The obligatory self-indulgent look back at the year.
With 2014 just around the corner, I look back at 2013 and have to say that I have really enjoyed it. It has certainly been eventful. In fact I reckon this was the most eventful year for us since 2010 when we Rojo got run over, Diego turned up to replace him, I stood in the general election and then ended the year moving house and changing cars.
On the family front we started 2013 with Chrystal at home and just the one dog. In February little Diablo got a bit unwell and it took a £1000 vets bill to sort him out. Shortly after that Noche was old enough to leave his mother so he turned up to keep Diablo company. It was only a couple of months before he was way bigger than Diablo.
In the summer Chrystal graduated and immediately found a job near Portsmouth so moved out of the spare room and into her own flat in Gosport. After that I decided to move all my stuff into her old room and turn that into my study. That was barely finished when Chas moved back home into the second bedroom. I think we are at capacity now. If any of the other kids decide to move home they will have to squeeze into the shed.
Another highlight was going to Egypt. It was our first holiday for two years and first time in Egypt. Jayne fulfilled an ambition by going scuba diving while I was happy enough just snorkelling near the beach, where I still got to see rays, puffer fish, giant eels, trumpet fish and dozens of other fishy species.
The whole year was happy because I changed jobs at last. I got the news in January and moved upstairs in February. I’m still enjoying the new job and new department and the change really perked me up.
2013 was also a year of technological revolution in the Skuds household. Jayne and I both moved from BlackBerries to Android phones and I got an Android tablet too. I also acquired a DAB radio and some Internet speakers so I can stream Internet radio around the house from the tablet or phone. To complete the transformation I upgraded the TV to a full HD one in the sales after Christmas.
I’m still using all this modern gadgetry to play 10-year-old games, watch 20-year-old films and listen to 30-year-old music so perhaps I’m not totally state of the art yet. The Internet lets you discover new stuff so easily, but I was still most pleased that during the year Spotify started making available Pink Floyd, Metallica, and Led Zeppelin.
That is not to say that nothing new caught my attention musically. I enjoyed some new albums by Pere Ubu, Richard Thompson, Depeche Mode, Alison Moyet, Pet Shop Boys, the Fall, Manic Street Preachersl and Arctic Monkeys. A few artists made welcome returns after a bit of an absence, most spectacularly David Bowie but also Black Sabbath released their best album in many years, Franz Ferdinand popped up with an instant classic, Iggy and the Stooges released new material and OMD came up with a brilliant Kraftwerk-y album. Elton John continued with his run of decent albums and Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP 2 contained a stunning song based on the Zombies’ Tie of the Season.
Everything was well in the rock world with new albums by Megadeth, Deep Purple, Finntroll, the aforementioned Sabbath LP and something by Newsted, fronted by Metallica’s old bass player, but I found myself increasingly wanting to listen to new psychedila- and krautrock-influenced music like Traams and Toy, and enjoying bands like Public Service Broadcasting, ESG and Disclosure.
Having siad that though, the best thing I heard all year was a totally new band – the Strypes, who I cannot praise highly enough.
Although I continue to not watch all the things everybody is talking about (Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, Breaking Bad, Pro-Celebrity Dancing/Cooking/Baking, talent shows, reality shows) we did find a number of programmes that both of us wanted to watch so had some good sessions catching up with recorded episodes of Elementary, Revolution, Arrow, Hannibal, The Wrong Mans and Ripper Street, but as far as television is concerned 2013 is the year I got really hoooked on Pointless.
There were the usual celebrity deaths during the year, most notably Thatcher and Nelson Mandela, but also the most poignant non-death (so far anyway) – Wilko, who is still touring despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The year ends with the anticlimax of not getting our first ever brand-new car. After it cost over £1000 to get the old Focus through its MOT in February we decided that being perpetual last-owners was a bit of a false economy and took the plunge with a new car, and hoped it would be with us for xmas, but it won’t turn up until January.
At least that is already something to look forward to for 2014. I can’t see it being as eventful for us as 2013 but I am always willing to be pleasantly surprised.