Being a minor fan of Douglas Adams, I note that today seems very quiet. It is my last day of being 42, which is of course the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. I honoured Mr Adams on towel day this year in recognition of his excellent contribution to life, the universe and everything. What else did I get up to?
I became 42 shortly after moving to a new home. After ten years in the centre of town, my wife and I moved out the suburbs. It was all a bit hectic but we enjoyed our newfound quietitude and are enjoying it still. Unusually, I began 2011 without any New Year Resolutions. Hitherto, my habit had been to make six each year. In my twenties and early thirties, I honoured each resolution. They were all very positive and achievable. In my late thirties I began to include some negative resolutions. They proved harder to keep. After a few years without any success, I temporarily lost the faith in being resolute. One resolution which had featured every year for at least twenty, excepting last year, was concerned with how many words I would write. Twenty years ago this promise to myself was that I would produce a novel. Ironic then that I write these words having published well over 300,000 words on this blog and getting paid for them.
For the first time in my life, I took up gardening properly. My wife and I want to grow our own food. Our garden was full of leylandii when the year began. We hired some excellent tree surgeons from Brighton to cut them down. Slowly we transformed our garden. Thinking I would save myself from trouble later on, I ruined myself double digging some long raised beds. “Progress is slow” I said in that clip. It certainly is.
I began to play around with film making, with mixed results. Definitely I’ve improved from the days of when it seemed to be a good idea to explain why blokes don’t do yoga. Unfortunately my most popular videos are the ones which make a fool of me. I guess it is easier to get people to laugh than cry. Not that I wanted to make people cry but I did hope for some more sophisticated emotional response than screaming with laughter, which is the most common reaction to my cookery lesson on how to make a pasta bake.
I started to learn to cook but haven’t made much progress in that department either. What progress I did make is charted in my Cooking in the Cave channel, which is instructive if not informative. One notable success was my home made hummus.
Having quit formal involvement in the chess scene, I turned my spare time back to political work by fulfilling a promise to campaign for a friend’s election to Brighton & Hove City council. Leo Littman was duly elected for the Green Party to Brighton & Hove City Council. Although us Greens did not manage to win a majority the other two parties were content, for some reason, to let us run the council. Perhaps they don’t want power any more? It has been a little strange being in the party in power. No more theoretical debate!
The Green councillors made me proud, adopting an actual policy towards the issue known as ‘the travellers’. Our local thieving Tory bastards went on the full frontal attack, complaining that we were encouraging the feckless travellers to come to Brighton. The Greens pointed out that traveller numbers were very much the same as they have been every year for the last decade but that their critics had never adopted a policy on the issue at all. Very briefly, the new policy (PDF download) was to enforce good neighbour compacts whilst finding a site which could be used permanently by travellers. After much consultation, a site has been found. There will be more consulation before the site is finalised. No other local party has a policy on the issue at all!
In October I travelled to London to join in with Occupy London. I was hoping that this might kickstart widespread activism against the Coalition Government. It didn’t. I became heavily involved and played a crucial role in organising the legal defence to the eviction threat brought by the City of London Corporation. Legal events have so far followed my predictions almost exactly, although we await the High Court’s decision on whether the encampment will be evicted. Surely it will. I pushed for our people to set their own end date but unfortunately the people left behind after two months of mission creep appear unable to make any decisions at all. Instead they it created a small and certain amount of chaos and fostered a camp which many of us consider too dangerous to remain in. Just at the eviction trial began, I quit the scene and returned to Brighton.
I also began the training to become a domestic electrician. There’s no plan to become a fully functioning electrician – it is just cheaper to do all the training myself, but the kit and rewire my own house than it is to hire an electrician. There must be a shortage of electricians. I haven’t completed the training because Occupy London got in the way.
Thus, here I am, at the end of my year of being 42. I’ve learnt a lot but am unfinished with my education. What will 43 bring? Hopefully, this time next year I’ll be reporting on much progress in my garden, in my kitchen and all without dodgy electrics to keep me in the dark. Think I’ll make some New Year Resolutions this year but, no, they’re not for sharing.