Around about this time last year, I decided to scratch a personal itch – and that does indeed sound like something best discussed with a doctor.
2018 was to be different. It would be my year of saying yes.
I reckoned without my Valentine’s Day discovery. Chances are, I’m not the first to find something untoward about a scrotum whilst in the Premier Inn, Warrington. It kicked off a roller-coaster month confirming how important it is to defend the NHS. Two weeks after calling my GP and trying to describe my malformed testes, someone wheeled me into an operating theatre. Three weeks later, I experienced my first session of chemotherapy. Nine months later, I’m in recovery. And – frankly – boring the arse off anyone who’ll listen about how important it is to self examine. Be it breasts or balls, you’ll save yourself an awful lot of nastiness by spending a few minutes every few weeks checking for lumps, bumps and unwelcome hardness.
I reckoned without finding myself unable to write another word of a book I hoped to see on many a Christmas wish list by now. I’d managed a first draft – enough to elicit a decent structural edit, but that was where I stopped. Three or four attempts to resurrect the flow failed, but I know I’m not done with the story. The focus has changed. It feels darker and that calls for a different approach. 2019 will be my year of writing. ‘The Toast of Brighton’ will appear.
I reckoned without Jill Edwards and a bunch of people I now consider friends. Twelve stand-up comedy classes opened my eyes to a whole new world. Standing on stage in front of over 200 people was a rush. When they laughed … and even clapped … it felt incredible to talk about Stourbridge, my mother and feeling like the wide-headed square peg in a hipster round hole. After much hesitation, I signed up up for Jill’s ‘advanced workshops’. I’ve met some wonderful people. If you ever think of doing this, don’t think twice.
I reckoned without falling back in love with New York. After years of doing a job that involved too much travel, I decided to avoid airports. The odd trip home to Amsterdam, sure, but that would be it. And then this year, Mr Fanning suggested we bite the bullet and fly to New York. I’d forgotten how much I love the place. How the atmosphere is so very different to that in any European city. People don’t stare only at smart phones. They walk and talk. The streets are dirty enough to feel real. It makes no concession to tourists. Even in these troubled times of Trump, New York radiates hope. Ten years ago, I’d pack a bag and move there.