Here we are at the last day of 2011. As some people would say, its been a year of ups and downs. I agree with this. I’ve been up some hills, particularly over August in Edinburgh, and I’ve also been down the same hills in order to get back to where I lived. I’ve been up some escalators and again, down some later otherwise I’d have had to live upstairs in a shopping centre. There have been some good times, like 22.22 which I always find aesthetically pleasing and some bad times like 15 x 276, which is too difficult for me. Personally though I’ve found 2011 a difficult year to decide whether or not it can join my non-existent log of good years – the annums not favourite tyres or blimps. I should point out that I honestly don’t have one of these. Partly because I consider the end of the Edinburgh festival to be my end of year comedy & career wise, but also because I find that in my cynical old age I know full well that it’ll hit midnight and nothing all that dramatic is going to happen. Unless the Mayans were right and 2012 is going to be the end of the world, in which case I’m very glad I’ll embrace it sitting at home with L having a drink, finishing my drawing of a viking rather than being surrounded by mega twats moshing their skin off in an over priced underground ship’s container. And yes, I know the Mayan’s predicted the end of the world will happen in September so really, that’ll be after Edinburgh anyway and technically in my next year.
But let’s board this band wagon and look at why 2011 was indeed one of shits and giggles. In terms of the world, it was proper massive elephant sized dung shit. The economic crisis swept across the Western world allowing several governments including our own, to make horrible cuts and changes that all very much affected the lower classes and not at all the banking pricks and the rich that caused them in the first place. Several ‘evil’ dictators died or were killed while other people have been put in place that those who dictated why the original tyrants should be usurped can more easily sell weapons to. Horrible natural disasters have happened, thousands of people have died unnecessarily and overall we all felt very much more mortal and vulnerable. We became the first generation of people who think their children will have a worse future than they will and that is a truly horrible thought. Though at the same time it may save us having to read them really sickly bedtime stories with happy endings and instead go for Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or repeat viewings of Mad Max to prepare them. We’ve had more and more obnoxious people trawl the internet making nasty comments unnecessarily, generally being shit to each other and all the while instead of preventing or dissuading the public from doing this, the press have proved itself to be far more responsible for such ills than anyone else. Oh and Gil Scott Heron died which was a terrible loss for the world. Then again to balance all this, there was Frozen Planet and that was great.
Personally though, I’ve had a great year. Sad times mean comedy thrives and career wise I haven’t been busier. I’ve gigged in several different countries, to thousands of amazing people, done a bit of telly and more importantly than any of that, I’ve gigged at protests and events I’ve felt were important. I’ve written material and spoken about things I actually give a shit about and get passionate about rather than just harp on about bears. Which to be fair, I’ve also done. I’ve honestly never felt more pride standing up in front of a massive crowd on Westminster Bridge on a sunny afternoon talking to a massive crowd about why we need the NHS. Or way back in March on the big TUC demonstration, doing stand-up hundreds of people while police helicopters rattled over us. Edinburgh was a mixed bag but of all the things that I didn’t expect, the children’s show that was written in three hours and put together in such a ramshackle haste ended up being a 5 star hit and has lead to some very exciting things. Above all this, I’ve met someone who I completely adore, managed to get a car, went to three zoos, found Adventure Time, was a best man for my best friend, found out I can’t snowboard, and last night I pretended to be Guy Garvey and getting the entire room to sing the chorus of ‘One Day Like This’ so I could stop for a second and drink more beer. Music wise I saw James Blake silence a tent of thousands at Bestival, Elbow smash both the O2 and Glastonbury with an amazing reverse Mexican wave at the latter through the entire crowd at the Pyramid Stage. Me and L watched the National sing ‘Vanderlyle Cry Baby’ acapella while the crowd whispered along, sending a chill down everyone’s spines and we both witnessed DJ Shadow perform to incredible visuals from inside the Shadowsphere. I watched Radiohead from a rainy hill while the gorgeous people of the Pink Bus provided shelter and food, peeked into the tent at Lounge on the Farm where Goodnight Lenin played and then decided they would be the opening track to my Edinburgh show. I watched Sam Duckworth do an amazing solo gig at the Borderline club to an awestruck crowd, which, along with previous meetings, led to my Small Guy Garvey show last night. I’ve worked with a puppeteer who was involved with so many films and tv shows I’ve loved, I struggled to hold back tears, clutching L’s hand so tightly while watching Translunar Paradise at the Pleasance Dome and I won the Slammer. So y’know, it’s been pretty good. Oh yeah and I started drawing a viking.
2012 has a lot to live up to. Selfishly, I’m not looking forward to the Olympics and Euro 2012 destroying the comedy scene for several months making bill paying tough. I’m also not looking forward to the effects of the government’s cuts continuing to destroy UK society. I know it’ll be another year where I will be consistently baffled as to how some people can operate by being so horrible and inconsiderate to others. But there’s loads more I am looking forward to, because (and excuse the retchy seriousness) life is always what you make it, and right now I’m enjoying making it fun. I hope the rest of the world realises that we can make stuff happen if you put your minds to it and frankly, we don’t have to stand for the oppression we face. I’m not doing resolutions as such, but aside from cutting down on eating entire bags of Kettle Chips in one sitting (less of a resolution, and more of a ‘trying not to die’ plan) I aim to continue to do what I can to voice my opinion in an accessible way and hope to make a difference as minor as it may be. Oh and I’m totally going to finish the viking drawing.
May you have an excellent night tonight, whether you be brave enough to go against expectation and be out partying, or like me and L, stay in and eat curry. I hope you’ve all had a great 2011 and will have an even better 2012. I hope you make some decisions, chase some exciting dreams and stick to them all and make them all happen. And if you can’t think of any, why not start with a viking drawing?