2019, was a pretty low key year for me. I wrote at the start of the year that I was hoping for a relatively uneventful year, and in the main, I got my wish (in my personal life at least) No getting married, moving house, changing jobs, additional children or any of the other major life events that have been a feature of most of the years of my thirties.
I did finally pass my driving test, at the 4th attempt and at the age of 39, which has been a mixed blessing at best. It is certainly convenient, but I still don’t enjoy driving very much. Bring on the self-driving cars, I say! (or even better, proper investment in public transport).
My wife and I also celebrated 10 years since we first met in May (I’m going to be very disappointed if we don’t reach at least 60, but 10 is a good start). Our children continue to delight and infuriate me, if not in equal measure, then perhaps 75/25? 80/20? 65/35? Depends when you ask me. Either way it’s a pretty good ratio and I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.
2019 was not as good for the wider world as it was for me personally, to say the least. President Trump continued to do terrifying things (2020 already also not looking great in that regard), extreme weather events hit with increasing frequency, and it felt like I spent the majority of the year glued to The Guardian politics live blog keeping an eye on Brexit developments, hoping that somehow things would work themselves out. That tiny hope disappeared at 10pm on December 12th with the General Election exit poll, my least favourite moment of the year, but probably the one I will remember the most, up there with waking up to the Brexit and Trump outcomes in 2016.
We also lost Daniel Johnston, David Berman, Keith Flint and Scott Walker, amongst others, in 2019. RIP.
On a brighter note, there was lots of great art produced in 2019 as in every other year. I did spend a lot of the year listening back to old music, but found enough time to discover wonderful albums by Cate Le Bon, Richard Dawson, Purple Mountains, Dave, Fennesz, Beth Gibbons, Alice Hubble, Big Thief and more. I also put together a playlist of my favourite 2019 songs, which you can find below. Plus I got to 8 (Eight) gigs in 2019, not many by the standards of my teens or twenties, but probably the most since I had kids. A nice variety too, from the DIY-spirited, fire alarm-interrupted triple bill of Witching Waves/Duck/Big Joanie to the spectacle of The Chemical Brothers at Manchester Arena.
TV-wise, I enjoyed Succession and Fleabag as much as everyone else did, loved Watchmen much more than I expected, and laughed at What We Do In The Shadows and the unfortunately named SMILF more than anything else. I find every Ken Burns documentary series fascinating and Country Music was no exception. But the best thing I watched all year was Shane Meadows’ The Virtues, with the finest acting perfomances I’ve seen in any format for a long time, especially from Stephen Graham.
I very rarely get to the cinema, so probably won’t see any of 2019’s best movies until 2020at the earliest, but Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was pretty good. I did however listen to a lot of podcasts, with Dolly Parton’s America, Reply All and Swindled among my favourites. Swindled in particular is well worth your time, focusing on fraud, white-collar and corporate crime. The episode on Nestle made me cry tears of sadness and rage, which I’m pretty sure no podcast has done before.
Oh, and also my wife put a couple of new tracks out. This one’s a particular favourite:
Anyhow, I hope 2019 was good to you all, and if not, then I hope that 2020 will be.