Cheerio, 2022

What is there left to do in this… year? Did I achieve what I had set in my sights? Well, the short answer is: no. In numerous ways, 2022 has been a frustrating year. Financially and comedically, it has felt stifling.

I’ve just read what I wrote last year for goals for 2022. But what’s the point of having targets if you know you’re not always going to hit them? This might be my new favourite phrase to justify underachievement.

I’d planned to write an entry on here once a week and also have a weekly target of ten jokes a week. I didn’t quite hit the target on either, although did stick with them for the majority of the year before tailing off in the final quarter.

I did beat my tally of five gigs this year, achieving the lofty heights of double figures (ten). For the most part, all of these gigs were fun and relatively local – guest spot at Edinburgh aside. But I’ll need to up this tally by tenfold over the next year if I’m going to keep doing comedy.

Another of my aims was to move back to London and dive head-first into gigging as much as I could. That hasn’t materialised. For several months, I have been stuck in the perpetual state of limbo of wanting to move back to London, but not having enough money to pay the extortionate rents for decent one bed-flats. Alongside this is my refusal to live in a shared house or a tiny, grotty flat that I can afford.

When I first moved to London, I was pretty much content with sleeping on a mattress in a cupboard. In fact, that is almost exactly what I did with the first house I lived in. But there is a gaping chasm between what you’re willing to put up with at 25 and what you are at 38.

I was also looking into buying a flat, but then Liz Truss and her disastrous 45 days as PM happened. Pretty much overnight, I saw £30,000 slashed off my property budget due to her crashing of the mortgage market.

I didn’t take HTWAPQ up to Edinburgh Fringe. In fact, 2022 marks the first year that I haven’t performed HTWAPQ since 2013 – when the show wasn’t invented yet. But having a break shouldn’t do me or the Facts Bell too much harm.

But I did visit Auld Reekie for a few nights and got Covid as a direct result of going to watch several shows in poorly ventilated rooms, surrounded by dozens of people. It wasn’t a great year for my holiday-to-illness ratio. When I later took some time off in November to visit London, I managed to pick up a norovirus. My immune system is clearly against taking paid holidays.

It wasn’t all bad in 2022. One of the highlights of the year was going to my first music festival as a performer, after getting a spot in the comedy tent at the 2000 Trees festival and reading extracts of Ross Kemp: A-Z of Hell. This then led to me appearing on Radio Gloucestershire, which was fun. It was also at this music festival that I discovered Creeper properly. I’d heard one or two of their songs before, but there’s definitely something about seeing a band live that makes everything ‘click’. They are now one of my favourite bands and I saw them for a second time in November, just before that norovirus took over.

And musically, it has been one of the best years in some time, possibly since 2016 when I made concerted efforts to go to… concerts and gigs, and discover new bands. I saw My Chemical Romance, after a two-year delay. Then there was a trip down to Glastonbury town to see The Hot Damn.

But all in all, I’m glad to see the back of 2022. The next year has to be better, with hopefully more comedy and fewer horrible illnesses.

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