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January 1st 2009
Happy New Year! I hope you have a wonderful 2009, whoever and wherever you are. Unless you were banking on Wolves not getting promoted, or me being fired for petty theft.
As is traditional - this will be the fourth year in a row - I will look back upon 2008 in the form of this 'meme' (horrible word. I don't really know what it means):
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Played squash, worked the projector at church, took actuarial exams, failed an exam that counts (my only previous failure being STEP3), got Sky (just! Not actually watched it since leaving for holidays), went abroad by myself...
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
This time last year I mentioned giving up tea for Lent, which I achieved without any difficulty. For this year, my resolutions are pretty short term, but involve studying a lot more & praying a fair bit more too.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I always get this one wrong. I'm just going to say 'yes' and leave it at that.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
The parent of a housemate did.
5. What countries did you visit?
Germany - that was the going abroad by myself thing, since I was visiting Ant on his ship for a week. England, obviously... and Wales, for Becky & Adam's wedding. Oh, and Scotland, for a careers fair and to see James 'engaged' Lee.
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
New glasses. I've needed some for months. And a Premiership team to support - Wolves are within touching distance.
7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Becky & Adam's wedding, moving to number 23, failing CA3. Dates are June-sometime, Dec 1st, Dec 11th respectively.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Passing CTs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6.
9. What was your biggest failure?
CA3
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I gave myself food poisoning for the first time - that should be in my list of first-times above - and had one day off ill for a cold, if memory serves, but nothing bad.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I'm looking round my bedroom for inspiration... nothing springs immediately to mind. Some good DVD box sets, which I've very much enjoyed.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I've never really understood this one. As our top scorers, I'm going for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Chris Iwelumo. Oh, and me on the first couple of exam results days.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Usually my own.
14. Where did most of your money go?
The deposit for my new house! And we're renting, so it really shouldn't be this big.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My memory must be going, cos I can't think of anything. Maybe there was something in early February. Oh, and Matthew Perry's got a film out soon.
16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Old '67 by Elton John - curiously, this will remind me of remembering, as it were. I created a video commemorating my time in Number 67 (which is in the archive, not too long ago), and that was the music to it.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
Happier at home, less happy at work.
ii. thinner or fatter?
Thanks to squash and extended walking, I'll say thinner.
iii. richer or poorer?
Richer. I have an ISA and everything!
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Just a note that last year I said 'seeing Powly' - and it's scheduled for two days' time!! This time round, I'll say writing letters. That just came off the top of my head, but I reckon there's still a place for handwritten stuff in this whirlwind world.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Sitting in the cold at train stations. They should give us heaters.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Goodness knows.
22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Nope.
24. What was your favourite TV program?
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was great. I also loved Pushing Daisies, Jeeves and Wooster was pretty sweet, Spaced certainly has its moments... these are all boxsets I bought last year. I guess that tells its own tale about what's on TV these days, though Top Gear is still worth watching, and I usually try to see Match of the Day.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No. Hate is stupid.
26. What was the best book you read?
Simon is keen for me to write about this for his blog, and I've delayed partly because I can't think of my favourite. I've been reading quite a few books for the first time (unusual for me), and of those I would probably rate Northanger Abbey highest. It's been some time since I was really impressed with a book - even Danny Wallace's 'Friends Like These' wasn't up to his earlier standards. That said, William Wilberforce's biography was very good.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Counting Crows - I have Dave Lake to thank for that, really. I also got into Bruce Springsteen a bit last year, buying several of his albums.
28. What did you want and get?
A lovely new house, with two excellent housemates. For my birthday, lots of Jeeves and Wooster books from Simon. Which I should really have mentioned in the 'best book' bit above, as they are excellent.
29. What did you want and not get?
My targets were set pretty low coming into 2008, really - things ain't perfect right now, but I don't have too much to complain about when I consider it.
30. What was your favourite film of this year?
The Dark Knight was good, though I'm not sure it was any better than (the excellent) Batman Begins. I've got a feeling I said so at the time. Prince Caspian was a significant improvement on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but not one for the ages. In honesty, I haven't seen many films at the cinema this year... on Boxing Day there was Yes Man (loosely based on the book by Danny Wallace), which was pretty good but not amazing. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People improved as it went along, but was still not good. Hancock was OK to begin with, then got loads worse. Oh, and there was Get Smart, which I very much did enjoy.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old?
I turned 23, and we went for a carvery at work. I think it was the next day that Seth, Konni and I went for a curry, which was excellent.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
CA3! That and love. But I repeat myself from years past.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Confusedly.
34. What kept you sane?
The Lord, and my family at the other end of a phone.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I'm not proud about this, but Amanda Knox. Excepting her, there was Anne Hathaway. And Elizabeth Banks. For a brief period, Gwyneth Paltrow. I'll stop now.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Barack Obama's election, I guess. I'm about a third of the way through his second book, The Audacity of Hope (good title).
37. Who did you miss?
I'm gonna change that to 'whom' next year, I swear. I missed all the Uni guys, especially Ant when he went off to Germany. Also James, my former housemate who moved to Scotland.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
I joined home group in February, and there are some great people there: Rick, Jen, Jay, Becky, Olly, Caz, Steve, Rae (not a new person technically, as her parents are friends of the family, but it may as well have been new), Andy, Clare, Stu, Katy... think that's everyone. There's also my regular squash partner and former housemate, Konrad, and my new housemates Steve (also in home group) & Spence. Then there are various new folk at work.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008:
Oh hell, I don't know. Maybe that is the lesson. Or maybe it's bedtime and I'm trying too hard to be philosophical.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I've looked at love from both sides now
Both Side, Now - Joni Mitchell

January 4th 2009
On my way to work, I pass by a house that has a wardrobe outside. Yes, yes, it's one of those alfresco-furniture stories that are all too common on the interweb these days. Anyhow, the occupants of this house must be heady optimists, as they left a sign on the wardrobe saying 'Free to a good home'. OK, it's cute - you see, they're pretending it's like a puppy or something, you dig? - but neither door was actually on its hinges. So, basically, the former wardrobe owners thought that perhaps the folk in the highways and byways of Bristol wanted a slightly broken wardrobe they hadn't deemed fit for their own use.
Sadly, no one seemed to want it, especially after it had rained a few times. A broken wardrobe with loose doors is one thing, but a soaked broken wardrobe with soaked loose doors is quite another, yet still the optimistic fools left it out.
The situation got worse after a few more rainstorms, as clearly some Bristolian decided that they could do without a wardrobe, but a large chunk of sodden wood was just the ticket. Well, I assume that was the deal (no pun intended), as one of the doors (the one without the 'Free to a good home' sign) got pinched. Despite this, the wardrobe people decided to leave it out still, in the hopes that someone would come along with a penchant for broken wardrobes with only one door.
As I go to press, the wardrobe is as yet untaken - it's still yours, lucky reader, should you desire it - but the 'Free to a good home' sign has been pinched.
In other news, Powly was over here yesterday, so I showed him the sights and sounds of Bristol - it was excellent to see him again after over three years. Good times.

January 10th 2009

I am a man of multiple flaws (not unlike a tower block. That joke works better on the radio - please say it aloud, right now, to see if those around you fall about laughing - keep St. John's Ambulance Brigade on standby, just in case the hysteria gets too much) and I have discovered that one of them is being unobservant. More specifically, not noticing post boxes.
I know what you're going to say: "Don't do that to yourself, Colin. You're a good person, don't beat yourself up." But it's true; ask me this morning where my nearest post box was, and I wouldn't have been able to tell you. I'd have guessed 'somewhere near Waitrose' - my same guess as when I was wondering where my nearest cash machine was - but until this morning, when I had to send a form to Virgin, I couldn't have said for sure. I set off more in hope than expectation, and discovered a post box... at the end of my road. About one minute's walk away from my front door.
One off? No. In Coventry I was living in no. 67 for a year and a half before I realised that my nearest post box wasn't, in fact, on Earlsdon Street. It was a couple of minute's walk in a different direction - on a road I headed down most days. Perhaps this isn't the worst of my faults, but it's one that ain't going to go away any time soon.
Speaking of Virgin - did you spot that? - I didn't realise until today that it was Dicky Branson who came up with the 'Now That's What I Call Music' brand. The Times had an article on it, since it's the 25th anniversary of its inception. I have only owned one Now album - Now 39, purchased jointly with Simon - and they tend to be a bit rubbish these days. In fact, the article confirmed this: there has been a decisive move away from an eclectic mix, and towards girly pop. I don't know whether Branson still owns the brand - he probably sold it some time ago - but it's good to see testament to the only British entrepeneur.
In other news, I hung picture the other day. Banged the nail into the wall and everything. How manly am I?

January 12th 2009
Not long ago, Simon (see links page) 'tagged' me in a 'meme' concerning a Top 10 of... well, anything. He went for the top ten rules for reading, I believe, but was clear that we could choose whatever we wanted. I've noticed that I now own ten superhero films (throughout this post, I am using the term 'superhero' relatively loosely, to include comic book heroes such as Batman who in fact have no powers. Except, in his case, super-wealth) so I thought could make a Top 10 Superhero Films I've Seen. Which, interestingly, is not identically the same as the ten I own. Actually, by the time I get to the bottom of the list, I'm essentially just missing out the three or four rubbish ones I've seen.
1. Spider-Man 2
The team behind the Spider-Man films realised - at least until the third - that a superhero is nothing without the woman he loves. Indeed, the first film kicks off with Peter Parker informing the viewer that this is a story about a girl, and Spider-Man 2 largely focuses on the relationship between Parker and the girl he loves, Mary Jane Watson. Alongside this are the moral struggles of a super-hero on the edge, an excellent villain in the form of Doctor Octopus, and humour that is actually funny.
2. Batman Begins
Probably the best origins film, telling the transformation of Bruce Wayne into Batman as a believable, psychologically intriguing journey. The storyline gets a bit silly towards the end, but generally this is a comic book story told as if it could happen, and a stellar cast - Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman - support Christian Bale on top form.
3. The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger's Joker is absolutely brilliant, a manic tour de force of a villain and quite easily the best on this list. What puts this film below Batman Begins, in my opinion, is the fact that Batman's character development is sacrificed to make room for the Joker, not to mention Two-Face. Still an excellent film, although Maggie Gyllenhaal never quite gets the part of Rachel.
4. Spider-Man
Although it didn't reach the heights of its sequel, this raised the bar for character-driven superhero films, as well as catapulting Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire into the A-list.
5. Superman 2
Christopher Reeve is superb in the dual role of Superman and Clark Kent, and it is actually feasible that Kent's cover would not be blown. In this sequel, Superman is pitted against some high-calibre villains, and Lois Lane's discovery of his true identity is a neat plot.
6. Superman: The Movie
"You'll believe a man can fly". Very impressive effects for the time, and a good origins story that still has time for a dastardly Lex Luthor plot to be foiled. Yes, the changing-time thing was a little odd, and Lois Lane's poem is embarrassing, but a good film nonetheless.
7. The Incredibles
A clever cartoon about superheroes in a post-superhero world, which manages to be genuinely moving. Despite showcasing the trials of a modern world - litigation against botched superheroics, for example - this is a feelgood film that doesn't get too cynical for its own good.
8. Superman Returns
Set approximately after the end of Superman 2, this re-examination of Superman borrows heavily from Superman: The Movie but manages to maintain its own uniqueness. There are some stunning visual shots, such as a bullet crumpling on hitting Superman's eye, and the contrast of human with superhuman is very well done. Although there is a tendency to get a bit silly, this is by and large an excellent addition to the Superman canon.
9. Batman
The Batman franchise, up until Batman Begins, is remembered for the ludicrous Biffs and Pows of the 60s, and a series of disappointing films with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Val Kilmer. However, this first attempt, starring Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, is good enough without knocking you off your feet. Nicholson stands very much in Ledger's shadow now, but did a pretty good job in his own right.
10. Fantastic 4
A ridiculous film, with a villain called Victor Von Doom, for goodness' sake. But, despite being a piece of fluff, it's an enjoyable ride with Ioan Gruffudd committing admirably as Captain Fantastic.

January 17th 2009
Before I go (belatedly) to bed, I'll catch up on something that's doing the rounds: uploading the fourth photo from your fourth photo album. I'm guessing this one originated on 4th April or something, or maybe it's for unhappy Chinese people. No matter, the picture you're getting is this:
Look! A kite!
Taken at Ant's place sometime near his birthday in second year, I believe, this formed part of a set of photos we liked to call comprehensive evidence of our kite-flying. Sadly, we spent about half an hour in the freezing cold trying to get the string untangled, so this rather brilliant shot was taken from a metre below the kite, which itself was being held about 1.5m off the ground. You win some.

January 18th 2009
A plea for help. My Firefox is being silly, and doing mirror writing when I'm trying to enter a URL... actually, it's not right now, but it was and I don't know why. I tried Googling (that wasn't easy) and it looks like a few folk have had the problem, but no one has a solution so far. And, indeed, those who had the problem report that AVG anti-virus software doesn't pick it up, and that it comes and goes. Any ideas, folk?
If it's any help, I had just installed an update to Java - or so I thought. It looked standard enough, but maybe that was their way in? I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't understand computer hackers and I think they're right down there with accident compensation lawyers as the lowest of the low.

January 28th 2009
When I was a kid, one of the highlights of my year was going to Molineux to see Wolves play, and it was my birthday treat for several years in a row. I still maintain that the only view that has ever left me awestruck is the one you get climbing the stairs into the stadium, as the gold and black seats come into view all around. Beautiful.
For one reason or another, I hadn't been to Molineux for several years until last weekend; not since we were a Premiership team. So I had to rectify that with an FA Cup fixture against Middlesborough, which allowed me to meet up with Steve Carey (Boro fan) as well as seeing a Premiership team beat us 2-1. Not the best homecoming, but the league is certainly our priority this year - we're top, but dropping points like they're butter-covered hot cakes - so I wasn't too disappointed. I also got the opportunity to visit the Wolves club shop - both club shops, indeed - and buy a few Wolves-related items. I've cut back since my younger days, when anything with a Wolves logo on it excited me a great deal, but I still took home a mug, tie, cuff links, football shirt and hat.
Being in the Midlands area meant I could stay over at Ant's, and see plenty of church folk as well as Rich, which was really nice. Even if Ant and I did get splashed horribly by a passing car... I'm not sure I appreciated just how wet you can get that way. Turns out; very.
In other news, I had the odd experience of seeing someone from Uni on the train yesterday, since she still lives in Coventry, I think, and has no business travelling on the small two-carriage between Bristol Temple Meads and Redland. I had to get off, so had no time to say hi, but it was strange to see someone I recognised in a situation completely removed from them in my mind. I also saw Kate from church walk past me today, but that's less surprising, since she lives in Bristol and I was in Bristol city centre...

January 30th 2009
Y'know, I was so pleased with myself for not forgetting to pack my toothbrush when I went to Ant's the other day. I felt I'd finally got to the point in my existence where I can remember it on a regular basis, and it was grand. Sadly, however, it seems I've picked up a new - though not entirely different - bad habit; that of leaving my teethbrush at people's houses. Over New Year I left one at Rich's, and this time I left both brush and paste in Ant's bathroom... at the rate I'm getting through them, I'll be bankrupt in months.
Speaking of Ant, he has brought to my attention the very sad fact that kids have no concept of 12 any more (we'll gloss over his own attempts at 7 x 12). Ever since the shilling and the foot went out of regulation circulation (for those readers who have joined us by time machine, we don't use 12d in a shilling any more, and 12 inches to a foot has been overtaken by the metric system) a dozen hasn't held the same cache it once did, but apparently things have got worse. Or, for our American cousins, gotten badder. Ant tells me that eggs are now being sold in boxes of 10.
Well, I'm sure you'll agree that a line has been crossed - they're so far over the line, they can't even see the line! The line is a dot to them! - and I want you to all write to your local hen coops in protest. This does, however, shed some light on the Wolves fan last Saturday who, after a brutal tackle from behind by the Wolves midfielder on a passing Middlesborough player, sagely commented "It was five of one and half a dozen of the other."
In other news, you'll be pleased to know I can add Sylvester Stallone to my list of 'actors who appear in five or more films I own' - Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky Balboa and, now, Escape to Victory.

what was I listening to?
Unplugged - Bob Dylan
what was I reading?
The Audacity of Hope - Barack Obama
what was I watching?
Seabiscuit
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