Firstly, since I know that most people skim read, thank you to all my wonderful friends, family and colleagues - you're all amazing (Ruth and Martha most of all). 2018 has been a hell of a tough year for a lot of people - there's certainly been a strong background feeling of impending doom that hasn’t made things easy.
This year has had some absolutely highs - the birth of my niece, Martha making (and Ruth and I InDesign-ing) a cookbook, Ruth getting a new job, holidays with friends and family, so much snow, making beer and kombucha and sourdough regularly, hosting a family Solar Can exhibition, watching Martha enjoy a mad busy life of guinea pigs and parties and activities and Brownies and sleepovers, volunteering as bar organiser for the school PSA, volunteering for Hidden Door, camping (especially at Underneath The Stars), hiring my biggest van ever to help friends move, my first international stag doo and an Easter holiday cancellation with a surprise last minute replan!
I have no words to describe how grateful I am for our friendships, being able to afford to do things, for the (sometimes fragile) health that we have, and for all of the experiences that we've had this year.
There have been some downers - it’s important not to dwell, but also important not to forget. My job means that I can't talk about local, national or international politics much, but the world's political environments have had a big impact on us this year. I’m grateful to everyone who’s out there fighting for what’s right and standing up to crappy behaviour. More than politics, the death of Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit hit me hard. I saw Frightened Rabbit play in March and it was a tough gig to watch - I loved it as always but it was clear from the song intros that it had been a hard tour for Scott to perform. The awful news of his death was a shock, and I feel so sad for his bandmates, family and friends... and also in total awe of the strength and dignity they've dealt with this year with. The message of making tiny changes will be one I keep trying to fulfill and to spread. Thank you Scott and Frightened Rabbit and to everyone who is out there risking it all to bring culture and art and music and literature to the world.
I also had a tonne of stress going on about my job (not so much the work, just whether I’d have a job) resulting in some big efforts that didn’t quite play off as hoped but thankfully everything is sorted now (pending paperwork). Work has also definitely had it’s good points: I’ve been involved in some great work with some great people. (And I’ve been to some great out-of-work events with colleagues, including an amazing dance show!) The digital meetups that we’ve organised have gone down well. I’ve got an amazing team at work. I’ve learned a lot this year - I guess that I never really reflect on how much I've learned in a year, but I definitely know more now than this time last year. Most importantly I took part in Mental Health First Aid Training, and it's something that I'm going to be more involved in at work next year (much love to the Scottish Government for providing this). I've also been on a bunch of (sometimes grueling) interview panels, helping recruit some great new colleagues. I travelled less with work and attended fewer events but I still feel that I learned a lot and got a lot to contribute back to my work. We had a spate of leaving doos which was just as fun and awful as always - thank you to all ex-colleagues, you were fab! I’ve got lots to get my teeth stuck in to for 2019 - genuinely excited for the new year at work.
Reflecting back on the year, I feel older but when I check myself in the mirror I’m looking pretty much as I always do (although with a few more telling traits from my lineage!). Perhaps more handsome?
To close here are some lists of my year - who doesn’t love a list?
- Frightened Rabbit
- Underneath The Stars
- Hidden Door
- Tide Lines
- Belle and Sebastian
- Puddles Pity Party
Not my only books but my favourite books of the year.
- Ada Palmer - Too Like The Lightning
- J.K. Rowling - The Cursed Child (and re-reading the whole HP series)
I am immensely lucky to have travelled so much in my life, and especially to have been to some amazing places over the past year - here are some places where you’ll generally find a happy Jono.
- Berlin (especially at night, at Markthalle Neun)
- West Coast beaches
- In our tent in the rain
- In our car, on a road trip, listening to audiobooks
- Watching thunderstorms
- Pulpit Rock in Oban
- Mhor 84
- Gosh! Comics in London
- NDSM in Amsterdam
- Cul Mor near Ullapool
- Edinburgh Castle Esplanade
- Premier Inns
Top Films & TV
I’ve watched less TV than ever before in my life and significantly fewer films. (I personally think the quality of films on Netflix and Amazon Prime in the UK is very poor compared to what’s available internationally but I also think I’ve just been a bit busier with less time to relax with a good film. Hopefully 2019 will be a year of more good movies and cinema trips!)
- Black Panther
- Deadpool 2
- The Punisher (Series)
- Happy! (Series)
- Ready Player One
- Jessica Jones (Series 2)
- I Kill Giants
- The Final Table (Series)
I tried to up the quality of what I was investing my time in but despite lots of recommendations the worst film I’ve watched this year was probably Warcraft (but I honestly thought Jack Reacher Never Look Back, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Cloverfield Paradox and Isle of Dogs were in the running too!)
I’ve tried to listen to a broader range of stuff this year... but when I checked back against last year 6 of my top albums were in last year’s top list too (obviously from keeping stuff on repeat to kill distractions at work). D’oh! Not to worry - still a great selection.
- Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer
I listened to this album to find out what all the chat was about it and absolutely love it - amazing lyrics and really well crafted. The video is a true sci-fi work of art.
- Tide Lines - Dreams We Never Lost
Ruth and I both heard these Tide Lines on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal separately and both loved them. We saw them on St. Andrews Night... which was basically peak Scotland!
- Stars - Set Yourself On Fire
How did I only just discover this album this year? Or did I know about it and forget? Who knows - it’s got so many awesome songs on it!
- Stables - Reverie
Saw these guys at Underneath The Stars festival... best band of the festival for me.
- Imogen Heap - The Music of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
I was re-reading Harry Potter books to see which ones were okay for Martha. It turned out that I hadn’t even read them all the first time round. Then I found this - it’s nostalgic and fun and is just lovely).
- Biffy Clyro - MTV Unplugged
Mon the Biff!
- S.T.R.S.G.N — Beyond
Big things are happening for this guy. I also happen to work with him, which is kinda cool. Loving this album a lot.
- Lawrence - Living Room
I like albums and this is one of those albums that really deserves the full playthrough.
- Nine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor - Ghosts & Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
- CHVRCHES - Love Is Dead
Probably my daughter’s favourite album this year and a great one to share when we’re driving.
- Four Tet - New Energy
This album is (still) total bliss.
- Wolf Alice - Visions Of A Life
I can’t stop listening to (and loving) "Don't Delete the Kisses".
- Weezer - Pacific Daydream
I’m pretty darn excited about the Black album next year!
- EL VY - Return To The Moon
A surprisingly fun album!
- Bon Iver - 22, A Million
I wish I could write, sing, play and produce like this!
I’m making a big push to try to move away from consumption to spend my interactions with my devices more productively and creatively. (I’ve blocked Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Inoreader and YouTube for the holidays). Here’s the stuff that I cannot do without:
- Camera - my photos are awful and poorly organised... but fun (and often of stickers!)
- 2Do - I would be lost without a to do list - this one is pretty darn fine (and I’ve tried a lot over the years!)
- Google Digital Wellbeing (Beta) - I came for the beta testing, I stayed for the genuine change that it’s producing in my behaviours
- Netflix - obviously
- Spotify - obviously
- Instagram - mostly for the sharing of stickers and of Martha’s guinea pigs
- Maps/CityMapper - having traveled before owning a smartphone (I SOUND SOOOO OLD!), the way that digital mapping handles foreign driving, in English, with real-time roadworks/closures etc is absolutely magical
- Monzo - it would be hard to be worse than Santander but I’m positively bowled over by how good Monzo bank is on a weekly basis
- Inoreader - for RSS feeds. Possibly a dying thing, possibly not, but either way it’s a good way to stay up to date
- Google Translate - the number of food packages and menu items Translated has saved me from disasters has been fantastic. (It still didn’t save me from making TunaBeefPasta - a surprisingly pleasant combination once you got your head around the fact that it contained both tuna and beef!)
2018 - thank you (mostly).
2019 - I’m looking at you with a lot of hope - be good to us please!