So, how’s about that 2020, then? It’s been a LONG twelve months. I’m going to avoid the elephant doing tricks on a beach ball in the corner of my writing room and stick to events non-Covid.
Why am I even bothering to tell you this? Because 2020 is a year I want to file away and not always for the worst of reasons – though let’s start with that. Things can only get better.
New Year’s Eve 2019 brought a phone call from The Royal Sussex Hospital for Mr Fanning. Something about how his previous test results somehow ‘got lost’, and would he come in urgently as the doctors spotted precancerous cells in his throat. If ever there came a clue as to the year that would follow… He’s now on every kind of medicine and in a ‘wait and worry’ non-critical state, but the fear sits in my mind, waiting to pounce.
A week earlier another hospital had called to say they’d admitted my mother. But not to fret, she’d be fine. On 15 February, my world suffered a huge blow as she passed away. On the bright side, she got great palliative care once free of the undignified horrors inflicted by Russells Hall Hospital; something she would never have received if Covid moved faster.
My regular cancer check-ups continued, and the powers that be decided my likely benign brain tumour could stay as it is. I’m still not sure I’ve dealt with this.
Reading remained a constant pleasure. I devoured some great books in 2020. Jane Fallon always features on my year-end list. ‘Queen Bee’ was no exception. I got through it in days and revisited the story twice more. Kirsten Johnson’s ‘Guts’ turned into a gripping read and helped me sort out the mind of the lead character in my next novel. Richard Osman delighted me with ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ and if you haven’t already dipped your toe, can I recommend Lesley Manville’s Audible reading. A special mention for ‘The Wrong Knickers’ by Bryony Gordon and my absolute novel of the year (if not decade) ‘Big Girl, Small Town’ by Michelle Gallen.
I Zoomed my way into two writing workshops this year. One from sitcom supremo Bennett Arron and the other my God of Comedy Logan Murray. I made online friends with some brilliant writers from the latter, and although I’ve been incredibly lazy about staying in touch, I plan to do more on that front. Their talent leaves me in awe.
Rebuilding Alexandra Small finally came together after years of dithering under different titles and my putting writing off until my head was ready. I’m still not sure it is, but I need to move on. So many new ideas are clamouring for air. I might do a Kate Bush and stun you with two in one year in 2021. Though I probably won’t. Don’t hold your breath. It’s bad for you.
Standup took a backseat and is likely to remain thus. With Tier 4 looking set to settle awhile, pubs and clubs are shut, and as a novice, the online world provides nothing useful in the way of feedback. You can’t feel how well a joke lands in a virtual comedy show, given the audience are mostly other comics waiting to do their bit. I haven’t closed the door on this forever and am recording jokes for future use, but I know that if I revive things, it has to be a cold start. I must treat stand-up comedy like I’m a total newcomer with zero stage experience if I’m to get this right.
And that’s been my year. I’ve moved from Brighton to the Black Country, though not fully. I gained a garden and a dedicated writing room. All my books came out in new covers and (to my surprise) sold well despite their age. Coming soon ‘Rebuilding Alexandra Small’ and if you’re up for reading advance chapters and special offers, please join my mailing list.