2017: My Highlights

So, the year is ending. It is going the way of all things. Time continues to barrel inexorably onwards and we find ourselves another 365 days closer to the inevitable heat death of the Universe.

But enough about our impending doom. Instead it is time to look back at the year that has passed and arbitrarily list some of the stuff that’s happened. As is my tradition.

Well, I say tradition. I did it once two years ago. But nothing interesting happened to me in 2016. So I skipped it then. But it’s back now. And until I forget to do it again next year, I can still claim it’s tradition.

So, I have picked my 17 favourite highlights of 2017 (I chose the number 17 because it is the sum of the first 4 prime numbers) and I am listing them here in roughly chronological order along with a related point for development for each moment – a goal for 2018. Lest I become complacent and give in to nostalgia. As ever, life is about relentless self-improvement and there is no space for failure or staying still.

It is perhaps worth noting that for a lot of people 2017 wasn’t a great year. I wouldn’t want to gloss over this. Or for anyone to compare what is literally my highlights reel with their own difficult reality. Because I’ve had tough bits and boring bits too. But overall 2017 has been a good year for me. And I think it’s important to recognise that and celebrate good stuff – even more so when the world is confusing and troubled, as it is for many.

So without further ado, let’s get going.

I starred in my first music video. I got to walk around Southampton wearing a duvet and a pillow. A child wearing a onesie looked at me like I’d voted for Brexit. There was a lot of dancing and silliness and a good deal of my friends helped me out. In particular, Tom and Mikey, who shot and edited the video. They are wonderful.
In 2018: I will wear a Go Pro for the entirety of 2018 and release the footage, unedited, as a music video to All Star by Smash Mouth on repeat.

I became an employee. The church decided that they wanted to regularly pay me money to music stuff up. This has meant that I’ve finally started to meet my recommended daily allowance of meetings.
In 2018: I will work up the ranks at Central Hall eventually declaring myself Supreme Overlord. Then I will order everything that is purple to be re-coloured to glow-in-the-dark green, before abruptly resigning to focus on my burgeoning career as a Hugh Jackman impersonator.

I released an album. It only took me 5 years. It’s called Paper Boat and is still available on all reputable digital outlets (and Tidal) and as a physical CD. It’s an eclectic mix of Weird Al Yankovic and actually good. Don’t believe me? Read what people have said about it here. And then buy it here.
In 2018: I will release a collection of my greatest hits. Although, cos I’ve only done the one album, it will just be Paper Boat again. But twice as expensive.

I started writing letters. I decided to hand-write letters to anyone who requested one. They were, for the most part, full of barely-discernible nonsense and very tenuously-related anecdotes. The highlights included one to an unborn child and another to someone I’d never met who had not requested a letter. The emphasis here is on the word started. Because most people still haven’t received their letters.
In 2018: I might finish writing those letters.

I turned 27. This is terrifying. Like, I can only just about claim to still be in my mid-20s. Also, apparently, all the famous people die at 27.  So it’s probably a good thing that Songs of Praise stopped featuring me so often. Here are some facts about the number 27 that you might not have known: In base 10, 27 is the first composite number not divisible by any of its digits and it’s also the only positive integer that is 3 times the sum of its digits. Wild.
In 2018: I will turn 28.

 I made avocado and poached eggs on toast. For Emily’s birthday breakfast. Remarkably successful, if I say so myself. It was either that or buy a house. I made my choice and I’m sticking with it.
In 2018: I will hold off on buying anymore avocado products so that I might be able to afford a house deposit in 2019.

I played the Cantina Band music while a roomful of people in Star Wars costumes did the conga. No more words are needed.
In 2018: I will perform a medley of Star Wars music at the Royal Albert Hall to an audience of Porgs, while dancing wildly around the severed head of Jar Jar Binks.

I won the Solent Churches Football League Plate. I was actually ill for the final so I turned up late wearing a full kit but didn’t play a single minute. The boys won a tense penalty shootout after an aggressively dull 120 minute of Steve Bollon-less football. John Terry phoned me afterwards to offer his congratulations.
In 2018: I will take credit for Manchester City’s inevitable Premier League title having played no role in it whatsoever.

I got engaged. To Emily MacSorley. My girlfriend. I had bought the ring beforehand (from a very excitable Chinese lady called Fiona) and I wrote a song. But other than that, I had forgotten to plan anything. This buffoonery did help in throwing Emily off the scent somewhat, and in spite of it, I still managed to get the question out on top of a cliff over-looking the beach at sunset, just as the clouds parted. Fortunately, and entirely unsurprisingly, she said yes.
In 2018: I will actually get married. And hopefully sell the song to Ed Sheeran to pay for the wedding.

I took my first ever passable selfie. It was the day after the engagement and I must have been imbued with fresh strength from all the excitement. Both Emily and I looked great. The angle was perfect, the lighting sublime. The poses natural but elegant. I have not managed to replicate the feat since. I don’t understand which button to press and how to get all of me in the photo without dropping the phone. I remain convinced that everyone else must have one more finger than me, or else it couldn’t be possible.
In 2018: The better part of valour is discretion. There are some battles that it is not worth fighting. So, I will quit while I’m ahead. I am officially retiring from selfies.

I went to Australia. It was beautiful. The birds are colourful. The people are lovely. The trains are cheap. The beaches are soft and sandy. The waves are big. The animals are weird. The sports are ridiculous. They don’t have clouds. I would recommend it to anyone. It was even worth eating a rubber omelette for breakfast at 3am on the plane to get there.
In 2018: I suppose we’ll have to go somewhere on honeymoon. Let’s not set the bar too high though. Grimsby. We’ll go to Grimsby.

Someone requested a song that I had written to be played for their baptism. If I can be serious for a second, this was a genuinely special moment for me – that a song that I wrote had impacted someone enough for them to ask for it at such a significant life moment was amazing. Also, shout-out to the great team I was playing with that week. We only had one semi-serious injury caused by play wrestling. So, all-in-all a success I think.
In 2018: If I can remain serious for another second, I actually want to prioritise writing songs in 2018 – particularly worship songs. And then use them in church. So, you can ask me how that’s going.

I made joint purchases with a girl. It was with my ex-girlfriend (now fiancée) – the beautiful and talented Emily MacSorley. We bought a grey 2003 Ford Fusion for £700. But firstly, and more importantly, we bought the German card trading phenomenon that is Bohnanza. The Bean Game. Hours of fun await us as a married couple.
In 2018: We will buy a Fiat Punto and Lord of the Rings Monopoly

I helped start a church service. As a group of friends, we have been given the incredible opportunity to pioneer something new at church. It’s been exciting, stressful, demanding and inspiring. Highlights include the half of the festoon bulbs that still work, finally getting to sing the Arthur theme tune in church, and seeing people respond to Jesus.
In 2018: I will sing all the great children’s TV theme tunes in church – Mona the Vampire, Fairly Odd Parents, Brum.

I got a car serviced. Entirely of my own volition. It’s not even a legal requirement. Mental.
In 2018: I might get two cars serviced. Even just one cost quite a lot of money though, so we’ll probably pick our favourite, and that one will go to college.

I watched Star Wars in the cinema. Twice
In 2018: I will probably watch it again.

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