Thursday, 28 December 2017

2017 - My personal highlights and lows

As 2017 dies and 2018 looms, it is that time where I look at a few of my own personal high and low points.

High Points.

The False Dots
As a musician, this has been a great year for me. The False Dots have completed the recdording of our album "Songs of Love and War". We've also half written our next album.We also played some great gigs, most notably The North Finchley Fest at The Bohemia, The Jestefest at Fortune Green and The Barnet Eye at The Chandos in Colindale. I have really enjoyed the songwriting sessions I've had with Allen Ashley this year and then translating the numbers into band songs with Fil Ross and Graham Ramsey.

As a gig organiser, that has also been fantastic. We had the Mill Hill Music Festival, which was brilliant, the North Finchley Fest, The Jesterfest, The Mill Hill Street Markets and the Colindale Street Markets.  It has been especially good to see the emergence of Drop Pink, a great local band of teenagers at these festivals. Must give a big shout out to Senan at The Bohemia, who's been a superstar.

And as a punter, I've also seen a few absolute crackers. Most recently, we saw the Pogue Traders at The Camden Dublin Castle, which was a great night. They are a Pogues Tribute band and local blogger/musician Paul Evans is a key member. Check them out. A great night for me earlier in the year was the 999 gig also at The Dublin Castle. Perhaps the most special night was the reunion of the Vibrators 1978 line up in March at The Hope and Anchor. I'd seen this line up supported by 999 at the Roundhouse in 1978, which was one of the special nights of my youth and they didn't disappoint. Another superb gig, in a totally different genre was the legendary Jazz artist Ben Sidran at Ronnie Scotts.

As to Theatre, the undoubted highlight was seeing "The Man in Womans Shoes" and "I hear you and Rejoice" by Mikael Murfi at The Tricycle theatre in Kilburn. The Ferryman was also pretty good. On the film front, I'd say Dunkirk was the best film I saw.

As a Manchester City supporting football fan, the second half of the year has been pretty awesome. The personal highlight was our trip to the Etihad for the 7-2 demolition of Stoke City. Friends (most of whom support Arsenal and Man Utd) are whinging about "City buying the league". This is nonsense. There have been financially dominant teams before, but that doesn't mean they play great football or are even successful. City when they are in full flow are a sight to behold.

On the blogging front Tuesday, we looked at our blog highlights of the year. I think the blog has finished the year in cracking form. Of our top ten most read blogs, four were written this year. Here's our top ten of all time. For some reason, the readers have loved the recent Saturday lists. I am rather proud of this years awards. It was a triumph of everything The Barnet Eye stands for, hooking up the foodbank and the Mill Hill Rugby Club was an awesome success.

The Barnet Eye All time most read blogs


As a musician, I was really disappointed that we couldn't get the album released this year. The pressure of other work was just too much. I won't list the dodgy gigs here. Perhaps the biggest disappointment, not for the first time, is within the realms of my work at the studio. I have helped bands on numerous occasions to advance their careers. This year we've seen a couple emerge from the studio. It normally fills me with great happiness, but one band I have bent over backwards to help over a period of years chose this year to knock the studio for a trivial amount of money for a couple of rehearsals. I just cannot fathom the behaviour of some people. Why sully a relationship for £40 or  £50?

As for football, the decline of Barnet is upsetting. As my local club, it is not at all good to see them at the foot of the table. City's performance in the 2016/17 season was also disappointing, however we can now see what Pep was working towards.

As for films, I was a bit disappointed with the new Blade Runner and Star Wars films. I am not sure whether this is just because I'm now old and cynical, but I just couldn't really get inside the stories. Both seemed slightly too long and slightly too ridiculous. Maybe I was just expecting too much?

Then there was the blog. When I did the summary of 2017 earlier this week, I realised just how much I'd fallen out of love with it at the start of the year. It was only the fact that I wanted to see the stats reach 2 million hits that kept me writing it. At the start of the year, I'd privately decided to wind it up after the Mill Hill Music festival and when I had reached the two million. As it is a useful medium for promoting local gigs and festivals, it is useful. My plan wasn't to make a big announcement, just to put it down and leave it. The reason was that I'd reached the point where I could see no value in spending time doing it. Brexit and what seemed like a zero possibility of changing anything at Barnet Council had convinced me that it had had its day. My time is valuable and what is the point doing it if you can achieve nothing? So what changed my mind? Well it was no one big thing. The success of the North Finchley Music Festival and The Mill Music Festival were a factor. I was reminded that we do have a community and it is worth fighting for. Then we had the OFSTED report showing that Barnet Council was failing vulnerable young people. Then I was asked what we were doing about The Barnet Eye Community Awards this year. It was suggested to me that we should do it at the Chandos Arms and that we should add a category "Sports Club of the Year". Several people suggested that it would be a good opportunity to plug the Colindale foodbank. So I postponed the demise until the new year. I just thought it would be a criminal act to miss the chance to promote the foodbank. As it happened, the awards were brilliant and I found that I was enjoying writing blogs again. I guess we all have lulls and feel a bit low in energy from time to time.

Next year, we have council elections. These are important and as such there is clearly a purpose in writing this blog. It is a major effort. It takes a lot of time.

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