What did I accomplish this year then? Here are ten egocentric highlights from 2011, arranged in no particular order, as I remember them. Reality may differ. Of course, you could avoid my self-oriented prattling, but it’s my blog. My blog, that I write. Do as you see fit.
- I played live on stage with Shlomo at the Birmingham date of his Mouthtronica tour.
- My eldest son joined a junior woodwind orchestra, and played his first concert. Because their pianist was sick, I stood in and played with him, accompanying the orchestra. It was very cool to share that with him from the stage, and he obviously loved it.
- I played at an open mic night at The White Lion, Walsall. Since playing keyboards in Retrosexual, I hadn’t done much, and remembering who I am through playing keyboards with a blues jam was exactly the thing I needed.
- I earned my #teamBCA badge. A bunch of friends and associates meeting randomly at a favourite pub has now become a Twitter hashtag in its own right. So much so we have badges.
- Emma and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in May, a milestone by modern standards, and it’s a relief that she’s still putting up with me!
- I visited the US for the first and probably last time in my professional life. A week in Philadelphia at Head Office learning how the Americans do what I do (on a scale of 100 times bigger, and with different products, and on a different basis, but apart from that just like in the UK)
- My youngest son started Nursery and took part in his first school Nativity. Unfortunately I missed this, but we have the DVD…
- I gave Steve Lawson a lift home, when he was stranded away from his family. This ranks as one of the craziest random acts of kindness I have ever perpetrated, and to boot I met the nicest guy possible. He’s a hero. (He’s also a professional solo bass player. I recommend you buy some of his stuff.)
- A guy whose opinions I respect and who taught me a great deal about being a grown up when you’re trying to square a Christian faith against a manky world told me I was doing at least some of it right. Sometimes, there is nothing greater than earning the pride of someone else when you weren’t trying to or looking for it.
- My clarinet playing son surprised me with his ability to improvise freely. He just plays the notes he knows… I wish I was that innocent about it.
I wish I could say it was only these awesome things that made 2011 what it was, but there were so many good bits.
Not to say there were no bad bits. Close and dear friends have suffered deep bereavements, injury, mental anguish and even been tempted to suicide. What can you do? I’ve prayed and cried, with and for them, listened, donated coffee, and still feel that there’s more I could have done. Work is a bit fraught right now, and I didn’t make as much music as I was hoping this year.
On balance, though, this year has been a bit of a corker. I should be glad and thankful for all the good stuff. This is it for one year then, and on to the next.