It’s been, I think we can all agree, somewhat of an odd year. I thought I’d round it out with some things that bought me joy in 2020.
Time with the kids
I won’t lie: having the kids at home for so much of the lockdown was a mixed blessing. One thing that I’ve taken pleasure in is the huge leap in their creativity and satisfaction they take from creating. They’ve both developed their own drawing skills and style, in part from experimentation and in part from following YouTube tutorials. This will also go down as the year they discovered iMovie, and created their first films. The highlight of this movie making was The Cursed Butterfly. The Oscars beckon…
I’ve also loved spending time in the woods with the girls, teaching M how to whittle wood and helping B with her self-taught bouldering. We’ve made a semi-regular occurrence of heading into the local woods for a couple of hours: taking hot chocolate, hammocks and a tarpaulin and just setting up a little ad hoc scout camp. More of this next year.
I dedicated a chunk of time to creative endeavours this year.
First off, I decided it would be a good idea to spend upwards of an hour a day recording versions of songs using a Roland TR-08 and a range of mini-synths. This madness is fully documented on the 2” Condensed Mixes. Enjoy!
Once I’d got that out of my system, I turned my “talents” to some lockdown recording with some good friends that I’m in a band with. I love this band and all the guys in it so much, its been one of my greatest sadnesses not to have played more with them. Next year. In the meantime, here’s our paean to Lockdown: Black Lock Nine.
My own favourite of these is “Tie My Laces”.
Finally, I was honoured to record the Sing All Ye Citizens choir. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a few choral projects of Liz Powers and Alison Crutchley, and I was delighted to be asked to record / livestream this latest performance. The livestream was seriously 2020-ed, but the performance (and, thankfully, audio recording) ended up being amazing. I was fortunate to be present at (and capture) the candlelit after performance in the ruins of St Thomas à Becket church in Heptonstall.
This was the year of my Beauty Pill epiphany. I was introduced to this superlative band thanks to the 99 Percent Invisible episode Roman Mars Describes Things As They Are. They sat in my Spotify list for a month or so before I really started to get them. Since that point, I’ve become an avid follower and proselytiser of the true faith, probably to my friends and family’s immense annoyance. The high point of their year, in my opinion, is their protest single Instant Night, which soundtracked and crystallised the angst of the US election. The video, illustrated by Ryan Nelson (former member and spouse of current member Erin Nelson), is worth a watch.
In the words of the advert, I loved them so much I bought the t-shirt. I ended up ordering XS, not XL, resulting in this hilarious and touching scenario that Chad Clark of the band instagrammed.
It’s not been all Beauty Pill though. Another go-to album has been Hen Ogledd’s superb Free Humans. This has the benefit that the girls also like it, so something we can share. As we speak, my current earworm is Tiny Witch Hunter, which is not actually from that album, but is excellent.
Finally, I’m pledging my allegiance to Self Esteem’s Compliments Please which, following a set at Rockaway Beach, has been firmly lodged in my psyche. It’s relentlessly upbeat, strong and self confident. Just the kind of thing we’ve all needed this year.
I finally discovered the love of running in 2020, having toyed with it for a few years. I’m still not what you’d call a regular, but I’ve just bought my second set of running shoes for 2021, so I’m definitely on the path! This is in large part down to the amazing Jimmy Watkins and the broader Running Punks community. I’m not a natural joiner, but there’s something infectious in Jimmy’s enthusiasm that makes runners of anyone with half a mind!
Meals in with the wife
We may not have eaten out like previous years, but there were some cracking meals in: most notably the meal from Yakumama in Todmorden when we ended up dancing round the kitchen to the Sophie Ellis-Bextor Kitchen Disco. This is probably closely followed by our 10th anniversary brunch of a Dishoom Bacon Naan kit with chai. Mmmmm.
Yeah, work. I’ve been lucky this year that I’ve worked with some amazing people on some great things. Highlights have to be working with the ODI and ODI Leeds on the COVID/Education study, being involved in the ODI Leeds Northernlands 2 virtual event with the Kingdom of the Netherlands (including being paid to compose 2 minutes of countdown music for the live streams), and my continued involvement with the Equal Care Co-op.
Wishing you all a happy New Year! Here’s to a positive 2021.