There we go, like narcissistic thieves returning to the scene of the crime we find ourselves back at another January. The chance to give everything a lovely little wipe clean and an opportunity to take stock of our life choices, or the chance to mock anyone who would consider changing anything they’ve ever done just because of the date. Either is good. It’s been a funny old year. I often wonder which it’ll be that the entire world gets destroyed because of bad decisions but here we are in another new one, blinking slowly through our hangovers and willing our genitals to return to normal size after knocking back half an E with a glass of bubbly because “fuck it”. Many things happened in 2015, politics and stuff, but what you are really wondering is what I made of the weird stuff that happened to me. Well, I’m going to tell you, breaking it down month by bloody emboldened month.
January: The year began much like others before it, by following on from the year that had been. I spent most of the month accidentally writing 2014 on documents and having to correct myself and dreaming of the day I would have to make a 5 look like a 6 rather than making a 4 look like a 5. I was also swiping right with a fiendish speed I first established playing Track And Field as a kid. It was an experimental time for me as a man although one which, as good fortune would have it, stopped me from being on the Channel 4 show, First Dates. I will forever be in debt to the replacement bus service I refused to get all the way to London on the promise of a background TV date and a dinner (which I have in my head would have definitely been a battered sausage and chips). Elsewhere, my glasses got trodden on in a sex kerfuffle and were never the same again.
February: As with every year before it, February was celebrated nationwide as being my birthday month. While the House of Lords still veto the suggestion we all get the whole month off and call it a Pauliday I did get a lovely four Saturdays and Sundays off in a month as well as a mixed grill to celebrate the day itself. In a move that shocked many (me), a number of my friends forgot the date and spent weeks afterwards trying to make amends. I pigheadedly refused to lower myself to their level and instead floated around my flat in a pair of mop slippers. I went to my first ever Drive-in movie where I saw ab-flashing gay romp Top Gun for the first time. I went to a very nice hotel in London and upset the establishment by drinking a lot of vodka martinis while dressed like I was in Mad Men.
March: Two incredible things happened in March 2015. The first was that The Strokes announced they would be playing Hyde Park in the summer. I booked tickets. The second was that Secret Cinema announced they would be showing The Empire Strikes Back in the summer. I booked tickets. The third was that I started talking to an incredible woman via my blog who utterly compelled me. The only problem was that she was in Manchester and I was in Essex. With the near-Vulcan levels of logic I possess I got on the National Express website and booked tickets. I was also asked to perform at Old Trunk’s Tales & Ales events. My best bit from the show was getting to say cunnilingus onstage, I’m like Shakespeare.
I also forgive my friends for forgetting my birthday when they surprised me five weeks late with a meal out. I almost cried hard salty man tears.
April: I spent most of April darting back and forth to Manchester and falling in love like an idiotic little schoolboy. I also got to visit Salford Lads Club and having been there and done that, got the t-shirt to prove it. Everything I had ever said in the throes of my relationship-hating mentality were served up to me on toast points. I was literally (not literally) eating my words (metaphor). After spending three days together Charlotte and I decided the best thing we could do about the two-hundred miles between us was reduce it to about fifteen feet at all times and she started packing up her life to come and be with me. As I am constantly reminded, the north remembers, I know nothing, winter is coming… except it wasn’t. Spring was. And I was full of the joys of it. I was reasonably youngish, I had a foxy lady and somehow I managed to get an interview for a job I had lovingly gazed across the room after for about six months.
May: In May everything went proper mental. I had to clear enough space in the wardrobe for another person to get their stuff in there and I found out I got the job I had been pining for. I could practically smell the impressive job title on subtle off-white business cards, It would even have its own watermark. I bought a number of suits because I was still watching too much Mad Men and tried to negotiate a start date. After a heavy 24 hours in which I drove back and forth to Manchester with a carload of stuff we got Charlotte moved in and began our domestic bliss of cold cups of tea, love and dolly grips fucking everywhere.
June: In a matter of days I got to see two of the most important things in my shared love of life with my hetero-life partner Antony. We watched The Strokes and then we watched Star Wars and it was a-maz-ing. I finally felt like I was at a point in my life where I could be the adult version of child me, allowing these incredible opportunities I had always hoped for to play out. More than anything I always wondered when I would get to a point where I was happy with my lot. I seemed to have found it. Charlotte and I also welcomed our ridiculous bundle of joy Rigamortis into our lives. The rescued halfling of a cat with bowed back legs became our fur baby and we started creeping other people out with the way we talked about her as if we had birthed her ourselves. I started my new job and was immediately overwhelmed.
July: For Charlotte’s birthday we went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and geeked out for a number of hours. I discovered that regardless of what I may have thought I was never in Gryffindor House and have been flying the Ravenclaw flag ever since. We visited her family for a few days and traveled to Hay-on-Wire for all the bookshop feels.
August: I was reminded of just how cool all of my friends were as they simultaneously jumped ship for the Edinburgh festival. I submitted a new novel about a version of me with a different name to agents and publishers across the land and was told I had made the main character purposefully unlikable. It was a low point. I spent weeks trying to make myself purposefully likable again. Reading Festival allowed Antony and I another chance to geek off as we spent four hours circling the M25 before finding our turn off, drinking too much, thinking that some of the children at the festival should really locate their mums and dads because they’d had far too many disco biscuits for their faces to deal with unattended and then watched The Libertines locked arm-in-arm.
September: I started trying to fit six months worth of training ahead of my annual charity trek into just one month as it dawned on me I was going to actually be flying to the Grand Canyon. I spent my weekend walking across the very flat and un-Canyon-y Essex countryside, taking refuge in the sitting rooms of anyone who would have me and making Vines that I assumed were hilarious. My fourth book, The Stamp Brotherhood, was released upon the masses (my parents and possibly some people who got the free e-book) and once again I waited for Lady Fame to come knocking at my door. The book did incredibly well, getting into the Kindle Top 20 for its category and earning me even more of a smug demeanor. I got three new tattoos, finally reaching a point where I realised I don’t have to explain the relevance of them to everyone each time I get one done and it can simply be because I like something. It’s not like it is permanent anyway.
October: I flew to Las Vegas and was jettisoned out into the desert to trek the Grand Canyon. I met some lovely and incredible people who I will remain in touch with, as I did after the Sahara and Peru treks. I raised over a thousand pounds for the Guide Dogs charity and I added another country to my roster of blagging rights when I looked off wistfully and recalled the time I hurt my knee in a cave. I got drunk in a casino, was denied entry to a club, lost my underwear on a building site and was shown to an executive business suite in the course of one night out. I downplayed this element compared to all the great charity work.
Charlotte and I visited Bath, enjoying a relaxing day in the thermae spa, a trip around the Roman baths and a lot of good food. We both got tattooed on Halloween.
November: I decided I was going to write two novels instead of one in the National Novel Writing Month event held each year in November. I completed the first one, at sixty-one thousand words, in just twelve days, promptly had a breakdown and was offered counseling. The second book is still in development. I also took too many truffles and got weird on a houseboat on the canals of Amsterdam.
December: Then we got here. Lovely little month December is. The warmest since records began. I ran about everywhere in a t-shirt, sweating and trying to work out if I had bought enough stuff for everyone. We commandeered a Christmas tree and set it up with the fancy baubles and bangles we had collected on our recent travels. I got to perform with some of my friends in a weird quiz show held at The Alex where I was the sexy scorecard boy. It developed my desire to bring back crop tops for men. Star Wars brought absolute joy to my face. I watched it twice and wept quietly each time. I went to so many Christmas parties that I forgot what working without a hangover felt like. Then it was Christmas and we were packing up and off to the midlands again. It was the first Christmas I had spent away from home and Charlotte’s family made me feel very welcome.
I got to see in the new year with my shoe brother before heading round to see other friends and get weird into the wee hours.
Every year has its ups and downs, it has triumphs and it has disappointments. I’m trying my best to navigate through it all, to celebrate the things I have done and recognise the fact that I’m in a very good place and space. As a very wise man recently told me, you need to find success in the life you are living and enjoy those victories. Here’s to 2016. Cheers.