New Year Revolutions
Highlights of 2012
Well, let's begin with the aforementioned failure of the world to end on 21 December. I was at work when the moment passed. We knew that it wasn't going to happen but, ever since 1973 when copies of Awake and the Watchtower (and Peter Knowles of Wolverhampton Wanderers) had convinced me that the world would end before I reached 14 years old, I've always found a hint of superstitious dread bubbling up from the arachnid part of my brain whenever the world is supposed to end.
Of course, the Many World's Theory suggests that every possible universe happens and that there is one universe in which I live forever (whatever forever means) so, as time goes on, the probability that THIS is the universe where I am the Observer and so the Immortal increases until, some time in the late 21st century, say 2080 or 2090, it approaches certainty. Certainly, if I am still self-aware in 2100, I will consider it safe to assume I am the immortal.
Then there was Mastermind, when I stepped into the Limelight. I'll leave the details of that to come below, but there was also The Voice. I didn't get through the audition for the Voice and so there was no limelight, but nevertheless, it was a heck of a lot more fun than a previous attempt to get on the X-factor. Instead of queuing up for 14 hours to have a chance to sing in front of someone who knew as much about music as I know about leveraged buyouts of former Soviet banking utilities, there was a much shorter queue with no random filming to use us as free extras (and then having to do the whole thing again for six hours at the Emirates). When it came to my audition, there were about a dozen of us being seen by a vocal coach and a record company executive, both of whom seemed to be engaged with the process. We began, not with launching straight into song but with vocal exercises and relaxation exercises, just to ensure we could all sing in front of an audience. Then we came to do our songs. The vocal coach was visibly pleased when I chose to do "We're In This Together" by Nine Inch Nails but I didn't get through. This was partly because I forgot the words, partly because I let my voice drop for the verse, and partly because I'm 52 years old and have to try much harder. They were right to reject me because I wouldn't have lasted five minutes on the vocal battle on that showing. Must try harder.
Of course the other highlight, given I live in London, was the Olympics and Paralympics. To be honest, they seem like they were years ago. I understand team GB did rather well, but can't remember it well. I can't even remember who won the the European Championship. What I remember of the Paralympics was my wife taking young Tashai to Jamaica while I got on with trying to study up on Alice Cooper and the History of Poland for may Mastermind appearance.
My wife also went back to work after over a year off sick with damaged rotor cuff muscles. I'm glad to see she's better.
Some shitty things happened in 2012 as well. On 29 February, I played my last gig for Vaccination. At the time I thought the gig (at the New Cross Inn) was awful, with only Richard Winstanley (Beats/Guitar), Chris Renison (Melodica) and Me (Dulcitar/Vocals) on stage and I walked off about five minutes before the end. In retrospect, now that I've heard the recording, it was a good gig, but I was so pissed off already by nobody turning up for a soundcheck that I guess I was predisposed to flounce.
Sadly, Vaccination continued for only two more gigs and the band itself split up in April but band members' other projects (eg. the Serota Tendency, The Transmutations, and Passionate People) are still going strong.
As some of you may know, the Police kicked down my door in June 2010 and I'm suing them for compensation. We finally had a date for the case on 13 December but the Court called at the last minute (afternoon of the 12th) to postpone it. We now have a new date in May 2013, almost three years after the original raid.
I also developed a chest cold in November 2012, which kept me off work for a couple of weeks and from which I have not yet fully recovered. I had an x-ray, which showed a shadow on my lung. This needs to be repeated in January. I also have some blood tests coming up. The doctor initially thought it was COPD, but after another examination says my lungs are actually healthy. She is now considering congestive heart disease, diabetes and liver problems. We will see.
In The Spotlight
As well as the last gig with Vaccination, I also performed with the Sweet Smelling Swampies. The gigs I want to highlight were Miranda's fourth of July Party and the November gig at Guy's Hospital.
The line-up for Miranda's gig was Mike Fleming (banjo, cajun accordion, harp) John Giltrow (guitar), Laura Koonjean (guitar, vocals), Ken (Ukulele banjo) and me (vocals). Ken also filmed bits when he wasn't playing. Highlights included American Pie (the only time I've performed it in public), Laura's version of Jolene, and Alexander's Ragtime Band (which we introducd in honour of Miranda's son, Alex, who is five).
Like all our gigs at Guy's it wasn't just a Swampies gig but included a fluid collection of musicians on stage at various times. On the night the Swampies were (more or less) Mike Fleming (Banjo, Accordion, Harp, flute), John Giltrow (guitar), Laura Koonjean (vocals), Francis Dickinson (Fiddle and vocals), me (Vocals) and at one point my friend Sara Shipton joined on fiddle. Besides the Swampies, Francis played with his wife, Laura played solo, I played with Joe Neanor, and Mike played with Pat the barman (singing And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda).
My own performances on the night were (with Joe) Innocent When You Dream, Hurt, and Dancing Barefoot, (and with the Swampies) Big Rock Candy Mountain, Cripple Creek, Mack the Knife, Lilli Marlene (in German) and Sympathy for the Devil.
Then we rounded off the night with everybody doing Lilli Marlene in both German and English. A great time was had by all.
In the Limelight
And of course, there was my moment in the Limelight where the BBC showed my performance in the first round of Mastermind. I answered questions on Alice Cooper and won the contest by one point. The semi final has also been filmed, but is yet to be shown on television, so I can't tell you the result yet.
So, that's 2012 - Out with the old.