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.