So it has come to that time of the year when we all try to simultaneously look forward and backwards - something that normally only owls and those reptiles with swivelly eyes can do.
I won't say it's been a good or bad year because barring complete disasters, all years have their highs and lows. Through nothing more than a fluke of nature I am fortunate enough to be living in a peaceful part of the world where life is good and disaster rarely, if ever, strikes. We are lucky enough to have little to worry about except what we can brew up in our strangely doom-laden imaginations. The solipsism of many affluent, healthy and comfortable Westerners continues to bemuse me. Take a look at the rest of the world sometime and stop feeling so bloody sorry for yourself.
I've had one experience in 2011 I hope I never to have to repeat. The slow, painful decline and death through illness of a close friend provoked emotions in me I had never experienced before. I have never wept at someone's bedside. I think I had come to terms with the inevitability of his death but I simply could not cope with watching someone I had known for so long in such desperate and hopeless circumstances. Knowing I could do nothing to help him was unbearable. He was the model of courage in adversity. I was hopeless.
On a lighter (and suddenly rather tactless) note, men like compiling 'top 20' lists and I am no exception. Here is my entirely arbitrary selection of top things from 2011 which I will think up as I go along....
A dead heat between nursemyra at The Gimcrack Hospital, Terra Shield at Raconteur-esque Scribblings and Saby at Booby Rants!. I fear we may have almost lost Saby to the Twittersphere (which I rarely visit) but her intermittent posts combining simmering rage and sparkling wit are always a pleasure to see.
An honourable mention goes to Gia at Mayor Gia who has the rare skill of being able to write brilliantly funny dialogue and combine it with great illustrations. Let's hope the zombie sluts don't get to her too soon.
Best TV Show
The Killing. With a little practice I may soon be able to swear fluently in Danish. Interesting to discover that the Danish for "f*cked up" is "furkerdairurrppp". Who'd have thought it.
Galette des Rois. I made this for my family at Christmas. It's French and much more complicated than the recipe suggests. I was relieved to see it turned out looking mostly like the illustration and tasted pretty damned good as well. Follow the suggestion and add pear segments pre-fried in butter. Kudos to me in the kitchen.
My old Audi A4 which clocked up 250,000 miles (402,000 Km) this year and shows no sign of failing me. I will replace you in the Spring....but I say that every year.
Best Pop Video
Last Friday Night by Katy Perry. It's actually probably the only pop video I've watched this year. I really like the energy, vibrancy, colour and humour in this video. You can't help but smile all the way through it. Katy Perry is hot as well - with and without glasses.
Best Consumer Product
The Canon EOS 60D digital SLR - mainly because I've just bought one. Expect blogposts in 2012 to have significantly more picture content.
Best Internet Retailer
I won't tell you their name but they sent me two Canon EOS 60D cameras and have billed me for only one. I 'phoned them up and told them of their mistake but they have so far failed to collect the second one. Where do I stand on this? Does it become mine after a certain amount of time?
The UK being buried in snow for a significant part of December 2010 and January 2011. Who can be so miserable as to not like snow? Where is your inner child?
A week in Scotland. More correctly, it was my only real holiday this year. Must improve on this in 2012.
It might still possibly be the people I went to school with even though we are now scattered acrosss the globe. We met up over Christmas and regressed to being teenagers again (albeit teenagers who could spend freely and rather too over-indulgently at the bar). No oneupmanship. No envy. No baggage. We were just pleased to see each other healthy and happy.
The Grange Arms, Hornby, North Yorkshire. Where I invariably meet my best friends when our paths occasionally collide. Good beer is important, good company is essential.
Best You Tube Video
This guy. Ha ha ha ha ha. Ho ho ho ho ho. La la la la la. Love the wig, the waves, the gestures...makes me want to live in seventies Soviet Russia.
The ongoing evisceration of the UK tabloid press and their vulgar, voyeuristic, prurient, intrusive, judgemental, insensitive, manipulative, degrading and thankfully (finally proven), illegal reporting methods.
That's fourteen tops by my count - more than enough. Must go out and make something of the day. It's the last one we'll get in 2011 - if you hadn't noticed. Suggestions on other 'tops' are welcome if you'd like me to add to the list. Or how about some of your own?
I wish you and all your loved ones a happy, abundant and trouble-free 2012.