I was hoping to write a “year in review” post before the end of the year, or at least closer to it. But, after a nice Christmas away, we got back to London and I had three headaches in three days, and then caught my second cold of winter, which is at least one cold beyond my quota.
So, here we are. Some things from what is now old, old 2018. Remember that?!
I saw some great films in 2018, some of which came out in earlier years. I think the five I enjoyed most were, in alphabetical order:
- Cold War (2018)
- Good Time (2017)
- The Florida Project (2017)
- Leave No Trace (2018)
- You Were Never Really Here (2018)
I also saw the universally-adored Some Like it Hot (1959) and enjoyed it so little that I was really tempted to walk out, except then I’d still have the feeling I “needed” to see it. Maybe I’m allergic to Jack Lemmon? Anyway, now I have seen it and we need never speak of it again.
I read 42 books in 2018, the most since records began in 1998. Well done me. But now I look through that list, very few jump out at me as “wow, yeah, that was great!” So, I have read more entirely adequate books than in any previous year! Brilliant!
I think the most enjoyable and interesting non-fiction books I read this year were:
- Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD by Martin Aston
- How Soon is Now? by Richard King
- The New Dark Age by James Bridle
- The Second World War by Antony Beevor.
Of albums that came out in 2018 my favourite are:
- Fightmilk — Not With That Attitude
- IDLES — Joy as an Act of Resistance
- Phoebe Bridgers — Stranger in the Alps
- The Spook School — Could it Be Different?
With honourable mentions to Future Me Hates Me by The Beths and Half Man Half Biscuit’s No-One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut.
Hello, I am a middle-aged white man and I like the sound of people singing over guitars and drums. To be fair to me, I do listen to and enjoy, plenty of other stuff but individual tracks and albums don’t hit me in the same way.
I had to look back at what I wrote on this site about TV shows before I remembered watching half of these. One might ask whether there was any point, or whether I’m watching the right things.
Anyway, my favourite comedies I watched in 2018:
- People Just Do Nothing
- This Country
- Silicon Valley seasons 3 and 4 (we also watched 5 but it appears to have drifted downhill)
And my favourite dramas:
- The Americans season 5
- The Bisexual (more drama than comedy I think)
- Feud: Bette and Joan
- Fortitude seasons 1 and 2
- Halt and Catch Fire season 1
- Justified seasons 1-3
- Spiral season 6
- Treme season 3
I also realised there’s a certain strain of TV drama that I should probably stop watching. They’re quite “prestigious” and they’re usually not bad but, rather than feeling thrilled, I end up feeling like I’m simply waiting for all the plot points to be hit before the whole thing is blessedly resolved in the long-delayed final episode, often in a manner that doesn’t live up to the promise of earlier episodes. I’d probably include, in varying degrees, Bodyguard, Keeping Faith, McMafia, The Sinner and Trust.
Some of these thrillers feel like they’re taking themselves too seriously, more seriously than their plots warrant. Expectations are raised to a level which the plots can’t match. Dramas like Killing Eve and No Offence contain more wit and, somehow, released from the expectation that this is a serious work of art that will deeply affect you, the whole thing works better.
Which isn’t to say everything must have jokes. My favourite films of the year were all serious, with no irony or meta-textual wit, but they earned it; they somehow had enough weight to support their earnestness.
2018 was a pretty quiet work-wise, particularly early on. But the work I did have was for nice folk:
- Back-end and admin tools for Museum in a Box
- Front-end work for WorldSkills
- Making static, archivable versions of several sites for MoMA
- My current project, developing a site with Unfold Stories
Given how specialised so much of web development has become over the years, I’m pleased, and surprised, that I can still do a little bit of everything, rather than being a “Django dev” or a “Front-ender”.
My hobby / side-line / whatever-it-is produced its first ever paid work this year, which was very pleasing. Aside from that I did a good short course in which we worked on a couple of scenes from a play, which I loved doing, and another short course focused on developing a scene for our showreel, which was pretty good.
I’m not sure what’s next for 2019. If I was desperate to act in anything at all because it’s my dream to be an actor, then I’d probably have a plan. I enjoy doing it, and find it very challenging, and I think it’s good for me, so I’ll probably be doing something… but there’s no grand strategy.
Holidays… We spent a lovely ten days in Herefordshire in the summer, which was a great escape. We also had a few days in Munich in April, where I visited several big galleries and caught up with a couple of friends. And we had lots of nice quiet weekends in Walton-on-the-Naze.
I continued to try and make the monthly gym fees worthwhile, going swimming 2-3 times a week, and to the gym twice a week. In the gym I’m using routines from The New Rules of Lifting for Life, which I’ve been doing for about 18 months now, and I like it. I only increase weights very, very gradually, so I’m possibly very, very slightly stronger than I was this time last year. Which is good.
I bought an Apple Watch (which I’ll probably write about soon; it’s fine) and, in the last few months, played Red Dead Redemption 2 a bit which I’ve still made not much progress with, other than enjoying trotting around collecting pointless collectables.
This year I stopped posting to Twitter, other than occasional replies to friends. I no longer like it as an environment. I mean, my little bubble of friends is fine, but I’m aware it’s a bubble within a vast swamp of bots and brands and trolls. I don’t enjoy providing content to increase the engagement levels for this company. I would like to stop reading it entirely but too many friends still use it and I’d miss them. I feel similarly about Instagram.
So, I’m using Mastodon which is OK — not many people I know use it much but at least I don’t hate myself whenever I post something there. Which feels like a good baseline for a social network.
If I’m strong enough 2019 would see me never reading Twitter, deleting my little-used Facebook account, and maybe no longer using Instagram (I continue to post photos to Flickr anyway). We’ll see.
Welcome to those of you who have read this far! In my unscientific experience most “yearnotes” are written by people who have had a good, or at least interesting, year. Which makes sense, but it only increases the biased view we often get of friends through social media. Everyone eats amazing-looking food all the time! So, in the interests of balance…
I’ve been pretty glum a lot of this year. Which (you might be thinking) isn’t unusual! But it felt more relentless this year and I’m a bit fed up of it. I end up frustrated and angry about being glum.
Objectively I have many things to be thankful for — Mary! A nice home! Health! Family! Savings! Ability to earn a living! — but I can still fill a lot of time with feeling completely lost and aimless and like I’m not achieving whatever it is I’m supposed to achieve.
Freelancing leaves plenty of room for these feelings. Without any grand ambition I’ve been able to trundle along, gradually learning new things, but not really progressing beyond being “freelance web developer for hire”. Which is fine (Hello clients! I still like working for you and will continue to do a great job!). But as I see friends and peers move from job to job and company to company I can’t help but feel like I’m going nowhere. Which could be fine if I was happy with it, but I’m not, and I’m not sure why.
After so long working freelance I can no longer imagine what job I’d want, or what company I’d work for, assuming I could choose. I’d get frustrated with so many company-related things that I’m able to avoid as a solo freelancer. And I have trouble seeing what I could offer other than the ability to sit in a room on my own typing code into a computer. So I don’t think the problem is “I don’t have a proper job”.
Anyway, there’s some balance for your view of 2018. There were a lot of good things in the year and yet I still felt pretty rubbish a bunch of the time. On the plus side, at the end of 2017 I couldn’t even face writing a summary of that year, so maybe this is progress.
I hope your 2019 is going well so far and that it continues to get better.