In the intermission between Christmas and New Year, as a tradition I do a series of blogs where I reflect on the previous year. Generally, once I write a blog I forget all about it. So it's a good reminder for me as much as anything. Today we look at the year in blogs. I pick my favourite from each month of the year.
A sad month for me. I lost my cousin Tessie Fanning RIP , who was my age and was a little ray of sunshine in my life. Tessie was born with Downs syndrome, the ninth of my Uncle Jimmy and Aunty Josie's ten kids. Growing up, her brother Greg, a year older than me, was one of my best mates. Although he's a Man Utd fan we've always got on well. I'd spend a lot of time at his house and got to know Tessie. You couldn't ignore her. I didn't realise it for many years but Tessie was proper punk rock without ever realising it, which was probably why I lovred her so much. In a house of Utd fans, she was an Arsenal fan. She never took any bullshit from anyone. If someone was droning on or irritating her, she'd tell them in no uncertain terms. She wore the clothes she wanted and did the things she wanted. I used to take her to Lourdes with HCPT group 560. She'd throw a strop if I didn't push her wheelchair or didn't sit next to her at dinner. She'd tell everyone I was her favourite cousin. She was mine (and I have a lot of them!). God Bless you Tessie. She taught me the most important lesson of all. Everyone matters, no matter who they are and what their challenges are. Tessie was in the care of Barnet Council social services. That is one reason why I've written this blog. For her and her friends.
If I thought January was bad, February was terrible. The son of the drummer in our band took his own life. With lockdown, we couldn't give Graham the support he deserved or needed. His son was the second child of a close friend to lose their life. Another blow was that the other friend got the coroners verdict on their daughter in the same month. The family were not happy with the verdict. It tried to sum up my feelings in Suicide and young people - The unimaginable grief I'm not entirely sure I succeeded, but I tried. I actually shed a tear rereading this.
In March, I took the rather extreme measure of shaving my head, to raise awareness of suicide and mental health issues. I felt I had to make a statement to express my solidarity with my Graham and my friends Chris and Elaine who'd also lost their daughter - Suicide - Where can you get support when you need .. - did it do any good? I've no idea. In hindsight, I think I may have had a mini meltdown. I just felt that I needed to do something, but was completely impotent in the situation. In truth, the first three months of the year were horrible beyond belief. On putting this list together, I thought long and hard about whether I should feature these. In truth, I'd be totally dishonest if I'd picked one of the others. This was all I thought about at the time.
So in April, I wrote a blog about how the past of our fine nation has given us the building blocks for a better future and why we need to honour the past and preserve the best of it, so we can learn the lessons. The blog The past is done. Lets fix the future gave me the opportunity to say a few things I've wanted to say for a long time about how we can use the building blocks of the past to make the future better. The blogs is primarily about architecture and how our local authority is at risk of making the same terrible mistake BR's management wanted to make in the 1960's when they decided to demolish St Pancras station, a decision that Sir John Betjemin lead a successful campaign to reverse.
My choice from June is a bit of fun. I asked the question "How many Guitars do you need?"
You may be shocked by my answer. It is not enough.
This was the month when normal life started to return. I saw my first gig for 15 months, the rather wonderful Ray Gelato at Ronnie Scotts - Lunchtime set 20 June... Whatever happens in the rest of my life, this will be a moment I will remember with affection. Ray was the perfect gig to mark my return to real music (ie with musicians playing in front of you). Ray is a wonderful guy. His music ain't gonna change your life, but it will damn well put a smile on your face. God Bless you Ray!
July was the month that I wrote the blog that got the best ever response. It was the 10th anniversary of the passing of Amy Winehouse and I wrote a blog about the Amy I knew. Amy rehearesed at our studios and we loved her. Total strangers sstopped me and thanked me for writing it. What more can I say The Amy Winehouse I knew at Mill Hill Music Complex...
The year started off on a Sad note. It got better. One of my mates, John Murphy's son Michael competed in the Paralympics for Ireland. To say I'm dead proud of Michael is an understatement. It certainly was a highlight of the year - Congratulations to local boy Michael Murphy for an amazing performance at the Tokyo Paralympics
In September I wrote a blog which really hit a nerve. I explained why I've never felt so terrified for the future in my life ... it's another one where people start telling me that they are glad I said it. It[s one of those moments that validate the efforts I put into this.
In October, the band went to Portugal to record an album. It was a blast. It was needed by all of us. It got me back to feeling like a human being. Needing a reboot when you are fifty nine, fat and falling apart ... My advice? get yourself a reboot. It was only reading Septembers choice that I realise how much this was needed.
It was a tough choice picking a blog from November. It is clear I'd got my mojo back! So I chose I may have taken my best ever picture of Mill Hill... which is something I'm proud of. There are some other crackers there.
And we finish with what I feel is the most important blog of December The difference between opinions and facts sometimes things just need to be said.
Lets hope that 2022 is a better year.