Another year has passed. And what have we learned?
2016 was a better year for me personally than 2015 (that wouldn't have been hard), but it didn't always feel like a good year for the world in general.
I wrote in my last post (I know, a year between posts is ridiculous... sorry!) that 2015 was my year of living uncertainly. So many things were hanging in the balance during 2015, and the general feel of the year was quite negative. This year had a more positive feel, though it still felt a little like treading water at times.
Moving forward felt slow last year, as so many moving parts were dependent upon each other. This year brought various chapters to a close.
In May, I moved for the third time in three years. For ten months after our break-up, Kyle and I had remained roommates. When we moved, I finally had my own space again, albeit with Kyle now filling the role of housemate. Many friends expressed concerns about this decision. For now it is working, as we (mostly) know about and can deal with each others’ quirks, and for the most part we live completely separate lives. Sometimes it almost feels like living alone, which is a good thing for me.
In August I was effectively made redundant from my day job, though that specific word was never used. The decision was quite out of the blue but I was happy enough to move on as I felt ready for the next opportunity. During my last week, The Sundays’ lyrics, ‘it’s the little souvenir of a terrible year’, were my recurring earworm. It felt like the last remnants of 2015 falling away. Like shedding the last layers of the chrysalis so I could finally see my way clear. It felt like closure.
In the meantime, my dSLR didn’t get a heavy workout in 2016, but there were ample opportunities for me to point it at myself and at other subjects.
In April I finally had the chance to catch up with Aer after close to ten years, visiting her in Manchester. It didn’t turn out to be the best timing for her due to unexpected work and family complications, but we had a good catch-up.
Aer encouraged me to shoot in her three-storey house while she went off to work. This included the cold, creepy basement where I took the self-portrait above. I think it was the only ‘proper’ self-portrait shoot I did during 2016.
I think it was my first visit to Manchester since 2000. My stay also gave me a chance to revisit the city, wandering its streets and the John Rylands Library with my camera.
In June I finally made good on a long-postponed trip to Kent and East Sussex with Phil Ivens, with Kyle tagging along. At least once a year Phil stays at a B&B in East Sussex, using that as a base to visit Dungeness and other places in the area. For at least five summers I had been hoping to visit, but timing and money always seemed to be an issue.
This year I committed to the break. I enjoyed tramping over the shingle to explore the derelict boats and fishermen’s shacks, despite the horrendous sunburn I got in the process. It was also nice to finally visit Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage. The only real dampener to the holiday was finding out the results of the Brexit referendum on our second last day.
Other travels during the year included:
- a day trip to Camberley to visit my friend, Floriana, though I didn’t take any photos;
- a day trip to Oxford with Stuart;
- an overnight visit to Birmingham for a night out with the girls, though I only took photos with my iPhone; and
- a day trip to Margate, Botany Bay and Broadstairs in Kent with Chris and Paulina.
I posted various iPhone photos from the day trips to Oxford and Kent, and my weeks in Manchester and East Sussex and Kent, to my Instagram account. I hope to post more photos from those travels here later this year. Thank you to all those who made my travels possible and wandered with me this year.
When not traipsing around the country, I made a point of capturing familiar haunts and new locales in this city I love, even if only with my iPhone. You can find many of these images on my Instagram account as well.
I also licensed a selection of my images to a television series that ran a couple of months ago on ITV. I'm not sure how many images, if any, actually made it onto the screen as set dressing. I'll let you know if they did once I've had a chance to watch the series!
In October my Mum had a health scare and it was hard to be so far away from family during that time. Thankfully open-heart surgery seems to have resolved the issue. I’m looking forward to catching up with her and Dad in June/July 2017 when they visit the UK and Ireland.
Unfortunately it was curtains for my favourite neighbourhood gasometer, Hornsey Gas Holder No. 1, which was finally dismantled in August. Above-ground work started in earnest as I was finishing up at my job, so I was able to capture workers dismantling it section by section. Hornsey Gas Holder No. 3 appears to have survived 2016, but I don’t believe it will still be in place by this time next year. I’ve since redirected my obsession toward other gasometers around town. Most recently those at Gas Holder Park along the Regent Canal in King’s Cross; and the listed gas holders by The Oval cricket ground in Kennington.
Other lowlights of the year included:
- regaining the rest of the weight I’d lost in 2010-2012 plus some;
- having far less alcohol-free days than I’d intended; and
- watching BBC coverage of the US presidential election into the wee hours of the morning.
At least I can reverse the first, and improve on the second in 2017. Unfortunately there isn’t much I can do to change the third. I’m more than a little trepidatious about how 2017 will unfold due to the outcome of that election and the Brexit referendum.
But there were quite a few highlights.
For instance, I love my new home. My blue-walled bedroom is my sanctuary. It has a quaint white mantelpiece, space for a king size bed and my workstation, and more than enough room to swing a cat (if you’re into that sort of thing). There's a proper lounge room with comfy couches and Netflix, and my prints hanging on the walls. I’m also more than a little pleased with the blue-tiled bathroom. No doubt others would call it kitsch, but I love it. Here’s hoping this stays my home for a few years.
I wrote more this year. I got into the habit of writing 750 words most days in the latter part of the year, albeit usually journal-type prose as a form of mental clearing. It's a habit I need to get back into from tomorrow. I also managed to write over 12,000 words for NaNoWriMo. Though I didn’t complete the 50,000 word challenge in November, I will come back to my novel soon.
Friends have been good to me again this year, even though I’m notorious for hiding away in my ‘bubble’, valuing my alone time.
So, all in all, 2016 didn’t completely suck for me, though it wasn’t my best year on record.
There were plenty of sad things happening in the world around me. This includes the deaths of musicians, writers and actors I’d grown up with and enjoyed the work of. This year felt particularly bad on that score, as many have pointed out. But I guess I have to brace myself for the possibility every coming year will strike a blow as hard as this one. It's just a fact that many of my favourites are getting to that age.
Speaking of age, 2017 marks another milestone birthday for me, which feels more than a little surreal. I had a brief glimmer of hope that I might visit Australia for a few weeks in April to mark the occasion. Unfortunately it’s looking unlikely given my current finances. I’m hoping to apply for British citizenship sometime in the coming year. I will also need to buy a new computer soon as, to quote Apple support, my laptop is ‘vintage’ now. It's definitely showing its age. So it’s looking like Melbourne and Tasmania will have to wait until 2018.
In some ways I feel I’ve gone backward with my photography since then, but sometimes other things have to come first. My intention for 2017 is to regain the focus and energy I had in 2007 and 2008. To get back to the things I love about photography.
I’m feeling positive about 2017. It feels like a reawakening, and well past time to get back in the saddle. My long-time new year’s resolution comes back around: make this year count.
If you’re reading this, I hope your 2017 is all you hope for, and thanks for stopping by.