2019 - A RETROSPECTIVE
Updated: Jan 1
Gigs, vinyl, walks and other stuff that has shaped my year.
I’m sure I’m not alone in posting a retrospective of the year as it comes to a close. It’s become a ‘thing’ for many; a chance to look back and ponder the events of the previous 365 days, picking out the good, the bad and the plain ugly. Promising to ‘kick ass’ as we go into the new year as if the sudden switch from one day to the next will make all the difference. It’s a weird tradition, largely psychological I’m sure, but for so many of us it gives us the opportunity to signify both closure and new beginnings and that in itself is a wonderful thing.
In previous years my new year missive has been restricted to a few hundred words on Facebook, which also has a habit of throwing up your post from a few years previous as a reminder that you need to post again this year. This morning I was reminded of my post from the end of 2012 – god I was angry. It had been a particularly tough year I recall so all things considered 2019 hasn’t been too bad. In fact, 2019 was the year I started this blog; February 19th to be precise and looking back over my posts I think I achieved what I set out to do with it. It’s become a dumping ground for my often pointless thoughts and life commentaries and it’s gained a few readers who actually look forward to reading my nonsense. Some of the more controversial posts have even a gained a modicum of online traction and if my Mum had the faintest understanding of what ‘online traction’ is she’d be incredibly proud!
So, with Upstarts and Oligarchs being the UK’s number one lifestyle blog (let the boy dream – and don’t forget that this has been the year of ‘fake news’ so I’m at liberty to suggest such things!) I’m going to waffle on for a little longer than normal with my look back at the things that have shaped my year. Enjoy!
DID A FEW GIGS
About 100 this year in fact. For those that don’t know (where have you been?) I’m the bass player for T.Rextasy, the world’s leading tribute to Marc Bolan and T.Rex, and it’s a pretty big part of my life. About 1/3 of this year if we’re being pedantic so for me it’s a pretty big deal. As in the previous three and a bit years as part of this band it’s been bloody awesome and I count myself as one of the luckiest guys around doing something I love so much and being able to call it ‘my job’. I pretty much gave up all of my ‘consultancy’ commitments in 2019 to be become as near as damn it a full-time musician and it rocks. It’s a childhood dream come true and I’ll be eternally grateful to Danielz, John and Neil for giving me the opportunity to become a part of this awesome band.
Every year there have been highlights and stand-out gigs and 2019 has been no exception. There are too many individual moments to mention but a few that spring to mind are the somewhat unique gig at the Devil’s Arse in the Peak District, the sold out anniversary gig at the Islington O2 Academy where Marc Almond and Neal X joined us on stage and of course the run of 10 ‘acoustic with strings’ gigs with the fabulous Mavron Quartet - those that attended will agree with me that they were truly special. I remain flabbergasted at the dedication and support shown by all of those that come out to see us throughout the year – it is truly wonderful, thank you!
I shall end this year as I started it (and have done for the previous four years) on stage with the band at The Robin 2 in Bilston!
THE ADDICTION CONTINUES
Hi, my name is Rob and I’m addicted to vinyl. Yes, my obsession with vinyl continues and as highlighted in my Put the Needle on the Record blog I am a self-confessed vinyl junkie. I’ve spent many an hour (probably far too many an hour) hunting out old vinyl in charity shops and surfing the net for that rare or long-lost find. The collection has grown steadily over the year and I have every intention of continuing that into 2020 and beyond. Apart from all of the reasons covered in the aforementioned blog searching out vinyl really has been a voyage of musical discovery. The innate affordability of charity shop vinyl allows you to take a punt on stuff that looks interesting and this year’s musical revelation for me has to be Dory Previn. I picked up a copy of ‘Mythical Kings and Iguanas’ and ‘On my way to where’ from my favourite charity shop based purely on liking the cover artwork and the song titles. I’m so glad I did, her stuff is wonderful. As I’m writing this I’m also awaiting delivery of ‘Reflections in a mud puddle’ and ‘One a.m. phone calls’ that I hunted down on eBay over the Christmas period. Another highlight for me was picking up an immaculate copy of The Beatles ‘Revolver’ original mono pressing for just £2. Yes, £2, I kid you not – sometimes you just get lucky and that day I was indeed very lucky. My finds have been many and varied and I detail most of them on my various social media channels (detailed below) if you’re interested.
I’ve also picked up a few new vinyl releases over the year – not something I do that often so they have to be pretty special for me to add them to my collection. Notable additions have been ‘California Son’ by Morrissey (so good I wrote a blog post about it), ‘Free’ by Iggy Pop (absolutely wonderful) and of course the Record Store Day release of ‘bump’n’grind’ the Thunderwing Productions release of Marc Bolan and T.Rex session takes, working versions and mixes (a must for any Bolan fan).
There have been several vinyl related blog posts over the year where I discuss my Top 10 singles, Top 10 albums, Favourite Live albums along with albums that have shaped my life such as In the City, White Music and Mott. Give them a read if you feel inclined.
WALKING BACK TO ME
Readers of this blog and followers on social media will no doubt have noticed that I’ve also become pretty obsessed with walking this year. You can read the full story and find out why in my blog post These boots were made for walking. It’s definitely the new rock and roll as far as I’m concerned and it’s bought me so much pleasure over the year – not to mention the health benefits. I produced a couple of blog posts, the other of which you can read here if you like. They cover my first 10 walks that saw me go pretty much from sofa to 10km in a few weeks. I’m now enjoying much longer walks when time permits but any opportunity to get out and stretch the legs and clear the mind is welcome. I made a conscious decision to stop blogging about my walks on U&O and have plans for a specific walking blog in the future. I do cover most of them on social media if you’re interested as it does allow me the opportunity to dabble with photography and filters, something else I’m also becoming increasingly obsessed with!
My last walk of this year was just a few days ago along the rather splendid South West Coastal path visiting Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door – the walk up to Durdle Door is a little challenging but so worth it for the views that await. I plan to return there and do more very soon.
IN OTHER NEWS
I took the decision to stop eating meat on January 1st 2019. There was no real agenda, just a desire to be a bit healthier I guess. I’m still partial to a bit of fish but I’m about to celebrate a year of being pescatarian and I have no intentions of changing that. Many restaurants and supermarkets have significantly upped their vegetarian and vegan game in 2019 and I’m sure the trend will continue in 2020. It makes a meat-free life on the road so much easier! And, with the combination of increased excercise and my diet, I really do feel better than I did a year ago!
Boy oh boy has it been an ‘interesting’ year politically. I try not to involve myself in political discussion either online or among friends but this year’s shenanigans have, on occasion, had me hooked! The world it seems really has gone mad and the level of ‘sh*t fu*kery’ going on has been exceptional. As well as being a little tired and pi**ed off with everything that has been going on I’ve also been fascinated by all the fake news and the concept of ‘post-truism’ which I even felt inclined to write my Living in a post-truth world blog post about. I’ll leave it there though; I think we’ve probably all had more than our fill of politics for the year!
This blog has also given me the opportunity to talk openly about things that people often find hard to discuss. Writing my post about my ongoing battle with depression was challenging but the immediate response was phenomenal and made me realise that it really is ‘ok not to be ok’. If you’ve not yet read it, please take a few minutes of your time to give it a look. Pull yourself together lad made a difference to me and hopefully a few others. You might want to share it with someone you know that may be suffering.
Something else that has also been a major part of my life this year has been seeing my Dad’s increasing battle with dementia and the struggles that my parents are now experiencing in their later years (my Dad is 93 and my Mum 85). They’ve been married for over 60 years and their love for one another is a thing of beauty. My Mum’s only wish is to do as much as she can for my Dad but the struggles of living with dementia are proving increasingly difficult for both of them. It’s heart-breaking to see my real-life super-hero reduced to a frail and forgetful man who needs daily care and to witness the challenges my Mum now faces. I’m thankful that my life circumstances allow me to be there for them when time permits. I’m sure that 2020 will bring up even more challenges and I’m honestly not looking forward to them, but I know that with the help of family and friends we’ll get through it.
I’m blessed that I have a wonderfully loving and supportive family around me and spending time with them is something that is to be treasured. My wife continues to surprise with her incredible achievements as a ‘wedding guru’ (2019 really has been an astonishing year for her) and my two wonderful kids make me so proud in everything they do.
I’m not one for New Year resolutions; they inevitably get broken so I prefer to just forge ahead with a positive attitude and a desire to discover and experience new things that add to the rich tapestry of life. For 2020 I hope and wish for health and happiness and being able to spend more time with those I love. I wish the same for all of you reading this too!
If you’d like to keep up-to-date with all my gig, walking and vinyl shenanigans then catch me on social media as well as this blog: