“Another year over, a new one just begun”
Here’s a brief summary of my own personal 2013, a year of many ups and downs.
The family summer holiday which took in London, a couple of days in Paris (first time since 1997) and, er, Sidcup, including a trip to The Making of Harry Potter (a surprise for Felicity’s birthday) and my personal favourite the Museum of London.
Being shortlisted for the Ian Rankin Creative Writing Scholarship
Winning an Ian Rankin Creative Writing Scholarship
Winning £1525 on Channel 4’s “Face The Clock” (the title changed so many times that it may just be The Clock)
Working as a reporter on “Who’s The Mammy?”, a Radio Scotland feature for the BBC
Finally getting a new turntable!
The David Bowie Is exhibition at the V&A in London
Meeting and interviewing legendary singer-songwriter-producer John Carter
Being shortlisted for two radio awards at Creative Loop’s Student Media Festival, winning one for 76 with a Bullet – The Rise and Fall of the Record Shop
Winning a Russell Trust Scholarship
Being selected to take part in the producer training course as part of Radio goNORTH in Inverness
Felicity being match mascot for Dunfermline 6-1 Forfar play-off game
Losing a stone and a half through walking
Winning the Radio Academy (Scotland) quiz for the second year running as “Trivia Newton-John” (pictured above, with teammates Andrea, Lisa and Andrew and Radio Academy Chairman Richard Melvin)
Randolph’s Leap using my live recording of their “Walking in the Air” cover as a track on their festive EP
My mate Dave writing a song inspired by my radio ramblings on Where The Action Is – Late Night Radio by The Silver Birches
Getting an audition in 2014 for Fifteen to One, the first quiz show I ever appeared on
Assisting a well-known writer in research for a sitcom currently in development. Fingers crossed it gets the go ahead in 2014.
Seeing Andy Murray win Wimbledon and Chris Froome winning the Tour de France.
Taking Felicity to a recording of CBBC’s The Dog Ate My Homework and, thanks to Stuart Barrie, a tour of Capital FM.
Being turned down for the BBC’s Production Talent Pool (March) and Work Experience Placement Programme (October)
Being unable to get a job or even work experience with any radio stations in Scotland, including the BBC
Being unemployed since June with no entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance or other benefits
Struggling with depression and a persistent ankle problem (not helped by falling on black ice, causing more damage)
Having to deal with the Benefits Agency/Jobseekers Allowance/Department for Work and Pensions – a dispiriting experience at the best of times
Having to turn down an audition for The Chase
I applied for The Chase (again), Pointless and Tipping Point and only gaining an audition for the latter but wasn’t selected for the show
A debilitating bout of lumbago in early April – came out of nowhere and disappeared after a couple of days
Like many people, I haven’t read as much as I would’ve liked to this year. When I was commuting to Edinburgh I had the “luxury” of three different buses (each way) in which I could devour my latest tome of choice. It’s a bit more difficult in an Astra. Being out of work means I should have more time to read but it doesn’t always work out that way. Danny Baker’s book was my favourite this year. It was one of those books that I couldn’t wait to get back to and it reminded me of why I used to read so much. The five books at the bottom of this list were all recent acquisitions, whether through a competition win, a gift or from Santa Claus. If these five don’t reignite my appetite then nothing will.
“Going to Sea in a Sieve” by Danny Baker
“Songs That Saved Your Life – The Art of The Smiths 1982-87″ by Simon Goddard
“Bits of Me Are Falling Apart” by William Leith
“Ziggyology” by Simon Goddard
“You are Awful (But I Like You): Travels Through Unloved Britain” by Tim Moore
“Kill Your Friends” by John Niven
“On The Milk” by William Robertson
“Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star” by Tracey Thorn
“My Autobiography” by Morrissey
“Creation Stories” by Alan McGee (thanks Andrea)
“How Music Works” by David Byrne
“Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop” by Bob Stanley
As a parent any visit to the cinema in the last seven years has either involved talking animals, animation or a mixture of both. I’m not sure the last time I actually saw a film at the cinema that was for adults. However I did manage to see some good films – not necessarily released in 2013 – and my short list reflects this. To be honest, I do enjoy films but music is really my thing. I may have missed some films off this list and I’ll amend it as I recall them.
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
The Imposter (2012)
Catfish (2010) via Netflix
Milk (2008) via Netflix
The Great Hip Hop Hoax (2013) – My favourite new film this year
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Monsters University (2013)
MUSIC ENJOYED – COMPILATIONS
Jackie DeShannon – Keep Me in Mind: The Complete Imperial and Liberty Singles Volume 3 (Ace)
Various – The Red Bird Girls (Very First Time in True Stereo) 1964-1966 (Real Gone Music)
I Am Kloot – B (Skinny Dog)
The Bee Gees – Mythology (Reprise)
Various – Here Come The Girls Volume 5 (Sequel) – Took me years to final get this. I now have all ten volumes.
Various – You Got Yours – East Bay Garage 1965-1967 (Big Beat)
Various – Scared To Get Happy: A Story of Indie Pop 1980 to 1989 (Cherry Red)
Various – Where The Girls Are Volume 8 (Ace)
Various – A Christmas Gift for You from Elefant Records (Elefant)
MUSIC ENJOYED – SINGLES/DOWNLOADS
There were some cracking records released in 2013, in all manner of formats, but here are my Top 3:
1. TeenCanteen – Honey (Neu Reekie)
2. Jacques Caramac and the Sweet Generation – Snowballs/Take It Where You Find It (Everyday Life Recordings)
3. Be Like Pablo (featuring Kuda) – Without The Pain (Stray Cat)
The rest, in no particular order, were:
The Store Keys/George Gallacher – I Got My Mojo Working/Louie Louie (Starla)
Middleton Hall – Middleton Hall (Twin City Records)
Button Up – Inhaler (Button Up)
Nick Garrie – Rainy Days in Sunny Sydney (Elefant)
Linden – If I Had Wings EP (AED)
BMX Bandits – Beautiful Friend/All Around The World (Elefant singles)
Jacques Caramac and the Sweet Generation – Snowballs/Take It Where You Find It (Everyday Life Recordings)
Jacques Caramac and the Sweet Generation – A Walk in the Park (Everyday Life Recordings)
Crocodiles – Teardrop Guitar (Frenchkiss)
Camera Obscura – Do It Again (4AD)
Cults – I Can Hardly Make You Mine (Sony)
Strawberry Whiplash – September Saturday (Matinee)
Comet Gain – Avenue Girls (WIAIWYA)
Parquet Courts – Stoned and Starving (What’s Your Rupture)
Ace City Racers – The Other Side of Midnight (ASD Session)
Honeymooon – Sure Stuck (Soundcloud Download)
Jacco Gardner – Clear The Air (Trouble in Mind)
Euros Childs – Tete a Tete (National Elf)
Bubblegum Lemonade – Cool Guitar Girl/Have You Seen Faith? (Matinee)
NEW MUSIC ENJOYED – ALBUMS
While my record buying hasn’t been as prolific as in previous years – certainly not in terms of new bands and singers – there were a few albums that caught my eyes and ears. While those listed soundtracked various parts of the year, the one pictured above was played with such great regularity that it became my go-to album. Well done Public Service Broadcasting for Inform Educate Entertain, released on the Test Card Recordings label. (After publishing this list of albums I decided to edit the post to reflect the albums into a Top 10).
1. Public Service Broadcasting – Inform Educate Entertain (Test Card Recordings)
2. Kid Canaveral – Now That You Are a Dancer (Fence)
3. Be Like Pablo – The New Adventures (Stray Cat)
4. Camera Obscura – Desire Lines (4AD)
5. The Wellgreen – Grin and Bear It (Barne Society)
6. The Pastels – Slow Summit (Domin0)
7. The Pictish Trail – Secret Soundz Volume 2 (Fence)
8. Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe (Goodbye/Virgin)
9. Edwyn Collins – Understated (AED)
10. Tracey Thorn – Tinsel and Lights (Buzzin’ Fly) – Didn’t hear it until this year!
Due to the volume of gigs attended this year I wrote a separate blog, which you can read HERE.
Having begun the year as a radio student and ending it as an unemployed HND Radio graduate I’ve been listening to a lot of radio, whether by educational necessity or design. The shows and podcasts listed are the ones I have enjoyed on a regular basis.
Sound of the Sixties (Radio 2)
Art School Dancing (98.8 Castle FM)
Art School Dancing’s Hogmanay Hundred (Radio Saltire)
Radio goNORTH (goNORTH festival) – An amazing experience working as both producer and presenter which I blogged about HERE.
John Cavanagh’s Soundwave (Radio Six International)
Roy Møller – A Jingle Jangle Scottish Pop Hogmanay (Mixcloud)
Remembering James Bulger (Radio 4, 12 Feb)
Who’s The Mammy? (Radio Scotland, 5/10 Mar) – Okay I’m a biased as I worked as a reporter on this one!
Roy Møller – Positively Princes Street (Mixcloud)
The Lach Chronicles (Radio 4/Dabster)
Jim Gellatly’s New Music Podcast (Mixcloud)
Scott Hastie’s New Music Mixtape (Mixcloud)
Get It On with Bryan Burnett (Radio Scotland)
Jim Gellatly’s In Demand: Uncut (Bauer network)
I’ve split the shows I’ve enjoyed this year into sub-genres. Anyone who knows me will vouch for my love of all things trivial and quiz-related. Here are the shows, off the top of my head, that I recall enjoying in 2013. I’ll add any others that spring to mind.
Quiz/Game Shows: Face The Clock (Channel 4) (host and contestant, pictured above), Pointless (BBC1), University Challenge (BBC2), Only Connect (BBC4), Who Dares Wins (BBC1), Tipping Point (ITV), Mastermind (BBC2), Britain’s Brightest (BBC1), The Chase (ITV)
Children: Katie Morag (CBBC), Hacker Time (CBBC), Horrible Histories (CBBC)
Drama: Ripper Street (BBC1), Lewis (ITV), Dexter (Fox), Mad Men (Sky Atlantic), Boardwalk Empire (Sky Atlantic), The Newsroom (Sky), House of Cards (US, Netflix), House of Cards (UK, Netflix), Columbo (repeats on various channels), Top of the Lake (BBC2), Peaky Blinders (BBC2), Death Comes to Pemberley (BBC1), Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case (ITV), The Wipers Times (BBC2)
Reality: Extreme Couponing/Sweepstakes (TLC), Undercover Boss (Channel 4), The Great British Bake-Off (BBC2), Gogglebox (Channel 4), Fried Chicken Shop (Channel 4)
Comedy: The Wrong Mans (BBC2), Blandings (BBC1), Badults (BBC3), A Touch of Cloth 2 (Sky), Lilyhammer (Netflix), Yonderland (Sky 1), VEEP (Sky Atlantic), Psychobitches (Sky Arts), Big Bang Theory (E4), Mike and Molly (Comedy Central)
Sport: Chris Froome winning the Tour de France, Europe thrashing the USA to win The Mosconi Cup, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, England winning The Ashes (we don’t talk about the recent losses), Dunfermline 6-1 Forfar
Critic: Andrew Collins: Telly Addict (Weekly TV review on Guardian website)
Ian Rankin (Adam Smith College x 2) – Creative Writing Scholarship lunch and HND graduation
John Carter (London) – interviewed for radio feature
Tim Bentinck (aka “David Archer”) – Outside the Gents at the David Bowie Is exhibition at the V&A!
Tone Rønning (Executive Producer, Lilyhammer) – interviewed at Celtic Media Festival
Silibil and Brains – Screening of The Great HipHop Hoax at the Odeon Wester Hailes
Wendy Morgan – Vox humana of The Popguns (pictured above with yours truly)
Rab Noakes – I was drunk in Inverness, he probably wouldn’t remember it!
Ian Stirling – After the recording of The Dog Ate My Homework, I grabbed a quick snap of host Ian and Felicity together.
HEROES OF THE YEAR
Music: Kid Canaveral, Randolph’s Leap, TeenCanteen, Duglas T Stewart, Be Like Pablo, Joe McAlinden, Roddy Frame, Jacques Caramac and the Sweet Generation, Bubblegum Lemonade, Strawberry Whiplash, Public Service Broadcasting, Brian Matthew, The Wellgreen, Roy Moller, Nick Garrie.
All those who allowed me to interview them for my radio course or assisted in some other way (Stuart Barrie (Capital FM), John Reed (Cherry Red Records), Wendy Pickles (The Popguns), Andrew Collins, Duglas T Stewart, John Carter, Simon Goddard, TeenCanteen, The Wellgreen)
All the listeners of my radio shows “Where The Action Is” and “Planet Pop”.
Andrea McKinnon, Andrew Collins and Simon Goddard all for general inspiration in various ways.
The Clock (Channel 4) 2 February 2013 – Recorded in Dumbarton in November 2012 but broadcast this year
I appeared on Adam Smith College Radio and K-Town FM a few times earlier in the year while I was at college.
I also appeared as presenter and producer on Radio goNORTH.
Recorded a few wee listener contributions for Late Night Gina on the Bauer network – She is such a positive person.
Again, like gigs, there have been so many wins this year that I blogged about them separately yesterday.
VILLAINS OF THE YEAR
Official Chart Company – For “asking” other (better) chart websites, like Chart Stats, to remove their chart data – boo sucks to The Man.
People in “communication industries” who can’t be bothered to reply to emails, let alone acknowledge them.
JobcentrePlus staff for encouraging me to sign off because I wasn’t getting any Jobseekers allowance. Even they realised it was a pointless charade.
Department for Work and Pensions – Demanding claimants use their Universal Jobmatch website to look for jobs even though it’s a multi-million pound waste of space that still doesn’t work for me despite repeated emails.
Employment Agencies – So many of them fail to acknowledge, let alone reply to applications for jobs. This includes those who offer “immediate interviews” that never materialise.
Sky/Disney – Examples of large companies who failed to respond to emails or Tweets or Facebook posts. They want to use social media to shift product but don’t want to engage with those buying said product. In the case of Sky I’ve lost count of how many typos I’ve told them about on Sky Sports News. An occasional “thank you for pointing that out” would be appreciated. They’re almost as bad as Setanta were. In fact I may well put together a blog of some of the many typos spotted in 2013.
My neighbour – For continuing to park like an inconsiderate dick.
The Government – Need I say more?
WHAT DOES 2014 HOLD?
Finish my book(s)? I’d love to but I doubt it. I mean I *want* to but I just can’t get myself going on it. Somewhat dismayed to find someone in Spain has just published a book on the same topic. Never say never.
A paid job in radio/broadcasting? If I’m being realistic I think that ship has sailed but a return to community radio is on the cards.
Hopefully an appearance on Pointless? We had an audition last year but missed out. We applied again this year but weren’t even invited to an audition. However, I do have an audition in January for Fifteen to One, which is being revived by Channel 4. Fingers crossed.
Weight loss? I made excellent progress this year due to a routine of regular walking. A fall on black ice meant I haven’t walked for over a month but I should be ready in January to return to a pounding of the local streets. I lost 1 1/2 stone and I’m hopefully Christmas hasn’t added too much of that back on.
Exercise? Depression and unemployment aren’t a good mix and the walking I did this year kept the ‘black dog’ at bay. I still have the usual ups and downs that most people have but I’m hopeful that the really dark days are behind me.
Other irons in the fire? Who knows? My main objective is to get some paid work and to do community radio as a hobby. I also need to read and write more, as well as maintain the exercise, whether it be walking or swimming.
2014 will also bring visits to the start of the Tour de France in Leeds, the Commonwealth Games cycling road race (we couldn’t get tickets for anything we wanted) and, hopefully, a distributor for My Secret World – The Story of Sarah Records, a documentary about the record label that soundtracked my early twenties.
Happy New Year everybody and all the best for 2014. I hope it brings you what you want.
P.S. This blog is subject to change as I remember more from the year.