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So that was 2006?

December 25th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 1 Comment · Life

There is still a week to go before the end, but I am going to assume nothing much will happen in that time – or should that be hope that nothing will happen (bearing in mind the terrorist fears in today’s Observer)?

It has been a mixed year really.


As far as music is concerned, I have been quite disappointed. Last year and the year before I found a lot of new music to excite me, but this year there has been a relative shortage of new exciting acts, or new exciting material from established acts. Its very much a cliche now, but I do like the Arctic Monkeys, and a few other bands who caught my attention this year are the Gossip, the Holloways, Wolfmother and Black Angels.

I probably bought fewer new albums this year than I have for a long time, but the ones which stood out for me where The Captain & The Kid by Elton John, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Actually that last one had a lot of filler. If they had taken the best tracks from the double CD it would have made a normal album to rival Blood Sugar Sex Magik. I also have to admit that Robbie Williams’ Rudebox has been growing on me, and that the tracks I have heard from the new Muse album convince me that if I get given it for Christmas I will be very happy indeed.

Some of the new music I discovered (Black Angels and the Gossip) was via Internet downloads – legal of course – but looking through the eMusic archives I found all sorts of goodies which were new to me even if they are actually not very new – like Badger, Peaches, Eagles of Death Metal, Chicks on Speed, Easy Star All-Stars, and Gotan Project. It really was a case of grabbing hold of the long tail.

I don’t think I have been to any concerts this year, apart from the Croydon World Party. Must make an effort to get out more next year.


This year I read very few new books, and most of them were new books by writers I always read, like Robert Rankin and Christopher Brookmyre (excellent new books from both of them). I did finally finish Will Self’s Book of Dave which I was really into by the end of it.

The only novel I read by an author new to me was The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox. It won an award for best first novel, but given the circumstances of its creation I think it may be an only novel. The author was knocking the idea around for 30 years and only found the impetus to complete it after a cancer attack.

Mostly I was re-reading some old favourites and catching up on older books I should have read ages ago (like Flann O’Brienn’s Hard Life) and a lot of what I read was non-fiction. I had a bit of a binge on off-kilter statistical/social theory books like Blink, The Tipping Point, The Wisdom of Crowds and Freakonomics, any of which I would recommend, and Faster, which I wouldn’t.


I don’t think I visited a cinema all year, but with the ever-shortening interval between theatrical release and DVD release I saw quite a few of the year’s films at home.

The ones I enjoyed most were V for Vendetta and Hostel. The most ridiculous film of the year was the obvious one – The Da Vinci Code. Even though I was expecting it, the line about “Quick! We must get to a library!” cracked me up. Snakes on a Plane seemed to disappear without a trace ater all the hype, but I have not seen it yet so I can’t really say if that was justified or not.


After being underwhelmed or left behind by music, cinema, and literature, I was more excited than usual about the television this year. I still tended to leave it on a music or comedy re-run channel as background except for specific programmes but there were rather more of them for me this year.

There was the continuing story of Lost first of all. I still don’t understand it but it is compelling as it always threatens to all become clear and then just gets weirder. The revitalised Doctor Who survived the introduction of a new actor as the Doctor and just got better and better, and the Torchwood spin-off is also extremely watchable.

Other highlights for me were the Planet Earth and Coast documentaries, Tim Marlow’s arts show on Five and the bizarre but gripping Life on Mars.


By which I really mean football, I find it hard to get into other sports. The biggest event, biggest disappointment and smallest surprise had to be the World Cup in Germany. But despite England’s extremely poor performance it was a brilliant tournament with a sad and dramatic ending as Zidane left the pitch a few minutes before the end.

Other highlights were Arsenal’s progress in the Champions League, West Ham’s Cup run and that amazing FA Cup final. Even though we were robbed it was one of the best ever cup final matches. Unfortunately this season’s performances mean that West Ham is also a low point of the year – but with new owners it might all turn out OK in the end.


It was sad to see the backs of Tony Banks, Linda Smith, Syd Barrett, Vince Welnick, Robert Altman and Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman. The biggest shock death of the year had to be Steve Irwin, providing Australia with its own ‘Lady Di moment’. The demise of Slobodan Milosevic and Pinochet is scant compensation for all that lot.


For me there was only one contender for best experience of the year, and that is the Sultan’s Elephant. I did not follow it around the streets of London for days and only saw it once in Trafalgar Square, but just that one sighting was enough to leave me totally awestruck. It was just one of those things you don’t know you need to see until you have seen it. I’m sure the US mid-terms will have more impact in the greater scheme of things, but there will always be more elections – ow many times am I going to see a 40-foot mechanical time-travelling elephant?

More locally the fall of Crawley Council to Tory control on the drawing of lots was the most momentous event, although when they lost their majority as a result of a defection to the Lib Dems it was almost as big a deal.

Two events which everyone agrees were highlights of the year, I have not yet experienced in the flesh despite seeing a lot about them in magazines, newspapers and TV programmes – the Holbein and Velazquez exhibitions in London. If I don’t get round to seeing them before they end in January I will be kicking myself.


A few nerdy things stand out for me – moving from Blogger to WordPress and getting my own domain, for example, or finally discovering podcasts for myself.

Employment has been full of ups and downs. Jayne’s employers closed down so she is now temping while looking for a new job. I got a great job offer, but red tape has postponed the start date so I am currently in a sort of limbo while I wait to transfer.

On the family front, Frankie left home which seems to have done him a lot of good and has done wonders for relations between him and Jayne. The biggest news of the year is still about Jayne’s older daughter who found herself pregnant this year so next year I will find myself a sort of grandfather with some sort of qualification (step- or -in-law, or something like that). How did that happen?

Jayne finally persuaded me to go on a camping holiday. In fact we went to Dorset twice. It was not as bad as I feared – but don’t tell her that!

Oh yes – and my cat died..


The new year should bring new jobs for both of us, a grandchild (shudder), exams for Charlie, a new PM for the country and another set of hard-fought nail-biting elections for Crawley. It will also bring a lot of stuff which can’t be predicted and thats what I’m really looking forward to: the surprises.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • tyger

    Linda Smith – a tragic loss.

    And the Elton record was great. Don’t miss Modern Times by Dylan: a sort of bluesy ramble that enchants.