Concluding the visual rundown of 2017, we have weddings, taxidermy and weird skies.
Ravi’s stag do in Bournemouth drew me extremely close to The New Forest so, having realised it was Suzi’s birthday, I made a detour on the way home to drop in on the Korffs. As well as a lovely (and much needed) recovery BBQ, it also provided an opportunity to recreate with Audrey an aerial shot I had taken of her brother Max at a similar age in the same pen.
I had my first trip to Parliament this year, lunching at the House of Lords with a client, followed by drinks in one of the MPs’ bars. It was impressive enough that I will forgive their misspelling. I guess if they cannot manage my surname they will never find this site anyway!
Over a decade in the making, this fusion of British, Indian and Singaporean culture was the most vibrant, colourful wedding I have ever attended and a joy for my camera. The only downside was that I had flown back from the USA on Thursday, repacked and travelled to Birmingham on Friday, exhausted, before delivering a reading at the ceremony. It was an honour to do so for these two, however, particularly since they chose a Neil Gaiman passage which I think was very well received.
Blade Runner is one of my favourite films (there is even a canvas print hanging in my office) so a sequel 35 years later was easily my most-anticipated film of the year. As it approached, I created this in homage to the origami unicorn from the closing scene of the original. Blade Runner 2049 surpassed my expectations, meaning Denis Villeneuve has directed my favourite film two years in a row (following last year’s Arrival).
As Jenna and I continue to share our favourite skies, I end up with a number of shots from my balcony, usually taken between between late afternoon to dusk. This is my favourite of the year.
Ben and I have been discussing a DnD campaign for some time and this year it finally took off. The game has had a major resurgence of late beyond its traditional crowd – Shamini picked it up entirely independently (and she ran a fun one-shot earlier in the year). The 4th and 5th editions have provided an increasingly flexible template for collaborative storytelling and character development in any kind of world or scenario so it appeals as much to the creative as to the nerdy.
In a year when Trump and Kim Jong-un wave their giant missiles at each other, October saw a fire alarm which had the office evacuated into a surreal sky that suggested the nuclear winter may well have descended. Fortunately, twitter swiftly confirmed it was the result of Saharan dust whipped up by Storm Ophelia. Which mostly quelled our concerns.
Caroline and I continued our Adventures in Taxidermy at the King’s Head members club. Specifically, I finally saw Gin House Burlesque after getting in trouble when I bumped into Jolie and Betsy in an airport over the summer, still not having seen their show!
By coincidence, I found myself returning just one week later with Sarah for House of Kittens’ “Menagerie” showcase in which short vignettes are performed around the venue. Whilst I had some issues with the format and the inability to see friends’ acts, it did result in this glittery version of my persona.
An early meeting outside London (which I unexpectedly had to run alone) meant catching the sunrise from a train somewhere outside Woking. New headphones and Ruelle helped. As did Snapchatting the USA (I told you we share skies). Snapchat has also been a fun way to stay in touch with Karleigh in particular, which was the main reason I started using it.
Usually I bring a couple of dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts into the office on Chrismas Eve for those still working, and the remainder are taken home to my family. With the last day of work falling on the 22nd this year, the remainder went to my Merchant House family instead. Krispy Kreme and a Sazerac – who says you can’t conjure the Deep South in London?! (And don’t worry, my family still got fresh Krispy Kremes when I returned a few days later.)
Rounding out the year with a family Christmas, Nina models her delightful facial hair. Meanwhile, my sister and Chris prepare for a baby next year and, whilst there may be a number of children in my life already, I am certainly excited to meet my actual nephew.
I have not been life blogging much in the past year so the new year seems like a good opportunity to expand on 2016’s visual rundown and cover many of the bits of 2017 I did not mention.
Following the sad demise of Volupté, it took a long while to find a new reguar haunt. Over the past couple of years Merchant House has become my hidden-away cocktail bar of choice. This year’s highlights included admonishing a wayward Matt with Caroline, getting leid with Bex (it was Hawaiian themed), and getting to try a last-of-its-kind 30-year-old Teeling whiskey instead of the less impressive bottle we were supposed to sample because the boys running the tasting had accidentally finished it the previous night.
My eldest Godson, Simon, turned three and it has been great spending more time with the family as both kids grow. Abi is swiftly catching up for better and worse! (And yes, that photo of Simon was taken from inside the ball pit; there is little doubt that it – and the bouncy castle – were far more for the adults than the kids!)
Shamini threw an “alternative fairytale” themed fancy dress birthday party. Whilst I generally prefer realistic costuming to plastic and rubber, I have been reading Fables and playing Telltale’s excellent The Wolf Among Us adaptation. Bigby Wolf seemed like a perfect choice, with some cell-shading assistance from Miranda. Why yes, those are new bespoke double-fangs. Thank you for noticing.
I finally had the chance to see violinist/dancer/performance arist/composer Lindsey Stirling live, as a result of introducing Annie to her music last year. Her stage show is phemonal, drawing elements from her excellent music videos through costumes, choreography and projections. Absolutely see her if you have the chance.
Having properly shot my first burlesque show last year, I broadened that by shooting the Folly Mixtures for the first time. The combination of low (often pink) light and rapid movement is still extremely difficult and I have a lot of respect for many of the photographers whom I’ve met at shows and whose work I have been following with a more knowledgeable eye. As for the Follies, their American-themed extravaganza throws a dozen dancers onstage at once in the incredible opening and closing numbers.
House of Burlesque 2.0 is a fitting name for a show that draws together the quality performance and overtly feminist message of previous shows and levels up every aspect of the production. I had the privilege of seeing the show evolve from its small scale conception in The Vaults below Waterloo to a full summer run on the South Bank and a Christmas run in Leicester Square (with one show left if you have missed it!).
Even if I were not unashamedly a technophile, I suspect people would still find my love of fountain pens unusual. Originally I kept one at work for signing letters, but I found that my fiction writing sometimes flowed better in analog form. This year I picked up a few additional pens so that fountain pens are now my primary writing tool (one for work, one that lives in my bag, and one for home). With multiple pens I was drawn to the niche ranges of vibrantly coloured inks. The copper-coloured pen at home is utilised primarily with a book for “Night Thoughts” purchased by Irina as a birthday gift and supplemented with a series of writing prompts. The ink of a fountain pen seems like the perfect match for capturing those fleeting thoughts in the early hours. I have considered sharing those pages (somewhat stream of consciousness) on the site, though I have not yet decided whether they an appropriate addition.
USA trip: The kids demanded a beach trip so, despite my well-documented distaste for both sun and sand, we ended up in the scorching heat of Florida. On the plus side, the sunrises were incredible enough for me haul myself down on multiple occasions for some inspiration before reading and writing the rest of the time. Also, Mexican food stand sauces are seriously spicy.
USA trip: Coinciding with the midpoint of my Reeltime Harry Potter livestreaming marathon back in the UK, we headed to Hogwarts. Going to Kings Cross station via Orlando was a surreal experience that made dragons and dementors seem comparatively normal. Boarding the Hogwarts Express is definitely a cool experience though.
USA trip: Jenna and I finally managed a New Orleans trip that we had been discussing for a while. This was sans kids but, with Jenna managing to get pregnant shortly before the trip, it was a little less raucous than it might have been. After a night of sazeracs, my choice of just a Bloody Mary for breakfast was viewed with some suspicion but I think the photograph validates my decision. I also chatted briefly with the fabulous Xena Zeitgeist whose geeky “nerdlesque” show was a decided highlight. Jenna may or may not have been dragged on-stage.
While less intensive than than this year’s filmwatching resolution, I have been continuing to devour books this year in the way I did as a child – that is, I will be in the middle of at least three or four at any given time. Interestingly my most anticipated new release this year was, probably for the first time, a graphic novel in the second collected volume of the magnificent Saga. Beyond that, it has been a fantastic year for cerebral, thought-provoking science fiction.
Jamie and Christina lived the dream when they got married by dispensing with a wedding and eloping to New York. Not that we failed to celebrate on their return, of course. They continued packing in the life events with the birth of Max at the end of the year.