It is that time of year again where I try to sum up my year in lists based on the song by Los Campesino’s ‘My Year in Lists’. If you haven’t listened to the song then do so while reading this post. So here is my 2016 summed up in top 5 lists.
Top 5 Albums
- Rachel Platten – Wildfire
- The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware of It
- Birdy – Beautiful Lies
- Laurence Fox – Holding Patterns
- Eliza and the Bear – Eliza and the Bear
2016 was a good year for albums and there were some strong contenders for my top 5. It is mainly made up based on number of listens as I think it is a good reflection of a whole year and to get an idea of the albums that were the soundtrack to my year. I seemed to listen to mainly Group and Female Solo Artists. Before I talk about the albums I wanted to mention a couple of albums that were surprise hits for me although don;t make the top 5. They are Rick Astley ’50’ and Christine and the Queens ‘Chaleur Humaine’. They are both worth checking out. OK the Top 5 and my number 1 album is Rachel Platten ‘Wildfire’. The album is very upbeat feel good album and stand out songs include ‘Stand By You’, ‘Fight Song’ and ‘Beating Me Up’. I had a troubling year and this album just seemed to stick a chord and help me on my tough days. At number 2 it is The 1975 with ‘I Like It When You Sleep For You are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware of It’. Phew that’s a mouthful. I do believe it is officially the longest album title (it may have changed depending on when you read this). Stand out songs include ‘The Sound’ and ‘Nana’. This is the groups second album and if I am hones tI didn’t like their first album so was pleasantly surprised with this one and pleased to have it in my top 5 albums. At number 3 it is Birdy with ‘Beautiful Lies’. I am, a sucker for haunting singer songwriter vocal and Birdy fits this bill well. Stand out songs include ‘Keeping Your Head Up’, ‘Wings’ and ‘Wild Horses’. It is a perfect album to just chill out after a stressful day. At number 4 it is Laurence Fox. Yes the actor but to my surprise a decent singer as well. It is quite a personal album but with dark undertones. Standout songs include ‘Rise Again’ and ‘Gunfight’. It may have been a risk for him to do but I think it has paid off. Finally at number 5 it is Eliza and the Bear. Honestly IG bought this album on a whim and over the year I have enjoyed discovering the album. It might take a few listens to get into it but once you do it is worth it. Stand out songs include ‘Friends’, ‘Make It On My Own’ and ‘Lion’s Heart’.
So there you have it my top 5 albums. Looking ahead to 2017 I am looking forward to/hoping for albums from Elbow, Ed Sheeran, Kylie and Josh Groban.
Top 5 Songs
- Rachel Platten – Stand By You
- Choir of the Invictus Games – Flesh and Blood
- The 1975 – Nana
- Adele – When We Were Young
- Charlie Puth – One Call Away
Looking back at previous years my top 5 songs usually reflect the way I was feeling in that particular year and this year is no different. At number 1 it is Rachel Platten with ‘Stand By You’. I just loved this song and it picked me up on my low days. I love the following lyrics :
“And hey, if your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open too”
“Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through hell with you”
It really helped me this year and is deservedly at number 1. At number 2 it is the Choir of the Invictus Games. This was set up my Gareth Malone and was a great TV show and just as emotional as ever. The song was written for the 2016 Invictus Games and is based on the experiences of members of the choir. Although I have no army experience the lyrics did hit home with how I was feeling particular the lines:
“Don’t turn your eyes away
And leave me in the dark
Don’t turn your eyes away
I have been strong
I have been weak
And I’ve had days I could not breath”
It sums up 2016 perfectly for me. There were times when I was feeling great and other times when I was struggling and could not ‘breathe’ and be myself. Such powerful and emotive lyrics. At number 3 it is The 1975 with their song ‘Nana’. It is about the singers nana dying and it brought back memories for me. When I was little when I was having a bad time I always went to my nanna and she made me feel better. In 2016 when I was having a bad time I needed her more than ever and she wasn’t there and it was around this time that I first heard this song and it brought me to tears. At number 4 it is Adele with When We Were Young’. This was just a great song and is about remembering all the things you did when you were young. I am only 35 (almost 36) but it seems a lifetime ago already. Finally at number 5 it is Charlie Puth with ‘One Call Away’. It is about being there for someone who needs you. This was what I needed in 2016 but it also reminds me that because I was low and didn’t see when others needed that call or pick me up. So there you have it my top 5 songs of 2016.
Top 5 Books
- The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
- The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
- Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
- Proud by Gareth Thomas
- Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
2016 was a better year for reading for me as I read 4 more books than 2015. I read more non-fiction than before and read a number of books from the same author which I usually try not to do in a year but this year I read 2 by Matt Haig and William Shakespeare and then 5 by Roald Dahl. So at number 1 it is the Christmas story by Matt Haig ‘The Girl Who Saved Christmas’. This is a follow-up to his other Christmas book ‘A Boy Called Christmas’. It really got me into the festive spirit and are likely to be reread every year. This one stuck out because it was about the importance of hope and after the year we all had in 2016 I think it was just what I needed to read. At number 2 it is ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ by Joanna Cannon. You need to read this book. It is wonderful and I have recommended it to lots of people and everyone has felt the same after reading it. Seriously go get a copy. It reminded me a little of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and has a character who will just melt your heart. Please read and let me know what you think. At number 3 it is another Matt Haig but this time non-fiction ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’. I think this is probably one of the most important books anyone could read and every home should have a copy. In it Matt talks about how he coped with depression and stepping away from the edge. Although I haven’t been that bad many of the things he talks about I could relate to and it reassured me a lot that it could get better. So don’t be ashamed to buy or read this book because of the title. Read it and then get a copy for a friend or a colleague who you think might just need a bit of support. At number 4 it is ‘Proud’ by Gareth Thomas. This is Gareth Thomas’ autobiography where talks about his rugby career and about coming out and how he coped with that. He is very open and honest about it and shows it isn’t all easy. It is also a great book about leadership so useful for sport or business as well. Finally at number 5 it is another non-fiction book and it is ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. A few ago it was made into a film which I have seen and loved but the book really got me quite emotional. I remember reading it at lunchtime and to go somewhere quiet because I could feel myself getting upset. It is a great read to start the year off with. So there you have my top 5 books. I hope to read even more this year.
Top 5 TV Programmes
- Cold Feet
- The Musketeers
- Line of Duty
There were some good TV shows in 2016. Before I talk about the top 5 I want to mention that War & Peace and Planet Earth II just missed out. War & Peace was a great costume drama and Planet Earth II was beautiful to watch although I am still terrified of the racer snakes “Run Baby Iguana Run”. Anyway here are my top 5 TV shows. 2016 saw the return of Cold Feet. Sometimes when a show comes back it doesn’t work but in this case it was perfection. It made me laugh, cry and cheer and dealt with some tough issues. It also made me love Manchester even more. At number 2 it is ‘The Musketeers’. This was the final series and I think it wasn’t promoted as much as it deserved to be. After being messed around in series 2 with scheduling the BBC did it again with the final series which wasn’t fair. It was brilliant series and a perfect ending to it all. At number 3 it is ‘Class’. This the Dr Who spin-off by Patrick Ness. Now I wasn’t sure about this when I first heard about it but I loved it. It had echoes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but sprinkled with DR Who magic. It was also very dark and even more violent than Torchwood was. Still it filled the hole that Dr Who had left this year. I hope there is a second series especially the way it ends. At number 4 is the comedy ‘Mum’. This was a beautiful heartwarming comedy about a Mum (played by Lesley Manville) whose husband has died and focuses on how she copes with family life over a year. It is very understated but wonderful to watch and if you can catch up somehow then please do so. I look forward to the second series. Finally at number 5 it is ‘Line of Duty’. Now I am a bit late to this party as it is on its third series. I loved it and was on the edge of my seat all the way through. Just brilliant.
Top 5 Films
- Star Wars : Rogue One
- The Danish Girl
- Bridget Jones’ Baby
- Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
It hasn’t been too bad a year for films for me. I have struggled to find time to watch them at home but made the effort to see films as the cinema especially as there is new multi screen cinema in the town now. At number 1 it has to be ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’. I won’t spoil it but I will say it fits well in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It also works as one-off film so you don’t need to be a Star Wars fan to get it but if you are like me you will like all the nice little nods to the other films. At number 2 it is ‘The Danish Girl’ I saw this in January 2016. Brilliant performances by Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. A heartbreaking story though. At number 3 it is ‘Bridget Jones’ Baby’. Just good fun with some good performances. Yes it is very silly but I loved it. At number 4 it is ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’. Another spin-off but this time from the world of Harry Potter. I wasn’t expecting much from it but it really surprised me and much more than I thought it was going to be. It also means I can discover a new part of the Harry Potter world. Finally at number 5 it is ‘Ghostbusters’. I wasn’t going to see this as I don’t usually like remakes but this was done very well and the special effects really worked and added to the story. It also means I have found a film starring Melissa McCarthy that I actually like. So there you have my top 5 films of 2016. There are lots of films I am looking forward to seeing in 2017 such as ‘La La Land’, ‘Beauty & the Beast’, ‘Power Rangers’, ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Star Wars : Episode VIII’. Will any of these make it in to my top 5 films of 2017 find out next year.
Top 5 Live Acts/Performances
- No Man’s Land
- The Son’s of Pitches
- The Two Gentlemen of Verona
- The Weir
- A Tale of Two Cities
2016 was another year for the theatre for me. With my local theatre undergoing renovation work I visited different theatres around the country. At number 1 it is ‘No Man’s Land’. I saw this in Newcastle and it was a chance to see Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart on stage together. It was an odd play but brilliantly performed and an honour to see. At number 2 it is ‘The Son’s of Pitches’. This was my only gig this year. I loved the mix of comedy and music and how they involved the audience. At number 3 it is ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’. 2106 was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and I wanted to see some Shakespeare as well as perform in his plays. So when I went to Liverpool I got the chance to see ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ at the Everyman Theatre. This was exciting because it was a theatre that I have always wanted to go to and it was a play I didn’t know that well. I really liked it. Although a comedy it is very dark in places and at one point I nearly had to ask one of the actresses if she was ok after a very disturbing scene. At number 4 it is ‘The Weir’. I saw this in Edinburgh at the Royal Lyceum Theatre. This is a stunning theatre. Seriously if I lived in Edinburgh I would find an excuse to go to this theatre. The play was a ghost story which was perfect for a very cold Edinburgh evening in January. At number 5 it was ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. This was put on in Darlington in the leisure centre and the cast were all local but it was a professional company who put it together. It was brilliant and great to see such a talented cast who are all local (they put me to shame). It was very well adapted from the book as it isn’t easy to get across on stage but they managed it. So what will 2017 hold for live shows? I have a comedy night planned and Matthew Bourne later on in the year but that is it so far.
Top 5 Most Played Songs on my iPod
- Rachel Platten – Stand By You
- Choir of the Invictus Games – Flesh and Blood
- Jamie Lawson – Sometimes It’s Hard
- Adele – When We Were Young
- The 1975 – Nana
This list is very similar to my top 5 songs of the year so I will only talk about the change which is at number 3 and is Jamie Lawson ‘Sometimes It’s Hard’. This really did appeal to me in 2016. It helped me through some tough times should we say.
Top 5 Personal Disappointments/Setbacks
- Personal Wellbeing
- Still Living at Home
- Being Single
- My Weight
- Seeing the rise of fear/hate in society
I knew 2016 had been a tough year but only when putting this blog post together did I realise how bad I was. There were various reasons and my top 5 personal disappointments/setbacks were some of the things that contributed to it. At number 1 it is my personal wellbeing. I got as low as I have ever been. I think it was a combination of things but it all got to me and I wasn’t good to be around and even now it hurts to think back to how I was. But after a lot of tears and some time trying to love myself I have got to a better place in my life but still lots of work to do. At number 2 it is still living at home. This really got to me this year. I was in position where I wanted to leave but also wanted to wait to see how my Dad was first after his operation. I am sort of torn with needing to leave and get my own place but at the same time guilty I won’t be around to help out. All this has done so far has made me miserable so I do need to move out soon. At number 3 it is being single. I haven’t had many dates this year. Partly because of my confidence levels being low and if I was struggling to love myself then how could I let someone in to love me. Hopefully I can improve on this in 2017. At number 4 it is my weight. I really got out of shape in 2016. This then makes me feel bad about my body image which then effects my confidence and dating etc. So in 2017 I need to get fitter. Finally at number 5 it is seeing the rise of fear and hate in society. Don’t get me wrong I know we don’t live in utopia but events in 2016 have made me scared. Brexit, the growing support for the far right, Donald Trump becoming President have all shown the worst in people. I didn’t vote to leave the EU I wanted us to stay (still do)( and because of this I am made to feel bad by some people. As a gay man living in the UK a year or so ago I felt safe and lucky to be in a country where I could be myself now looking ahead to 2017 I don’t feel safe. I worry my rights will be taken away from me and I worry about my safety. In 2017 I want to see societies come together and stand up to the far right and just look out for each other.
Top 5 Personal Highlights
- Meeting Sir Ian McKellen
- PPRG Awards
- Winning the Bake Off at Work
- Weekend in Edinburgh
- Starting Chartership
OK now after being quite down in this post it is time to end the post on my top 5 personal highlights. At number 1 it was meeting Sir Ian McKellen. I met him after seeing ‘no Man’s Land’. He is a big role model to me and I wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to him for all the work he has done for the LGBT community. It was only a brief chat but it was a very special experience and a huge honour. At number 2 it is the PPRG Award. This was a team thing and to have played a part in that team was a privilege. Work doesn’t usually make me feel that emotional but at the conference listening to the presentation and hearing such lovely comments from other library professionals really really made me proud of what everyone had achieved. At number 3 it is winning the work bake-off. I didn’t expect it as there are amazing bakers at work. It really picked me up when I was having a bad time and made me realise I can do things. This year I will bake more because of it. At number 4 it is my weekend in Edinburgh. This was in the January after my birthday and although I went away later in the year to Liverpool the trip to Edinburgh really did a lot for me. I don’t quite know why but it really did maybe it was the snowy weather. Finally at number 5 it was starting Chartership. I have wanted to do this for so long but finally got around to starting it and it will keep me busy in 2017.
So there you have it my yea in lists. There are some sad things behind some lists but at least I can seem some good in the year. I am not sad to see the back of 2016 and want to say thanks to those who helped me through especially the tough months. Let’s see what 2017 will bring.