So 2014 shuffles off the train at a non-descript station in the middle of nowhere, and what a strange companion it was. Pretty quiet to begin with, content to read the third-hand Metro or stare out of the window; all seemed well. But then, quite unexpectedly, it started being entertaining in a very showy way and I perhaps gave it too much attention, for it went too far and started trying to land jokes and punchlines without the skill or talent, so that by the end I was a bit sick of its company and the relaxed atmosphere of the carriage was now reduced to awkward silences and sheepish glances. Give some years an inch and they’ll take a mile of piss. Lesson learned. But at least it wasn’t an abusive alcoholic, forever trying to prick me with a sewing needle it claimed was contaminated with Hepatitis, like previous years…. 2012 or 2013 for example.
If I could take a snapshot of 2014 I probably would – since this was the year of the photograph, and the words largely dried up. I stuck my lens into places and came up with some half decent shots and a couple of real belters that I’m genuinely proud of. The past year felt like a stabiliser in many ways, a chance to regroup my thoughts and get back into some kind of society. I did a lot of travelling – small potato stuff admittedly, I never left the country – but had a lot of interesting adventures in strange cities, usually on a complete whim. Revisiting my hometown was probably a mistake; it was too rushed and too many people I barely saw. But Manchester let me cut free and dance like Ian Curtis again, London blinded me with the lights even as I tripped on the outstretched legs of those asleep in shop doorways, Newcastle seduced, Skipton flirted, Sheffield punched me playfully in the stomach and then raised me up from bent double. Even St Albans gave me a faint nod as it nonchalantly smoked an exquisite cigarello leaning against a hair salon, insecurly playing with it’s hooked moustache.
It was a bad year for books – only two late entries in Alexei Sayle’s – Stalin Ate My Homework and Simon Schama’s – Scribble, Scribble, Scribble really grabbed me as new reads. For the most part the older masters still held their own. Musically it was a good year. I discovered some bands that I should’ve never dismissed, delved further into the – please forgive me – Avant Garde Electronica, and Aphex Twin’s Syro was my album of the year. I saw a lot of good movies this year too. Under The Skin was bold, brave and incredibly creepy and I love it, but Calvary steals the crown for my top film of 2014 for the emotional impact. I saw it in the cinema and cried, I pre-ordered it on DVD and have watched it multiple times now without dry eyes. I even get emotional over the fucking soundtrack. It’s a magnificent film.
Before it started getting ideas above its station, 2014 was a holding pattern. I feel like 2015 needs to be more fiery. I want my own place again; I feel like I am starting to stagnate as I was around 2007/8. I’d like a new job and new surroundings too. York perhaps? I don’t know. I just know that this corner of the country will always be temporary for me. As much as the bucolic surroundings are peaceful, the moors march quietly behind and the sea gently laps an empty beach, it’s not enough. I grew up in a mid-sized town with London as the exotic destination half an hour down the line, and then lived in two successive cities with varying degrees of culture and atmosphere. But I do miss being a small cog in a larger machine. Even when I was depressed, with a relationship falling apart around my ears and too broke to afford a Kinder Egg, there was a pleasure in walking into my old back garden in the city centre of St Albans and hearing the steady drum of music and the shrieks and laughs of a thousand nuns behaving like somes and vicars being vicarious. It’s a strange energy that I’ve only felt in very few places – London being one of the principle ones – when human beings stop pretending to be individual and meld into one pleasure seeking organism, all attuned into one mentality like the cycles of our minds have begun to syncronise.
It’s an arbitrary break of course. The transition from 2014 to 2015 means nothing outside of our human constructs, and our need to quantify everything. The planets do not realign to provide a Cosmic Clean Slate. Those of you with overdue library books, parking tickets and bodies under the patio aren’t going to see your hideous crimes wiped away. Yet the end of 2014 did seem to be collapsing like the marathon runner with cramp at 25 miles. Changes of circumstance have simply coincided with changes of numbers. Whether it could’ve happened in November, or it happens now, or it happens in July doesn’t really matter. But I don’t want to remain in the same situation by the halfway point of the year.
In being scared of failure you guarantee it. Better to burn out than fade away. Last year the boring foundations were set, grey and hard and invisible. Now should be the fun bit.