With the end of 2023 in sight, I will do the traditional thing and try and make sense of the past 365 days.
One of the highlights of the year was becoming a property owner. Anyone who thinks it should be the sole number one spot has unlikely never seen Pulp or Creeper live. Both experiences were far less expensive, with no knock-on costs or stresses. I’m choosing here to forget the second Pulp ticket I bought that I couldn’t end up using as I didn’t realise there was a train strike until it was too late. In fact, it was one of my best-ever years for watching live music. Along with Pulp and Creeper (x3), I saw The Hot Damn (x2), Hayseed Dixie, The Warning, Amyl and the Sniffers, and The Darkness (because of course). It could have been even better if I’d gone to all the gigs I’d booked tickets for but been unable to attend, with at least three or four of these along with Pulp.
Becoming a property owner wasn’t an aim at the start of the year. It just sort of happened out of necessity due to the dire state of the London rental market. Considering one of the property options I was seriously looking at involved a tiny flat with a bed at the top of a ladder, the property I bought is much better. It still needs one or two things done to it, but it’s almost there.
The low point was also becoming a property owner and the series of incurred costs, chasing people I was paying to do paperwork and the unfortunate luck that followed. My bank account has taken an utter battering this year, which I’m hoping will start to ease off now.
Run of luck
Luck hasn’t gone entirely my way this year, especially when it came to my flat. This wasn’t limited to my nine-hour ordeal of attempting to assemble a bed in my flat, only for the end to fall off. There was more to come.
Car trouble has been a recurring and expensive theme for 2023. Firstly, when I was loading my car up with stuff from back home to take up to London, I was paranoid about the tyre pressures that seemed to be getting lower even after pumping them up. I opted to go with a final visual inspection rather than test the pressures again to confirm my worst fears. However, I then noticed a puddle of oil underneath my bonnet. It turned out to be leaking engine oil. I then had to take most of the stuff out of my car again and carry what I could on the train.
More trouble was on the way – the motorway specifically – a few weeks later. The washing machine that came with the flat died mid-cycle during the first wash with a drum full of water and wet clothes. I transferred the clothes to the bath, where I rang out as much water as I could, loaded up all the damp clothes into bin bags and put them in the back of my car. Just as I was about to get on the M25, I heard a loud rumbling that I hoped was a motorbike. I revved the engine and it went away. I realised something was up, but hoped my car would hold together for the next 110 miles. I made it onto the M4 with 60 miles to go, only to hear a clunk, followed by something metallic dragging on the ground and have other motorists turn their heads in horror. It turned out that my exhaust had fallen off. I pulled into one of the bright yellow laybys, and a breakdown van was with me in about 20 minutes. After a temporary repair job, I was back on the road in another 25 minutes.
I plan to keep my car parked back home, as far away from London as possible. I originally bought the car in 2016 to use for moving away from London. Now that I’m back, my car has seemingly taken the hint and opted to fall apart after having served its purpose.
The comedy year
Another year, another absence from Edinburgh Fringe as a performer. Buying a flat ended up consuming comparable amounts of energy and money without having the pressure of performing every day. I doubt I will maintain this run for a decade though. I plan to return to Edinburgh Fringe to perform a show in 2024. Although that has been the intention every year since I was last there. I at least have my accommodation provisionally sorted already.
My main goal this year was to do more gigs than last year, and I achieved that. Things started pretty promisingly. It certainly didn’t hit the lofty heights of the tallies amassed in the early 2010s, but it was the best for the post-pandemic 2020s. But in the five months between May and October, I had no gigs when I was waiting for the completion, firstly of my property purchase and secondly in the redecorating. I didn’t know how many gigs I’d done this year until I counted them earlier. It turns out that I amassed 11, which was one more than last year and thus surpassing last year’s total.
I am still trying to figure out where all the gigs are and how to get them. But I’m now back in London. So, that should make things a bit easier.
2023 has been a year where I’ve got a lot of stuff out of the way, which will hopefully tee up 2024 for a less expensive 12 months with more certainty about exactly where I’ll be.