And so we wave farewell to 2012, year of contrasts

I’ve been talking about starting a blog for months if not years, so why am I finally doing it now? Two reasons:

First, I started writing notes to myself about all that happened in 2012, which has been a pretty momentous year for me. I realised that I wanted to share this with others, but that it had already got far too long for a status update.

Second, I made some comments earlier today on Emily Winterburn’s excellent post about the Cox/Ince New Statesman editorial.  My comments eventually ended up longer than Emily’s post, which seemed bad-mannered, and it occurred to me that in future I should probably put such noodlings on my own site.

The upshot of all this is that my first post does not give a clear manifesto of what I intend to write on this blog. This is partly because I don’t have one, although I do have a few ideas… Instead, here is a highly personal tour of 2012.

Happy New Year everyone; see you on the flipside.


Farewell then 2012. It has been one of my most eventful years for a long while with a lot to remember.

It was the year that I quit the civil service after 13 years, took a break and then returned to studenthood with a Masters in Archives & Records Management at UCL.

It was the year of running my first marathon since 2003 (3:38, since you ask), getting injured, binning the next marathon, discovering I’ve been suffering from Vit B12 deficiency (go figure) and making big plans for another assault on the 26.2 next year.

It was the year I put some real distance between myself and rowing for the first time in 18 years, and strangely enough didn’t regret it all.

Notwithstanding that, it was the year of going on the water with Harvard, of spending Friday night at the Sox game and Saturday night at the Boston Pops.  Of standing on Little Roundtop in the rain and mentally projecting myself back 150 years. Of discovering the  paintings of Vance Kirkland, of two days rolling across the Rockies, Utah desert and Sierra Nevada, finding Barbary Lane *just* as I had imagined it, chasing rainbows at Vernal Falls, conquering Observation Point, seeing Saturn *and* two of its moons while stargazing at Bryce Canyon, walking the Bright Angel, watching the Bellagio fountains (and, of course, pretending to be in Ocean’s 11), of watching the sun set over Griffith Park and then having the most magical walk back to my hotel, of sitting in the Observation Car on the Coast Starlight listening to jazz, reading my kindle, drinking wine, and watching the mountains and forests of Oregon go by, of loving Seattle coffee houses (and donuts).

Of running along the Charles, around the Lincoln Memorial, down the Michigan Lake Shore, past Fisherman’s Wharf, up the Vegas Strip and (disappointingly) finishing on a Seattle hotel treadmill.

It was, of course, the year of the Olympics.  For me, that meant feeling more patriotic than I can ever remember feeling before thanks to the genius of Danny Boyle, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Underworld et al in celebrating our crazy, contradictory, glorious, sprawling mess of a country. Of watching the cyclists speeding across Putney Bridge and the Brownlee brothers pelting through Hyde Park. Of cheering Issaka the Otter home at Dorney. Of tearing up when Kath and Bebo won gold. Of mexican waves, sudden showers and huge fun at the Beach Volleyball. Of Live and Let Die heralding another late night on the sofa with Gabby. Of Eddie Butler’s montage magic. And of gently deflating at the mainstream mediocrity of the Closing Ceremony.

It was the year of volunteering at the Royal Society, getting to hold the manuscript of the Principia Mathematica and blogging about my experience of trying to decipher the Duke of Sussex’s terrible handwriting.

It was the year of the Higgs and Mars Curiosity, both of which I found intensely gripping, and all the more fun for sharing the excitement through twitter.

It was the year of Inspector Norse, Must B The Music and of Hot Chip’s best album yet (and a fab live show). Of FIP, Radio Paradise and Soma FM Poptron. Of discovering TEED, Django Django, DELS, the 2 Bears, the bird & the bee, Crystal Fighters and We Have Band. Of rediscovering Ramsey Lewis, Sing Sing Sing and the Fats Domino cover of Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey).

It was the year of Adventure Time, A Scandal in Belgravia and Oswin Oswald.  Of The Pirates!, The Avengers and the year that Bond. Was. Back.

It was the year of Jenkinson, Schellenberg and the Dutch Manual; the continuum, structuration, siding with Alan Sokal, PD5454, the series system, EDRM, 3D scanning, the memex and half-formed ideas for my dissertation.

Of dangerously cheap coffee, white chocolate and alcohol. Of getting to the second round of selection for the UCL University Challenge team. Of a ridiculously overcrowded common room.  Of late night discussions with UCL ASHS (inevitably progressing from evolutionary theory, neuroscience, ethics and current affairs to sex. Every. Freaking. Time) and of singing about the Mighty Khan.

It was the year of finally getting to grips with twitter, getting the TRC soundsystem just how I want it (and then melting the amp), encountering the inventor of the web on the tube, outing myself as a feminist and engaging with the sceptical community.

It was the year of spending a few short and sweet hours in the company of an amazing girl, who may be gone but is certainly not forgotten.

It was the year of other momentous stuff which definitely will not be detailed here.

Most of all though, it was a year of old friends and new friends, many of whom have been there for me this year well above and beyond the call of duty.  You know who you are.


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