2014, then

Highlights

  • Entered a bunch of UK dancing competitions. These are tougher than the international ones: there are more competitors, and the standard is higher. This was entirely the point, as I wanted to be challenged. And so I was: I failed, and I failed hard. Honestly, it was ridiculous. In the entire year I got through a single round, which took me into a quarter final. This was tougher to deal with than I’d anticipated, to be honest. But I’ll keep working. Hopefully I’ll get better. And it meant I got to dance at the Blackpool Winter Gardens, which was great (the dancing world is the only place the word ‘Blackpool’ is spoken with reverence).
  • I also went back to the competition at Disneyland Paris, where I promptly came down with a head cold the moment I stepped off the Eurostar. Grrr. But I managed to dance everything, if not at a particularly high standard, and we managed to do our showdance. There’s no close-up video of that, but you can see us in the distance:
  • I was on the BBC2 quiz show Pressure Pad, along with a team of celebrants:
  • I spent my birthday afternoon learning to be a trapeze artist:
  • Danced a showdance at a gala in June:

 

  • Survived the World Humanist Congress. 18 months of preparation for 1000 delegates from 50 countries attending simultaneous events around Oxford across 4 days. I was photographer so was needed everywhere – which was good, as it meant I didn’t miss anything. Quite possibly the most intense 4 days of my life.

Favourite books

  • Joyland – Stephen King. A bit of a departure in that it’s barely even a chiller, but it’s really quite touching.
  • A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness / Siobhan Dowd. Can’t say much about this. Not going to forget it any time soon.
  • The Sense of Style – Steven Pinker. All the attention has been on the final 1/3 of the book, in which he demolishes preachy grammar ‘rules’. This is fun, but I found the first 2/3 more interesting. It’s full of practical advice on writing clearly – complete with reasoning that goes far beyond the it-just-is tone of similar books. Tom Freeman’s mini review says everything I would, but better.
  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic – David Quammen. Fascinating, well written, and scaring the hell out of me.
  • Dataclysm – Christian Rudder. The OkCupid stats blog guy gets a whole book to play with, and spends his time merrily discovering counter-intuitive results in massive data sets. In the first few pages he kills the idea that men’s attitudes towards female attractiveness are being altered by routine photoshopping, for example. Never really stops after that. Ends too early.
  • I also worked through a dozen or so Harry Bosch books. LA homicide detective who can’t be beaten for getting stuff done.

Last year’s resolutions

  • Dance more, dance better. Kinda managed this, though I could still practice much more.
  • Less work, more holidays. Lulz. No.
  • Do more stuff. Didn’t really manage this either.
  • Budget. This I did! It actually worked! Separate blog post coming up, now it’s been 12 months.

2015 resolutions

  • 1-3 of last year still need doing
  • Do…something. I’m restless at the moment. Work is a bit same old, and I’m not progressing. Need to fix.