January 16th 2020
Right. You know the drill. Here we go.
1. What did you do in 2019 that you'd never done before?
I forgot to keep a list this year, so the only things I can think of (that aren't covered in question 21) are buying (and using) a slow cooker, and trying fish curry. It was surprisingly pleasant. At the age of 34, it's time to stop trying new things, right? Oh, wait. I voted Green. That was new. I didn't care for it.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any last year, and I'm not making any this year. Take that. But, if all goes well, I will have a crossword published this year that features the phrase "New Year's resolution" in one of the clues, so that's not nothing.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
You know it.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
It's been a very long time since I've been to a funeral. Something to look forward to in my later years, I guess.
5. What countries did you visit?
Scotland, a lot, for work - although I snuck in a couple of evenings at the Edinburgh Fringe again, which was fun and varied. Also Wales, with my brother and some of his friends - actually, we stayed in England but made the hop across the border to visit Hay on Wye, where I exhausted my interest in the town's book shops in about the time it took Simon to peruse one shelf. Fortunately one book shop had a cinema that Will & I could escape to, in order to watch Stan & Ollie.
6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
Last year apparently I said I wanted Funko Pops from The Office, so I got that wish in 2019. This year I'd love to stage a play (or, I suppose, "have a director's credit", if I need to phrase the answer in line with the question). Reading through the script with my drama group tonight, so let's hope that goes well!
7. What dates from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Some big moments in 2019, several of them involving football: watching Stenhousemuir with my parents; seeing Wolves knock Manchester United out in the FA Cup quarter-final with my friend Rich; sitting with the Watford fans as they came from behind to knock Wolves out in the semi-finals. Other favourite memories from the year include hosting a Taskmaster day; doing a read-through of the first draft of my play with improv friends; and performing with my improv group in three "Scratchpad" evenings. Christmas (December 25th - see, etched) was also great and will live long in the memory.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I'll pick two: I had my best finish in the Times Crossword Championship, coming in 8th, and I got 98% in the first module of my maths masters. Returning to studying maths after 12 years, it was nice to know I can still do it. Actually, I'll chuck in two more time-related ones, because why not? They're unimpressive enough that you won't think I'm boasting. I did the Times crossword in less than 5 minutes for the first time (twice, now: 3m 52s and 4m 58s) and I ran 5km in less than 25 minutes.
9. What was your biggest failure?
My hair? Can I say my hair? It's getting less.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just the usual colds and back pains. Every time I get up to running 10km, I injure myself shortly afterwards, so - while it was nice to get up to that distance again after the bad back injury a couple of years ago - it's very frustrating. Even this morning I had to stop because my right knee was in pain, which is new - usually my left leg is the problem. Progress? Oh, and my feet hurt a bit from walking the (majority of the) Cotswold Way with Dad and friends, but that was great fun so I don't mind a bit of a limp.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
2019 was the year I finally bought a new laptop, as my old one had been on its last legs for some time and routinely took 10 minutes to load properly. The new one is much better. I also bought myself a replacement mobile phone, having beaten up the previous one (same model), but have yet to take it out of the box. So hopefully it's good.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Rob & Kari got married; Steve & Laura got pregnant and have basically promised to name their child Colin. My parents were very much celebrated in a lovely party to mark their farewell from Chiselborough on Dad's retirement. Of course, I've reserved most of my celebration for Wolves in 2019, as we finished seventh in the Premier League and are through to the Europa League knock-out rounds.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
14. Where did most of your money go?
Paying off my mortgage.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Improv! You'll be bored of me talking about this by now, but what I've discovered this year is that I love being on stage, with friends, making stuff up. The EscaPROV shows - particularly the last one, which we were all in - as well as a Theatre Throwdown and some course showcases have been highlights of the year and have made me nervous / excited. Not everything has gone brilliantly - we're all still learning - but it has mostly been great.
16. What song will always remind you of 2019?
Hotel California by the Eagles, as I had the great pleasure of seeing them live in 2019 - along with Richard, Martin, Simon, Mum & Dad. It was my Mum's first ever gig, and a nice bookend given that my first gig was seeing an Eagles tribute band (Talon) with my Dad.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
Well, it's not been a great a week, but mostly happier. 2018 was a pretty tough year, all told, and 2019 was better.
ii. thinner or fatter?
Thinner. Just about. Despite the vast quantities of chocolate I've been eating since Christmas.
iii. richer or poorer?
Richer. That's what you get for sidestepping Woodford, baby.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Over the last year or two I've had some great conversations about my faith - including such divergent topics as creation, evolution, and why I believe that Christians should only be in relationships with other Christians - but I've not done that as much recently, and I should do it more. Glorious things can happen.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Arguing about Brexit.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
After the triumph - that's right, I'm calling it - of the Christmas BBQ I hosted in 2019, I'm not sure what Christmas 2020 holds in store. I loved hosting for my parents, brother, and brother's cat, but I have no idea what the new Thomas family Christmas looks like (although I suspect the BBQ might be a one-off). Simon's threatening a vegetarian Christmas, so maybe that.
21. What have you achieved from your '40 by 40' list?
In 2019 I achieved the following:
- Watched Stenhousemuir F.C.
- Karaoke (Meat Loaf's classic Two Out of Three Ain't Bad)
- Paid off my mortgage
- Saw the Eagles live
- Persuaded Simon to give up tea for Lent
- Hosted a Christmas BBQ
- Finished 9 of the BBC's Big Read list
- Visited 11 of the parish churches in Bristol & Avon
22. Did you fall in love in 2019?
Yes. With Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore.
23. Which University friends did you see?
A new question! Sort of. I've been answering this question in a different answer every year for the last few, but having realised - rather belatedly - that the quiz was missing a Q23, this now has a place of its own. And what a year for it, as I've broken my record of recent times with a massive 22: Andy, Ant, Charissa, Dom, Ellie, Guy, James, Jason T, Jason Y, Jen, Jez, John, Josh, Larry, Matt, Rich, Rob, Sinead, Sophie, Steve, Stu & Tom.
24. What was your favourite TV program?
My obsession with Taskmaster, which took hold in late 2018, continued to grip me in 2019, and I'm pleased to say I passed the mania on to Simon. I've also enjoyed Gotham (I'm on the final series), Dead to Me, Selfie and a bunch of old favourites. The Gavin & Stacey Christmas special was a wonderful return, too.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Louisa May Alcott.
26. What was the best book you read?
I finally finished Anthony Seldon's book on Gordon Brown! Not exactly gripping, I guess, but it was still very good. Noughts & Crosses was excellent. Was Far From the Madding Crowd in 2019? If so, that was unexpectedly hilarious.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
2019 was the year where I finally started to get Tom Waits, listening to his (original) version of Downtown Train over and over. Beautiful. My favourite album of the year - and decade - was Taylor Swift's Lover, but I'm not sure that counts as a discovery.
28. What did you want and get?
I got another Listener crossword published, and this was has seems to have been very well received by the lovely people who sent me letters. Hopeful of getting into the top ten favourite ones of the year, which will be announced in March. I also wanted turkey burgers & turkey sausages for the Christmas BBQ, which were surprisingly hard to track down but I eventually managed, driving across Bristol in the week before Christmas to pick them up from a Sainsbury's car park. And I got the general election I was hoping for, solely because I love staying up all night blogging about it here.
29. What did you want and not get?
A trip to the FA Cup final with Wolves. Football is beautiful and cruel.
30. What was your favourite film of this year?
You've seen the Coddies already - if you haven't, they're in the archive - but the two other films I saw for the first time in 2019 and particularly enjoyed were Adrift and The Way, Way Back.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old?
34, and my improv group were here for a rehearsal. Fernando made canneloni, Mills made a crossword cake (!) and a great time was had by all. After that I watched a Wolves Europa League match that I'd recorded while the others were there. Simon bought be a great book a Wolves shirts over the years, which inspired me to dig out my old ones and realise I had a full XI worth of them now.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?
I grew out my beard! After years of mostly goatee, I committed to the full beard and I have to say I'm very happy with how it's turned out. Requires some care when trimming, but I'm prepared to put in the hard yards.
34. What kept you sane?
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Morena Baccarin & Karen Gillan.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Brexit, and my continuing arguments with anyone who won't accept the referendum result.
37. Whom did you miss?
It was sad that Nick & Karen left the drama group, as they're both great people and very talented actors.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
It's gonna be improv again - assuming I've not got my courses mixed up (very possible), I had the pleasure of getting to know Mills, Ed, Emma, Rachel, Tim, Katie and several others in 2019.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019:
I'm not a good dramatic actor. I'm sticking to comedy from now on.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
You leave them laughing when you go / And if you care, don't let them know / Don't give yourself away
Both Sides, Now - Joni Mitchell
|what am I listening to?
X&Y - Coldplay
|what am I reading?
Batman Year One - Frank Miller
|what am I watching?