2020: My Highlights
So, 2020 eh?
It is my tradition to compile a list of the highlights of my year. It goes without saying that this year has been…different. However, as a couple of introverts without children, who had just acquired a kitten and Disney+, it has to be said that 2020 was relatively kind to us.
But I am keenly aware that for many it was intensely difficult, and there were far fewer highlights than usual. It’s beyond my own modest talents to speak to the tragedies and hardships of this year, but I what I have I give to you: my own particular brand of nonsense.
I would usually have picked 20 highlights, as 20 is the basis for vigesimal number systems, as well as the number of moves required to optimally solve a Rubik’s Cube in the worst case. More importantly of course, +20 is the code for international direct dial phone calls to Egypt and the number of questions in the game Twenty Questions.
However, none of that matters as no-one has been outside enough this year to experience 20 separate highlights, least of all me. Don’t be ridiculous. So I’m just going to write as many as I can think of and that will be fine. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we must be kind to ourselves.
I would also usually accompany each highlight with a corresponding goal for the next year. However, making any plans for 2021 is too much nonsense even for me. So instead I’ve just chosen some words that I like the sound of. I hope you enjoy them.
We acquired a cat. Now, I was under no illusion that when I married Emily, the day would come when we would have to get a cat. In fact, I’m surprised she went as long as she did with just me for company before suddenly deciding that there was nothing to be done except to drive to Hackney and buy a tiny ginger kitten without delay. The only real surprise is how much I have enjoyed cat ownership. He is called Noah and he is handsome, affectionate and cheeky. So far he has brought in one tiny mouse, a corn-on-the-cob, a half-eaten six-inch sub, and a clear plastic bag.
A nice word: Mellifluous
I released two more musics. Having released two tracks with Homegrown Worship last year, I decided to stay consistent and release another two this year. It was a year for consolidation at best. I was pleased with how they sounded, and both of them have actually been played on the radio. Thanks for listening!
A nice word: Contraband
I was UCB2 Artist of the Week. After the release of Yesterday’s Meal, I was invited to be featured as the artist of the week on UCB2 Radio. Which was nice. I recorded some things about myself and got mocked for not being able to tie up a fajita. And they played my song everyday of the week. Even Thursday.
A nice word: Scholarly
I turned 30. Now, 30 is a big one, whichever way you look at it. Leaving a whole decade behind. In my thirties I will celebrate my 10-year wedding anniversary, have kids, and probably open a dinosaur-themed island getaway off the west coast of Africa. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that. It was particularly weird of course, having to celebrate without seeing most of my friends and family. But I will have the rest of my thirties to spend with them. Likely off the west coast of Africa.
A nice word: Existential
I put on two livestream gigs. In lieu of a 30th birthday party, I arranged my first ever livestream gig from the comfort of my own office. It was chaotic and lovely. Highlights included multiple appearances from Noah, impromptu versions of Auld Lang Syne and the Wallace and Gromit theme tune, and the renaming of my hit single, Dancing Shoes (now known as, among other things, Night Dance and In the Night Garden Shoes). Later on I arranged All-Request Friday, where you guys chose the songs. Ambitious and foolhardy for sure (as evidenced by one of the worst renditions of Elton John’s Your Song that you will ever hear) but no less fun.
A nice word: Cacophony
I released this video into the world. As you must know by now, I love to create things that have no reason to exist. An Avengers/Les Misérables mash-up is slap bang in the middle of that category. I have no more words to say. Just watch it.
A nice word: Moribund
I became a Communications Manager. Given that I’m 30 now, I felt like I needed a title that sounded much duller, more professional, and less confusing to anyone outside of the church. On top of my role as Worship Director, I am now in charge of all the church’s social media accounts, mailouts, designs and video notices. Apparently. My favourite moment was probably scripting this.
A nice word: Bountiful
Liverpool FC won the Premier League. For the first time in 30 years. I was beginning to think that it might have something to do with my presence on earth. And I was also genuinely beginning to think that the world was conspiring against us. But not even COVID-19 could stop Jurgen Klopp and the lads. Such lads. I can’t wait to warmly shake Trent Alexander-Arnold’s hand with both of my hands.
A nice word: Unscrupulous
I got paid by PRS. They are the guys who pay songwriters what they’re due when their songs get used. So that’s nice. This might have happened years ago, but I discovered that I hadn’t registered my songs properly in the first place. With the £30 I earned I think I will buy an entire duck.
A nice word: Perspicacious
I took part in the UK Blessing. If you’re not aware of what that is, watch it here. It was a real pleasure to help out my good personal friend, Tim Hughes. And genuinely – what an incredible honour to be involved in something of that magnitude that has had the impact that it did. Even if they did accidentally replace some of my footage with more of Martin Smith.
A nice word: Bilious
I helped to put this video together. In terms of its scope and reach, it does pale somewhat in comparison to the above. But working with the whole worship team from church – my friends and family – was deeply meaningful for me personally.
It has been an odd and difficult year for church and those involved in worship (as it has been for all of us, of course) and I have been so incredibly blessed by the way the team that I lead has stepped up, gotten involved and given of their time, talents and efforts to continue to lead our community (and beyond) into worship as best they can. The restrictions of lockdown have, ironically, unlocked new levels of creativity in so many ways. While I long to be able to sing and worship together in-person again, I have also enjoyed the challenge and opportunities that these restrictions have afforded us. For me this video represents the culmination – the peak – of these efforts.
A nice word: Collateral
I cycled to work. A brief call-back to last year’s list when I announced that I had started cycling, and planned to cycle to work at least once. Well, 2020 almost put paid to that, as cycling from the bedroom to my office would stretch even my tolerance for futility. But, as promised, I did once cycle to work. Unscathed. You’re welcome, environment. We won’t mention the second time I tried to do it and got a puncture 5 minutes down the road.
A nice word: Frippery
I scored a goal. Now, most people are astonished to find out that I play football at all, so I’ll give you a moment to get over that shock. To give you some context, I had never before scored a goal in a competitive fixture, outside of 5-a-side. Not throughout my stint as captain of my primary school team, nor during my bit-part role in my secondary school side. Not for the 4 years I’ve been playing for New Community FC. I’ve always been a defender – and not one of the goal-scoring mould like Virgil van Dijk or Sami Hyypia. More like Stephane Henchoz or Jamie Carragher.
But this year, my time finally came. We were on the counter-attack and I had made a late run from right-back. Steve Bollon was carrying the ball on the left, and cut it back to me. I hit first-time with my right foot, from just inside the 18-yard box. Sweet as a nut. Knew it was going in the moment I touched it. Top bins. Thriker. Keeper never had a chance. I must have a foot like a traction engine. We went on to win the game on penalties eventually, after an eventful 90 minutes, with Jake Powney pulling off some massive saves to put us through to the next round.
A nice word: Scintillating
I raised money for a new EP. I know I said making plans for 2021 was nonsense, but it would be terribly off-brand of me if I were to eschew any opportunity to involve myself in nonsense of any kind. So I’ve planned to release an EP. And in order to do that, I needed to raise some funds to pay for all the costs. I’d forgotten how terrifying and vulnerable that is, and quite frankly, I hated doing it. But it really is incredible to realise that there are so many of you out there willing – and even excited – to invest in me and my music. I can’t wait to share it with you when it’s ready.
A nice word: Peripheral
I got to watch a new Star Wars show once a week. Not for the whole year obviously. Not even Jon Favreau is that generous. But let me tell you, I have not for a long time experienced such child-like joy as when watching The Mandalorian early on a Saturday morning – curled up under a blanket with my cheerios – barely believing my eyes as Slave I soars across the screen. Obviously, because it’s 2020 and I’m 30, this is now followed by in-depth conversations with friends about which Enneagram numbers the characters are.
A nice word: Maclunkey