was only an excess of Christmas spirit—the metaphysical kind—that prompted me to propagate Laura-eate’s meme a few days ago. But a far greater objection usually prevents me from reviewing the opinions I stated with such old-testament conviction from last January onwards: I hate re-reading what I once wrote.
It’s a terrible failing, being unable to edit your own work; especially when the blog’s primary disadvantage compared to mainstream media is that it has no guiding principle of good editorship from the outset (this is tempered somewhat by the fact that blogs have no subeditors to ruin my grammar, spelling or indeed content). It is in the spirit of either a healthy confrontation with my irrational fears, or a dog returning to its vomit, that I have nonetheless persevered with the following dyspeptic digestion of what I’ve had the temerity to suggest to you since January the first.
I began 2007 by eschewing the pull of the chain store: I haven’t shopped at Amazon or the ubiquitous Tesco’s since, which is a small victory for someone living within walking distance of three Tesco Metros and nothing else. At the same time I despaired about the ineptness of small businesses, watching (among other locally-owned shops) a hardware store and a bakery disappear from Witney’s town centre. I also started really panicking about the climate, which manifested itself largely in the berating of my readers and car owners through the medium of this blog, snide comments on Terry Wogan’s contact form, and the bulk-buying of sandwich spreads. When you don’t fly, don’t own the house you live in, and fear large organized events, your options for climate action are limited.
This was also the year I took too much on, with Oxfringe in March and a gradual handover of the local geek nights to me (not quite against my will) between July and November. I had to bow out of future Oxfringe discussions, although hatmandu and bluedevi are doing just fine without me: fantastically well, in fact, so keep an eye on them next March. Quiet little Lies was neglected for much of the year, although I did manage to produce a second Pocketful of Lies for this Christmas; despite discarding my old mailing list for DPA reasons I still managed a 20% or so increase in subscriptions.
Along with a nightmarish “small” web project for a friend and a rather sweet microsite for my in-laws I spent a lot of time learning new, cleaner ways of doing things on the web but didn’t have much chance to apply them. I made it to my first ever barcamp, but have since then only retained a handful of business cards and how to perform an unbelievably popular magic trick.
Although we’d hoped to buy a house (and I eagerly predicted a market crash far too early), not enough buy-to-letters died horribly and messily during the year to free up the housing stock; even if they had done then the change in death duties meant that their thick, privileged offspring would have inherited their multiple piles. We therefore failed to buy in early 2007, could not afford to buy by mid-2007, and ultimately had to move from our rental property of two and a half years into an end-of-terrace in Eynsham that seemed, on paper at least, to be an improvement in our lot. The jury is still deliberating on whether or not a rather draughty and idiosyncratic onetime worker’s cottage sprawling over three floors is an improvement on a modern, simpler single-storey flat (which was, to be honest, no less draughty before we taped up the windows), but we take solace from the fact that we had to move out owing to our genial ex-landlord having financial difficulties and selling his own house: when an independent financial advisor can’t keep up with his mortgages, the economy might well be about to have a funny turn.
I was headhunted, and I nearly appeared in court; I was married for exactly a year, and wondered what the next fifty years would be like; I mocked Amy Winehouse, Pete Crapper and John Humphrys; I rejoiced at the BBC’s acceptance of the 21st century and the intermittent magic of Russell Brand; I juiced Google for all it was worth and was briefly my own grandfather. I witnessed a windy winter, springy spring, flooded summer and misty autumn. I greeted 2007 with nausea and a pounding head; I hope to take my leave of it, as with 2006, in the company of friends. If in the mean time livestock do not take over the world, I’ll see you next year.