Wednesday, 29 December 2010

It's the end of the year, as we know it!

Well, the end of the year is nigh so I suppose I should jump on the band wagon and pass on my thoughts for a year that is, was and for ever will be 2010.

I guess I should have had a fair idea of how the twelve months were going to pan out back in January after my car suffered an uncalled for assault from the winter ice in a Travel Lodge car park. Not an atrocious matter in itself, but the plastic box lid I was given when requesting the use of a spade and the collecting of salt sachets in a glass because no-one could give me access to a decent amount of the stuff required to melt the glaciers entrapping my tyres was pretty demeaning – not to say, pathetic.

The following month, my dad died. He was 58.

After that, a combination of body and mind problems (oh woe is me) that included some rather intense therapy and the threat of being sectioned (twice, the cheeky fucker!), redundancy (one for me, one for my wife) and the desperation nurtured when trying to sell a house no one is interested in have all ensured the year hasn’t been one of total glory.

But on the other hand:

I’ve seen my distant – and much missed – family much more than I normally would
I’ve made a great friend in a man who was my boss for six months of the year before the economy decided we had do a Red Sea and part
My wife has found herself in a job she loves with people she could happily spend the rest of her life with
We’re currently going through the whole selling / buying process (purposely written in that order) and hope to be in our new home in our new country (Wales – not quite Passport country but a place which demands so much respect for its own language its happy to write its road signs in both English and Welsh) by February 2011.

So it could have been better, it could have been worse. I’ve missed things out for various reasons, but this is, what I hope, a brief outlay of my 2010.

On a separate note, I’ve made some great friends over the last 300-odd days. Admittedly, some were made under the guise of wanting their knowledge, their association, their name or even just their breath if it meant forwarding my writing career (yes, I can be cynical, so sue me!) but am now eager to ensure they remain my friends from here until my dying day. I’m not going to list them all, but I intend to give a few of them some air time, given that they might get to read this and deserve to a have a ‘chest swell’ moment.

Back in February, when attending the World Horror Convention in Brighton (where I met the late, great Ingrid Pitt and was able to achieve my own moment of greatness by being the first person to buy James Herbert a drink before he was dragged away by all and sundry) I was introduced to a great man by Adam Nevill. Mathew F Riley is a fantastic creature who shared a drink, a meal and many a conversation with me and left me wondering if we shared more than just a love of facial hair. The man gave me one of the greatest compliments I have ever received when introducing me to others a few months later and I am so glad he still wishes to converse with me. I cannot praise this person too much – but that doesn’t mean he’s not a cunt! There are limits!

During those few days in Brighton, when the snow was little more than a distant memory or a bad forewarning from a cheap, seaside fortune teller, I dined with the amazingly cool and despairingly intelligent Adam Nevill, talked continuously (and abused emphatically) with Gary and Emily McMahon, both of whom have entered the constrictive confines of my ‘close friends’ circle rather easier than expected but shall never leave (ha!) and hugged outside a toilet the wonderful Sharon Ring whom I had never physically met before but new rather well in digital terms. Since then, I have met, chatted with and laughed along to the jokes of Joseph D’Lacey, shared chips with Adam Nevill’s father, drank yet more ales with F Riley, sipped latte foam with Sharon Ring and have felt a lump in my throat, put there by the wonderful Graham Joyce. This isn’t name dropping. If you don’t wander around in my circle or prefer to stay away from my literary influences, then this is will mean nothing to you. And that ain’t a criticism. Your circles and mine might be a world apart yet we share the same breath and means of telling the time.
I don’t criticise, and i don’t name-drop. I acknowledge.

That’s why I want to say thank you to Kerry Morris-Thuriot, a woman who broke my heart at 16 but apologised and became my best female friend (apart from my wife) when I was 35. I also have to thank Blaize, Eagles, Davies, Turner and Wilsh, all of whom make me chuckle like I’ve joined my nieces and nephew (hey Ben, Jessie and Jodie! Love you!). Most of all, I have to thank Steph, without whom, instead of ending on a potential high, I might not be writing this message (As long as Dai is around, a solitary dance with the razor’s blade is always possible – and could the god of house sales please ensure our sale and buy goes through exactly as we hope and we start a new life next year because we’re both rather tired of the Warrington existence). Cheers, Dearest. You’re the best.

Given I’m wanting to be a writer and I’m a definite reader, here’s a list of books for those who might be interested.

Top Reads of 2010 (in no particular order):
Apartment 16 – Adam Nevill
Pretty Little Dead Thing – Gary McMahon
Magic – William Goldman
The Millennium Trilogy – Stieg Larsson
Skin – Mo Hayder
The Silent Land – Graham Joyce
Horses’ arse – Charlie Owen
In Praise of Older Women – Stephen Vizinczey
Hush – Jeph Loeb; Jim Lee
The X-Factory
The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters

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