It’s Christmas! Remember 2019? The worst year ever. Putting politics to one side, it was one of those years that took away too many beloved famous faces. On 31 December 2019, many breathed a sigh of relief and looked forward to something better.
2020 can’t be any worse, we said.
And then it was.
Even if this has been a tough year, I’m trying to focus on the good stuff to come out of it, and about to spend my first Christmas with stairs. I grew up in a bungalow (yet another thing that made me different and subject to name calling at school – kids are so good at finding cracks in our foundation through which to drip poison). I scarpered to my own life aged 19 and ever since, have lived in flats (although I often call them apartments, the word sounds fancier). After losing my mother earlier this year, we’re trapped by lockdown in the house we occupied for the summer. After six months, the place looks less like it belongs to an old lady with a hefty QVC habit, but there are still enough loose covers and silk flowers to sink any kind of post-Brexit fishing trawler.
Christmas is getting out of hand
Mr Fanning commented on how I appeared to be ‘more into Christmas than usual’ this time around. I gave it some thought. I suppose I want to grab any aspect of normal going. If that means turning back the clock to a time when the cold, damp closing weeks of the year featured a decorated tree and a tin of Cadbury’s Roses, so be it. I fear I’ve gone overboard on the presents. Somehow it got out of hand. I started with small things, then bought more small things, one big thing and then another, then a load of medium-sized bits of fabulosity. Stashed at the back of cupboards in a three-bedroom house, it didn’t look much. Entombed in wrapping paper and gathered under said tree, there’s an Imelda Marcos shoe fetish vibe.
Actual writing happened this year. Admittedly, on and off, as I found new ways to distract myself from the job in hand. I’m ending the year with a fifteenth draft of ‘Rebuilding Alexandra Small’ – the first where the story feels true to what I wanted to say. It needs a final check before sending it to the outside world for another mauling and publication. I’ve also revamped ‘Five Gold Rings’ (adding a lockdown story) and seen the collection appear in paperback for the first time. My back catalogue almost all got new covers and new editions. ‘The Armchair Bride’ snuck back into the few bookstores open and back onto websites. I’m ready to resume my stint of story telling.
Comedy took a natural backseat, though thanks to a couple of wonderful online workshops – notably one run by the ever brilliant Logan Murray – I connected with some brilliant comics and writers. I’m hoping 2021 sees me forge stronger ties with these new faces. The experience made me think long and hard about standup. Comedy takes so much time to write – even a short ten-minute set. With clubs and pubs shuttered, there’s little chance to work on material. Without audience feedback, standup dies, the words become a bunch of ideas waiting to be tested. Better comics are already waiting to retake their spots on stage. If I take this back up, my stage return won’t be next year.
So… on to 2021.