As a New Year has begun it is time to reflect and review the past 12 months of my life and what better way to do it than with lists. This is the third time I have done ‘A Year In Lists’ and I think it’s a fun and interesting way to sum up 2012. So here is my 2012 in lists.

Top 5 Albums

1) Smash Cast – The Music of SMASH

2) Muse – The 2nd Law

3) Kylie Minogue – The Abbey Road Sessions

4) Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss

5) Fun – Some Nights

I had a lot big name albums in 2012 to listen to. There were new albums from Muse, Mumford & Sons, Scouting For Girls, Owl City, Scisssor Sisters, Keane, Katie Melua, Madonna and Rufus Wainwright. There were also some artists that made their way on to my iPod. The top 5 list is put together my combining all the plays from the songs on the album on my iPod. The number one album this year just like the previous years is connected to a TV show. Smash is about a fictional musical of Marilyn Monroe and features mainly original songs but some covers. For some one like me who likes musicals this was a great album and I certainly hope there is a second album soon. In second place was the rock band Muse. Having seen them live in 2011 my love for their music has just grown and I love the new sound that ‘The 2nd Law’ has. There is an 80’s feel to some songs but at the same time they manage to keep their own style. At number 3 is Kylie Minogue. Since childhood I have loved Kylie and this album is a refreshing twist on a best of album. The songs have adopted a more grown up style and this make you listen to the songs in a totally new way. The album also features two songs that have previously been unrecorded which is a bonus. It is simply a beautiful album.  At 4 it is Carly Rae Jepsen. This is a new artist for me and I admit I did buy on the back of the huge hit ‘Call Me Maybe’ and it is largely down to this song and a couple of others why it features in the top 5 albums. It is a cheesy pop album and in some cases to cheesy even for me but there is no denying some hit songs. It reminds me a lot about Britney Spears’ debut album. Finally in 5th place is Fun. Once again this a new group for me and I like their sound. They have some quality songs and just summed up parts of my life and year. Looking at the list I’m a little saddened with myself that only 1 of these albums is by a British artist, in fact less half of all albums I bought were by a British artist. Hopefully 2013 will be a good year for British music.

Top 5 Songs

1) Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

2) The Lake Poets – City By The Sea

3) Kelly Clarkson – What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You (Stronger)

4) Pet Shop Boys – Winner

5) Fun – We Are Young

This top 5 has been put together based on the number of plays on my iPod. At number 1 the top song is ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen. This is just a brilliant pop song. I love the idea of someone just having the guts to give someone they have just met and like their number. I wish I had the guts to do it sometimes. I’m sure it has led to some cheesy chat up lines but it is still a great pop song. At number 2 I’m pleased to say is a local artist ‘The Lake Poets’. Martin the singer is a hugely talented songwriter but also a really nice guy. His songs just really move me when I listen to them and that’s a rare talent. This guy will be huge very soon and he deserves all the success that comes his way. This song is about Sunderland and growing up in the North East. For me having lived in the North East all my life and also spent my university years in Sunderland I knew it would be hard to resist this song. At number 3 it is Kelly Clarkson with ‘What Doesn’t Kill You Make You (Stronger)’. This is such an upbeat and motivational song and there have been many times in 2012 when I have needed this song to pick me up after some setbacks. As well as that it is also a very good pop song. At number 4 it is also another artist with North East roots, the Pet Shop Boys and their song ‘Winner’.  Once again this a great motivational song but I also thought it summed up the mood during the summer while we all watched the Olympics and Paralympics. Finally in 5th place just like the album that this is from its Fun with ‘We Are Young’. This is a song about making the most of things now and embracing new experiences. It is something I need to do in my own life.

Top 5 Books

1) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

2) Elisabeth Sladen the Autobiography by Elisabeth Sladen

3) The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

4) The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

5) War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

This year was a better year for reading although I did miss out on my target of 30 books. I still managed to read more than the previous year though so I did have some improvement. My number 1 book of the year is ‘The Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller. This is essentially a love story between Achilles and Patroclus but   it is also a Greek myth. This book worked for me on many levels. First I liked the love story element. It does make a change for main stream book to deal with a same-sex relationship and the challenges that this relationship faces no matter what period it is set in. I also liked how accessible the book was. I have never studied Classics and have attempted to read the Iliad but with little success so this book was refreshing take on this classic. At number 2 it was Elisabeth Sladen’s autobiography. This was published posthumously by her family and features a moving tribute at the end. As a Dr Who fan I enjoyed reading about early episodes of Dr Who and the behind the scenes stuff. Sarah Jane smith has always been the ultimate Dr Who companion. She has worked with the most Dr’s and even had her own spin-off show. It is obvious reading this book how much Dr Who meant to her but it wasn’t the only work she did. She was a very talented actress and this book highlights her career success’. I will be amazed if anyone can make it through the whole book without shedding a tear. At number 3 is ‘The Sense Of An Ending’ by Julian Barnes. This was the winner of the Booker Prize in 2011 and was the reason decided to read it. It is only a short novel but it is beautifully written and from early on the reader is absorbed into the story. At number 4 it is ‘Perks Of Being A Wallflower’. I read this as I planned to see the film but didn’t get around to it. The book is about that boy we all knew who just couldn’t fit in. I think in some ways I was that boy at school. I never got picked for the sport teams etc so I found the book a moving account of growing up. Finally in 5th place is ‘War Horse’. Once again I read this because I wanted to read it before the film. I still haven’t seen the film but seeing as I cried at the book there’s no chance I’ll get through the film without sobbing. This is one of those books is a children’s classic and is another reason why children’s books should be seen in the same way as adult books.

Top 5 TV Programmes

1) Once Upon A Time

2) The Olympics

3) Great British Bake Off

4) Merlin

5) Downton Abbey

I have watched some really good programmes this year. for the first time since doing my ‘My Year In Lists’ there is no Glee because it is now on SKY and I don’t have SKY. I watched it on DVD and it is still great but sadly doesn’t qualify on the list this year. At number 1 it is a new show called ‘Once Upon A Time’. This is about fairytale characters trapped in modern-day times and they need the daughter of Snow White to break the curse. It is a quite complex plot but it is really good and there have been so many twists and turns you have never been able to guess where the story will go next. I am looking forward to the second season this year. At number 2 it is the Olympics. Well this is a list about 2012 so it is hard not get the Olympics in some where. I’m not usually a big sports fan but I always enjoy watching the Olympics. As the Olympics were in London in 2012 it added to the whole fascination. Along with the rest of the country I was amazed at the Opening Ceremony (I still can’t believe the Queen did that scene with James Bond). There were also many , many fantastic sporting moments involving British athletes. Super Saturday was great and found myself shouting for Mo Farah two Saturdays running and cheering Tom Daley on in his diving. It wasn’t only British interests that I was supporting. I had torn allegiance in the diving as I was supporting Matthew Mitcham in the diving as he was the only openly gay athlete in the Olympics and I wanted him to do well. By some strange fate I found myself obsessed with the Beach Volleyball. Now as a gay man it didn’t really do much for me. what really got me was it was more like watching party rather than a sporting event because of the music and the dancers and even some Benny Hill music. It was certainly my highlight of the Olympics. In third place it is ‘Great British Bake Off’. Although this is not a new programme it is the first time I really sat down and watched it properly. Because of my love for the show (partly helped by James and Jon on the show) I have discovered the joy of baking. So not only was it enjoyable to watch but I have discovered a new hobby because of it.  In 4th place it is Merlin. This was the last ever series of Merlin and it was even darker than before. I found the final episode so sad and watching Merlin tell Arthur about his magic reminded me of how I felt when I ‘came out’ that fear of rejection from a friend. I’m really going to miss the show. Finally in 5th place is Downton Abbey. This series got back it its original form. Dame Maggie Smith still makes the show the success it is.

Top 5 Films

1) Skyfall

2) Avengers Assemble

3) The Woman In Black

4) Brave

5) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

One of my New Years Resolutions for 2012 was to go to the cinema lot more and actually managed to do this. I even managed double figures for cinema visits which is probably a first for me. At number 1, my film of the year is Skyfall. I have never seen a James Bond film at the cinema before and I am so glad I saw this one. It was beautifully shot especially the scenes in Scotland. It had a fantastic cast and a good plot. Overall my best film experience of the year. At number 2 it is Avengers Assemble. Despite being a self-confessed geek I am not a big comic book fan. However I did love this film. I even managed to put my irrational childhood fear of the Incredible Hulk to one side. At number 3 it was the scary ‘The Woman In Black’. I didn’t know much about the story before hand and that is probably why I enjoyed it as much as I did. It was scary and it held the tension all the way through until the end. some of the acting was slightly wooden but overall it was a great film. At number 4 it is ‘Brave’. This was a Disney Pixar film but had the feel more of a Disney Classic instead of a Pixar film. It was beautifully done and I loved the idea of the story, it’s good to have a red-head as a heroine for once. Finally in 5th place it is ‘The Hobbit: an unexpected journey’. I did debate whether this would make the list as I had some other films on a similar rating such as ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Rock of Ages’. However I have included it because overall it did work more than the other 2 films mentioned. I hope the next two films are better though than this one.

Top 5 Live Acts/Productions

1) Jesus Christ Superstar

2) The Lake Poets

3) Anne Boleyn

4) Matthew Bournes ‘The Nutcracker’

5) Titanic the Musical

As well going to the cinema more another resolution in 2012 was to go to the theatre more and I managed to do this. I didn’t go to many music gigs this year though so I think I will try to go to more concerts/gigs in 2013. At number 1 it is ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.  This was a surprise hit for me. It has never really appealed to me before but at the last-minute I ended up going to see the new production of it starring Mel C, Tim Minchin and Chris Moyles. I was blown away by the show. I liked how they had put a modern twist on the musical and even Chris Moyles was good in the show. I am very pleased I got to see it. At number 2 it is the Lake Poets. I mentioned them in my top 5 songs and the gig I went to was actually the single launch of that song at the Sage Gateshead. It was a brilliant gig and it had the feeling of a very special evening for everyone there. At number 3 it is the play ‘Anne Boleyn’. As a historical character I’m not a fan of Anne Boleyn but I did enjoy this production by the Globe on tour and the English Touring Theatre. It had a great cast and it really made the audience feel like they were part of the show. At number 4 it is Matthew Bournes ‘The Nutcracker’. I have said before I’m not a big fan of ballet but I do love Matthew Bournes work. He manages to make you forget that it is ballet you are watching, its more like contemporary dancing. I loved this production and it certainly made me look at liquorice allsorts in a different light. Finally at number 5 it is ‘Titanic: the musical’ by Darlington Operatic Society. I went to see this for two reasons. First I was curious how you could do a musical about Titanic and secondly I wanted to support a local theatre group. I was surprised at how good the music was for the show and there were some great performances. I was torn between whether to include this show or Darlington Operatics other show from 2012 which was ‘Footloose’ which I also enjoyed. However Titanic just clinched it.

Top 5 Most Played Songs on my iPod

1) LMFAO – Sexy & I Know It

2) Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

3) SMASH cast – A Thousand & One Nights

4) SMASH cast – Let Me Be Your Star

5) Glee Cast – Somebody That I Used To Know

They usually say you can tell a lot about someone from the most played songs on their iPod. With that in mind I’m not exactly sure how I respond to my top 5 but here goes. At number 1 it is LMFAO, I hope this isn’t on their because I’m full of myself (feel free to disagree/agree). I do find the song very catchy and I admit it does cheer me up on my way to work. I do sometimes find myself mouthing the words I just hope nobody can lip read. At least I refrain from the wiggling part. At number 2 it is Carly Rae Jepsen. I suppose this makes sense because it is from one of my top albums of the year and it is also my favourite track of the year. Numbers 3 & 4 are both songs from the TV show SMASH. ‘A Thousand & One Nights’ was one of my favourite parts of the show and ‘Let Me Be Your Star’ is a song which I suppose we all want to sing at certain moments in our lives and I know that in 2012 I had a few of those moments. Finally at number 5 is Glee’s version of ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’. I prefer this version of the song to the original by Gotye because it was only when I had listened to this version did I understand the song. Also I feel that there were moments in my life in 2012 where this song may have been quite fitting.

Top 5 Personal Disappointments

1) Still Living At Home

2) Not Going Out/having fun

3) No Holiday

4) Becoming too wrapped up in myself and not being there for others

5) Being Single

OK here are the areas of my life in 2012 which I was disappointed with. Worryingly they are very similar to the 2011 list. Still living at home is a personal disappointment as I am ready to move on. I will strive to make this my main goal for 2013. I have set myself a deadline of September to hopefully have moved out or at the very least be well on the way to moving out. At number 2 it is ‘not going out’. I am my own worst enemy sometimes. So many times have I had an opportunity to do something and I want to say yes but no comes out instead. This has gone on a long time and won’t be easy to fix but I can at least start by saying yes more. Once again I didn’t have a holiday last year. This is only down to me and is because a) I put work as a priority b)I didn’t really want to organise something (I know that’s just lazy). I would like to say I was OK without a proper holiday but I would be lying. I need to have some sort of break this year just so I can have some time to relax and recharge. At number 4 I put getting too wrapped up in myself and letting people down. Last year I just focussed on me and how low I felt and didn’t always stop to look at those around me who could have done with some emotional support. Sometimes I did but often it was too late and that made me feel rubbish. Finally at number 5 it is that old classic ‘being single’. I know that if I was more outgoing and optimistic then my chances might improve. I also know that if it is going to happen it will and the true romantic in me (yes I’m a soppy romantic) still believes/hopes that my Mr.Right is out there.

Top 5 Personal Highlights

1) Rediscovering Baking

2) Seeing the Olympic Flame

3) Moving On

4) Being Inspired By Others

5) Becoming more settled with my sexuality

I think it is only right that I end this collection of lists with my personal highlights of the year. I have struggled putting the 5 together but here goes. At number one it is baking. I haven’t really baked since I was a child so have really enjoyed rediscovering baking. The winner of the Great British Bake Off said he does baking because he wants a sense of approval and congratulations and I think that is partly why I enjoy it. I like to see that I have completed something and that others can benefit it from it and hopefully get some praise. I am certainly going to bake more in 2013 I got a recipe book just before Christmas and I plan to work my way through it. At number 2 it was seeing the Olympic Flame. Sadly I was unable to actually go to the Olympics but I did see the Torch Relay when it was in Durham and Darlington and the lighting of the cauldron in Durham. The reason this was a big deal is because since I can remember the one thing that has always fascinated me about the Olympics is the Olympic Flame so to see it in my home town did feel special. At number 3 I have said ‘moving on’. This is very vague but what I mean is that I moved on in an area of my life and that was leaving hospital radio. After 10 years of being a volunteer I finally made the leap and stepped down. Having been involved for so long it was hard to leave. Also from a personal point of view I felt a sense of loyalty to the station. I started there when I finished university while I looked for a job and I think getting involved with that helped me at the difficult scary time in my life and for this reason I felt I had a debt to pay. Secondly I discovered from family members after joining hospital radio that my granddad had been on the Friends of the Hospital board when they agreed to the set up of the station and he always thought it was a great idea. Although both of these reasons for saying were strong in my mind I knew in my heart it was time to leave and looking back it was 100% the right decision. I just hope I can move on in other ways in my life in 2013. At number 4 I said ‘being inspired by others’. I’m not going to embarrass people but I have met people this year who have made me stop and think and look at myself and realise actually things are possible I just have to let them happen. I think it is a true gift to be able to inspire people in some way and I hope one day I can come close to inspiring someone. Finally at number 5 it is ‘being more settled with my sexuality’. when I came out in 2011 I partly presumed that the hardest part was over and after a couple of weeks/months my life would be sorted. That was totally wrong. I have realised that since coming out I have had to go on a personal journey and learn to feel comfortable with my sexuality and me. Being more open with people helps. I openly talk about it as long as it is relevant to the situation. My friends are great and so are my family but it has also helped meeting and talking with other gay people of my age. Yes it is hard at times when I realise I still can’t get married or have my own children. Yes there are other options for these issues but it still hurts at times but I would live with that than live a lie.

So there you have it, my year in lists. I have to tell you its been fun to do but also quite a lot of work to do to put all this together. My New Years Resolutions will be in the next blog post which I will start working on soon.

Thanks again for your continued support and I hope that my blog posts over the next 12 months are at least interesting most of the time.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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