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Thursday, December 21

Review of the Year 2006

This was a major year in my life, moving from Newcastle, where I'd lived for about 13 years, to The South. Exactly where in The South I was moving to was unclear to me when I moved, though I knew I had a job in Farnborough and a girlfriend in Southampton and Reading (one girlfriend, two locations - dependent on whether she was at uni or at home). After a year, I'm still unclear exactly where I was moving to.

Here is a breakdown by month of vaguely interesting things I blogged about over the course of the year, along with anything else I can remember happening around the time.

January
I started my new job and tried to get over the events leading up to my resignation from my last job. Despite writing an article for Micro Mart around this time on why blogging is best done in short bursts, I wrote a massive and unreadable blog entry on Jan 22nd when I recommenced the blogging.

I found a room in a house-share in Farnborough and in one 3 hours session in Newcastle, loaded enough stuff into my car to enable me to move into it and redecorate the walls which were horrible and dirty. The car held plenty.

I got back into gigging after the winter break and did a spot at my favourite club - XS Malarkey. This both went well and went badly, depending on how you look at it. I had found my break from comedy had made some stuff fresher, but had drained my ability to do longer sets and keep the energy up.

All the fun of starting a new job got me quite into long-winded debates about how to program and whether development and evolution could be compared. This was very dull indeed and coincided with my first car crash.

February
I started watching a lot of episodes of Friends and discovered that people on eBay were a bunch of thieving imbeciles, wanting £500 for an entire 10-box set collection of all the episodes ever.

We watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks chuckling at the word knob. This was childish, but it's a kiddies' film, so that's fair enough.

I managed to spend a couple of nights in my place in Farnborough and did a weekend of gigging, including winning a heat of a competition. I couldn't feel too smug about it, given that it was a new act competition and I wasn't even slightly new.

Work was challenging and I was getting stuff written and made. Just as I was getting the hang of it, I was dispatched to a noddy course on how to do the stuff I was doing. This turned into a week of near-boredom as the course progressed at the rate of the slowest person, which wasn't me, by a long way: there were only two other people there. The course took me to London every day, involving various train journey sillinesses, including Valentine's/Chip & Pin day.

I was still looking back at the job I left, but looking forward to arranging my way into my new life. I made a trip to Newcastle to de-Ashley-fy my house, ready for tenants. This, essentially, involved putting my worldly possssions into boxes in the loft, into my car for bringing down South, or into a skip. Those I left behind became either loans to the household, or things-that-come-with-the-house. The return journey, after an exhausting house-empty, had me single-handedly moving my piano into my sister's newly decorated house. That was weird.

My car, post-crash, was also suffering various maladies and needed repair. I ended up driving round in a borrowed Micra for a bit.

I was getting progressively fatter.

March
I got even fatter. I wrote Around the World in 80 Websites and neglected my blog. Bad me!

People moved into my house in Newcastle and started paying me rent. It was more cost effective for me than paying all the bills on an empty house.

April
Suddenly, I realised what was bothering me and went on a diet. Seriously. It just happened. I then went on to lose over 3 stone - maybe even 4.

I invested a lot of effort into upgrading my MP3 player, which started with buying an expensive hard drive for it, which I ended up having to pick up from my house in Newcastle. With this drive, I then proceeded to break my MP3 player.

I tried to complete my adaptation of The Musical! from its one hour Edinburgh version to a 90 minute two-act stage show by writing an arrangement of one of the new songs, around the time that my mouth was tender from my first dentist visit in quite some time. Both were unpleasant experiences.

My car was finally fixed after its accident in January. The repair came pre-dented.

My friends in Newcastle were losing their jobs owing to the fact that the company I used to work for had gotten into deeper and deeper trouble since the time that I deserted its sinking ship like a rat, deserting a sinking ship.

May
I was temporarily getting a little fervent about the work in my job. This is a good thing as I had a passion that made me want to go in of a morning. It was also a bad thing as it meant that I could get irritated if people didn't share my view on something. I managed to face a particularly unimpressed reaction with some grace. I also started missing performing in musicals. As of December 2006, I'm still missing it.

My MP3 player was fixed (by me) during a busy day of unimportant activities.

I hit upon a smashing solution for car insurance that will never happen. Then I reinsured my car with Kwik Fit and forgot about it.

I watched a lot of the first series (as in the first recent series) of Doctor Who and attended a wedding at short notice.

I started arranging a new mortgage for my Newcastle house - the aim was to pay less and extract equity enough to buy a home down South.

Just in case things were looking dull, I got myself roped in to a stand-up showcase in London for August. I say roped in, when I really mean that I volunteered for something stupid. My own fault.

June
I was clearly getting a bit too big for myself and going round either winding people up or being easily wound up - I'm sure my driving reflected this attitude.

Many long nights were spent in the pursuit of my girlfriend's degree. She did the work, I did the moral support. It was coming to an end and we were glad.

I found out that I was being evicted from my Farnborough house - a house I'd spent very little time in. I also started getting deeply self referential (this article is only making it worse).

Plans were progressing with the remortgage of the Newcastle house and I even managed to avoid falling for the old insurance sales-pitch.

With home-making in mind and with a plan to move into my girlfriend's parents' house. We entered the flat-pack stage of our relationship, visiting Ikea far too much and even putting up shelves together. We even bought a bed, which turned out to be an adventure.

I also started writing BurberryAndBroccoli while denying that I was connected with it.

July
In a high pressure situation at work - the half-yearly bonuses were depending on me - I decided to scoot off to Scotland to see a play. I enjoyed myself, though people around me were vaguely unimpressed. I even got a thank-you note in the programme (not for watching it, but for other reasons).

In that same week, in a fit of stupidity, I had managed to arrive early for a gig - about 3 days too early. It was a gig in the Blackpool area, but it proved to be worthwhile returning there on the right date.

We went to see Jerry Springer The Opera in Brighton at the end of its UK tour. Some Christians gave us a leaflet.

Preparations began in earnest for the Fringe in August. I had a photoshoot, which provided me my publicity shot and also an image for use on the poster of the show we did. I gigged all over the place to get myself into the right level of practice. I hadn't realised at this point that I'd be using Edinburgh to learn new tricks, rather than repeat old ones.

With summer on the way and a new guinea pig run to assemble, there was a guinea pig war and I was a casualty. We solved the problem with The Berlin Wall For Guinea Pigs.

My girlfriend came with me to a weird gig I did in a tent in the open air in Southampton. Very weird. The child heckler was the best. We were soon to return to Southampton for her graduation.

Having achieved much in my new job, the company was bought out and everything changed completely. As of the time of writing, it's still changing.

August
I did a week long run of the stand-up showcase in Camden. This brought back memories of doing something better. In actual fact, we had to cancel a number of the performances when no audience (and in some cases, the third act) arrived. Very big waste of time. Still, some shows were worth doing and brought old friends back into my life.

I started to prepare for the Edinburgh festival. I did this by watching tons of episodes of Lost and then forgetting to send a CD I'd sold on eBay back in June. However, my mortgage application for Newcastle was nearly complete - I had also been the delay on some of this.

Had a great time in Edinburgh, saw some friends, saw more shows, performed a load. Got confused when reality dared to show its face, and then tried to forget everything by watching the Bouncy Castle Hamlet and making a point in a charity shop only to discover that I was acting true to type.

My own stand-up was greatly affected by the combination of a sore throat and a desire to prove a point, such that I ditched the guitar and did some spoken material, only some of which was consistently poorly received.

Returning to work, there was much confusion following the buy out of the company. Redundancies were to happen and all projects and indeed all bets were off.

After leaving my girlfriend to herself while I swanned off to Edinburgh for the Fringe, it was nice that we went to a festival together - Cardiff. I've shown her the world, well, Wales.

September
Work was getting harder, but that didn't seem to be the priority since I was getting ready to go on holiday and mooching round being a post-Edinburgh comedian. I soon discovered that to my combined relief and chagrin, I'd be keeping my job. It was good because I would be paid, and not so good, because being in a perpetual state of flux wasn't my thing.

We were going on holiday to Kenya and I was feeling really odd, which I attribute to the holiday vaccinations.

We went on holiday after I'd sunk to new depths on the blog, which I'd also accidentally filled. The blog got two weeks off.

Just as we were leaving for holiday, a cheque for "silly money" arrived from the solicitors dealing with my Newcastle mortgage. Newcastle was sorted. While on holiday we decided to use that money to buy an investment property and let it out.

October
House hunting had begun in earnest and I was already getting dog-tired of estate agents and amazed at what people think it's reasonable to charge good money for.

I managed to lampoon a spam mail in such a way that I caused an international incident. Well, the incident was happening from overseas. I got an article for Micro Mart out of it too.

Only 9 days into the house hunting, I made an offer on the house we wanted. It was this house that we'd eventually buy. A second offer four days later was accepted.

With a bumper busy month of gigs and other things, I still found the time to go to a friend's gig. He was recently back home from a year in Japan with a new album recorded in the weeks of his arrival. I'd only seen him a couple of times since his return, once in Edinburgh. It was weird going to someone else's gig for a change.

The house buying hit a slow patch with various surveys taking their time. By the end of the month it looked like I should expect not to buy the house after all.

Work was vaguely on the up.

I decided to write a comedy drama about an office. Like that hasn't been done.

November
With winter approaching, I set about messing up the construction of some Guinea Pig nesting boxes. I got there in the end.

I was excited about the publication of my article about the incident I caused in october and rushed to buy a copy of the magazine.

I set up a blog in which I had a short-lived spurt of enthusiasm for posting ridiculous inventions. I may go back to it at some point.

We went to see a few shows which chased away the winter blues very nicely.

The one-year anniversary of my resignation from my last employer arrived and I took the opportunity to revisit how I felt about it all. It had played less and less on my mind, especially after July's events when my new job was changed quite radically. Work had been improving slowly but surely, too. Emphasis on the slowly.

We tried Ceroc and liked it. This was potentially a whole new avenue for us, though it soon petered out when they cancelled the particular Ceroc group we had gone to.

I ended the month by revising my offer on the house in the light of the survey and various reports which seemed to take ages to get.

December
The run in for Crisis Open Christmas began and the year started to feel like it was ending rapidly.

Work had turned into something with a clearly defined start and end. These were wrong, but they were consistently wrong, which was reassuring.

Bored of the office drama, the first episode of which I hadn't even completed, I started writing a spoof detective series which makes me laugh.

We reached the end of the something clearly defined and I felt like things were getting boring again, but the year was almost over.

As the icing on the cake of the year (that doesn't make much sense). I decided to finally send the CD that I didn't send in August. In August it would have been a month or so late. I sent it nearly 6 months after the eBay buyer had paid me. Still, it was sent.

What next?
2007, probably. A bit of work tomorrow, followed by a trip to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Not a bad way to end a year.

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