We have arrived at the end of another year. Last year brought highs and lows, and 2022 has been no different. There’s been turmoil, and stress, and sadness, and laughter, and love.
Early 2022 brought with it the unpleasant experience of covid-19. The illness ripped through my household, and left us all feeling tired and weak. To me, it felt like having a heavy cold, and it did gradually dissipate, but I consider myself lucky. Others have not been so lucky, and I am grateful to have been vaccinated.
I also indulged in F1 2022 – the game – though it is a far cry from the edition I was previously very familiar with (F1 2009), and in the end, I can’t claim to have mastered this new, considerably more sophisticated game. My daughter subjected me to the jump-scares of Five Night’s at Freddy’s: Security Breach, for it was I that tackled the scary bits, and yes, they were scary (to me at least, I can be a right wuss). Being house-bound with covid (this was prior to the relaxing of the rules), it wasn’t like I had much else I could do. Elsewhere, early scandals were afflicting our political leaders…
It emerged that the Tories had held several parties and gatherings that breached their own lockdown rules, and that then-PM Boris Johnson had been involved on at least one occasion. These breaches came at a time when most Britons were restricted from doing very much of anything, including saying farewell to dying loved ones, yet our disgraceful then-PM refused to resign. It was the latest in a long line of hypocritical failings from the Conservatives, and it would get worse, but more on that later.
We had a lively moment one morning, when a pair of foxes appeared under our front window, and romped around for a bit. They were very curious, and absolutely adorable, but I am always conscious that they are wild animals, and they need to be treated with respect. Foxes are beautiful, but capable of being dangerous.
At the end of February, the world lurched closer to calamity. Under desperately false pretences, Russia invaded Ukraine. This unjustified attack has resulted in millions of people being displaced, and thousands of civilians killed, by Putin’s indiscriminate bombardments. Much of the rest of the world has sent aid to Ukraine, including weapons, but so far, no other nation has become directly involved, for fear of triggering a much larger, potentially nuclear war. One thing is clear, the Russians have gravely underestimated both the will of Ukraine to fight, and the support the rest of the world is willing to provide. The war is far from over, but swathes of captured territory have been retaken by Ukraine, and Russia’s military is in disarray.
Against the backdrop of the war, Formula 1 returned, though the Russian GP was gone, and Russian driver Nikita Mazepin was gone too. The season began in Bahrain, with a win for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, in an indication that Ferrari might be truly competitive. Time would tell…
As the year rumbled on, we had strange food (I mean, what is going on with those eggs?!), and we had a new tattoo, my fifth (so far):
It’s no secret that I love DuckTales. The 2017 reboot has been brilliant, and the show was cancelled well before it should have ended. Disney have a disappointing habit of ending good shows before their time, but I will always remember the glorious return of a classic show, thanks to the ink on my arm!
A new tattoo wasn’t my only form of showing off. For the first time, I went to a Comic-Con in London, with my wife and daughter, in the middle of the year:
For the first time in five years, I got to see some of my extended family, at a birthday party for one of my cousins, and her husband. It was quite amazing, and we danced, drank and were merry. The gathering of the clan is often quite feisty, and this was no exception. It was great to catch up with them, and by the end of the year, I’d done so again, but more on that a little later.
In the middle of the year, I had the unusual experience of attending a work event at a racecourse. My employers were seeking to generate some business, and my regional manager needed an extra hand, so I went along with him to the southwestern end of the M25, to a racecourse! Sandown Racecourse, near Esher, is quite beautiful, though it was a long day of standing around, and a verrrrrrrrrry long trip back down the M25 (gridlock can strike hard, even on Sundays). It was an experience, and potentially a feather in my cap, for being willing to put myself out there.
We lost a Star Trek legend in 2022. Nichelle Nichols, famous for bringing Lt. Uhura to life, passed away. She was a trail-blazer, for women and for black people, during the turbulent sixties, and leaves behind an incredible legacy. She will be forever missed.
We don’t do a lot of socialising outside of work, but sometimes, as a team, we will go places, and on one such occasion, we found ourselves at a place called Tara Thai, in Westcliff. I fear I will run out of superlatives to describe how wonderful, delicious, beautiful, and fantastic this restaurant was. The food was incredible. I cannot fault it, at all, and I would have no concerns about returning there. I have no idea if we will, but it would be great to do so.
Speaking of going back to places, I’d love to go back to the villa we stayed at in Menorca. The weather on this little Mediterranean island was gloriously hot and sunny (though, believe it or not, briefly matched by some scorching temperatures in Britain), the skies were a pristine blue, and having our own pool to jump into was simply wonderful.
As we moved out of the summer, and back into the start of a new school year, events of a political nature moved rapidly, with the incompetent incumbent Boris Johnson finally resigning, after a scandal involving an abusive MP, that Johnson had backed. His replacement, Liz Truss, had barely accepted the role from the Queen, when Queen Elizabeth II passed away. I will admit to feeling quite sad when the news broke, for whatever my misgivings over the Royal Family, the Queen had always been there, and it felt like she always would be.
Perhaps my sadness was brought on by a certain poignancy. 2022 marked ten years since my beloved Nan passed away, and twenty-five years since my Grandad passed away. I still get choked up, even now, when I think of them. They were both wonderful people, the best people, and I will never stop missing them.
The year also brought a different sort of emotional pain, due to the shitty behaviour of one person who shall remain nameless, towards someone I love. What motivates them to be cruel and callous, I don’t know, but whilst I may be prepared to forgive, that depends very much on them, and I will not forget.
2022 delivered something else too, a first for me. Last year, I set off on the road towards becoming a traditionally-published author, and in 2022, I completed that journey. The Awakening is now out there, and whilst it has hardly set the world alight in terms of sales, I am absolutely delighted that it’s out there. No matter what happens, I can call myself an author, and I am proud of that. My hope is to keep writing, get more stuff out there, and see what happens.
This path, this road to becoming a published author… it’s not been easy, but it also goes to prove that perseverance can pay off. It would have been easy to give up, to rest on my laurels, to leave it as a self-published piece, but the good people of Jumpmaster Press saw something that they were willing to nurture, and develop, and the end result is this. If you’re a budding author, and you feel disheartened, do not give up! There is always time, and there are always opportunities.
Well, I say that, but in some cases, I believe there won’t be, such as with England and football. Following yet another quarter-final exit of a major tournament, I have reached the conclusion that I could live to be in my nineties, and not see the England men’s team lift a single major trophy. It is not in our stars, but I accept that now. That particular dream is well and truly dead. Is that too pessimistic? Perhaps, but I prefer to see it as realistic.
As the year wound down, the weather became bitterly cold, to a level that we hadn’t seen in a while. The war in Ukraine raged on, though the Ukrainians had forced Russia back on many fronts. What Putin believed would be over in days or weeks is now an entrenched war, from which he might not be able to escape. The worry is, what will he do, if defeat looks inevitable?
On a more personal note, I wondered what I would make of 2023? As one year ended, I naturally considered what the next one would bring. There are quite a few things lined up, but whether everything pans out in the way I expect… well, we shall find out, won’t we? To all of you, I wish you a Happy New Year!