Turn of the decade

Today is the day that we say goodbye to the 2010s and look forward to the 2020s. What will it bring? Hopefully the music will be better (I’ll be doing a whole post about that in a few days’ time).

As such, it was wholly appropriate (I feel anyway) that I spent the day playing with tech from a totally different decade. Dad tested the old five-and-a-half-inch floppies in the drive for the BBC Micro, and they worked! I’ve now identified all the old games on the disk, which was a real blast from the past. There are games on there that I haven’t even thought about for thirty years.

I’m having a quiet evening in with the family for my first sober Hogmanay, and it feels great. I’m looking forward to welcoming in 2020 with alcohol-free fizzy wine and Dad’s traditional Hogmanay pizza, and I’m also very excited about doing my first ever New Year’s Day double parkrun tomorrow morning.

Target Practice, BBC Micro, 1983
Not an OOTD: Target Practice, a Micro game from 1983. I couldn’t quite work out the controls for this one but it looks nice!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tomohito Nishiura – ‘Searching For Clues’
Kuana Torres Kahele, James Ford Murphy and Napua Greig-Nakasone – ‘Someone To Lava’
Blur – ‘End Of A Century’
Travis – ‘The Last Laugh Of The Laughter’

End-of-decade shoes

I still have all the shoes I was wearing at the end of each decade so far in my life. Because I am that much of a hoarder.

On Hogmanay 1989, I was wearing my brand-new bumblebee slippers, which had been a Christmas gift from my Grandad MacLeod. They’re not exactly party shoes, but then I was only four (very nearly five). I was very excited about staying up for the bells for the first time though!

1989 bumblebee slippers
My bumblebee slippers, thirty years later.

On Hogmanay 1999, I wore a pair of silver Barratts sandals (super ’90s with minimal straps and a blade heel). I’d bought them specially for the millennium. It was the first year that I took in the bells with my friends instead of my family, drinking Bacardi Breezers and shots of tequila, which feels very grown-up when you’re fourteen (very nearly fifteen). It felt like the start of a really special phase of life, which in a way it was, but it was also the start of something that turned out to be quite dark and destructive. I suppose that’s teenage turning points for you.

Barratts sandals, 1999
My Barratts millennium sandals – a bit worse for wear twenty years later.

On Hogmanay 2009, I wore my Vivienne Westwood Lady Dragons, which had just come out that year and were all the rage among shoe fans. They cost about half of what the Lady Dragon range costs today, but they were still a hugely extravagant expense for a broke recent graduate, and so I absolutely treasured them and looked after them very carefully. As a result, they’re still in good condition, unlike my very battered Barratts millennium shoes! At twenty-four (very nearly twenty-five) I felt a bit aimless, but didn’t really want my life to change – I took in the bells in the same pub where I’d been drinking since I was sixteen, and thought that I would be doing that forever.

Vivienne Westwood Lady Dragons, 2009
My Vivienne Westwood Lady Dragons – still much-loved favourites a decade on.

It’s Hogmanay 2019, and for tonight I have got some very special shoes that I’ve been saving for my one-year soberversary. My soberversary isn’t for another five days, but I thought it’d be okay to wear the shoes early seeing as it is the end of a decade and all. When I was younger and extremely broke, I adored beautiful designer shoes, and would have killed for a pair of Christian Louboutins, but I was never anywhere close to being able to afford them. In late 2018, I was able to buy a pair in a sale, and, knowing that I was about to quit drinking, decided to save them as a gift to my future self for when I’d managed a whole year sober. They are very definitely not outdoor shoes – I would only ever wear them in the house so as not to spoil the trademark red soles – but that’s okay, seeing as these days my preferred place to take in the bells is at my parents’ house, in the same room where I said goodbye to the ’80s thirty years ago. At thirty-four (very nearly thirty-five), it’s nice to come full circle.

Christian Louboutin 'Decoltish' shoes, 2019
My long-awaited Louboutins – quite possibly the most special shoes in my life so far 🙂

My very first New Year resolution for 2020 is actually a New Decade resolution – for the entirety of the decade, I will not be buying shoes (except for necessary purchases like running shoes), because I already have far more than any sane person could possibly need, and the ones I do have are well-made and timeless. I will make an exception in December 2029, when I will find myself another nice pair of end-of-decade shoes. In the meantime, I will just enjoy my existing collection!

Hogmanay 1989
Some pictures from Hogmanay 1989. Note the bumblebee slippers in the lower right corner, and me whirling around in my Superman cape!
Hogmanay 2019
Same room, same me. Not the same shoes. Or the same spider plant!
Four decades of Hogmanay shoes
Four decades of Hogmanay shoes!

New Year’s Resolutions 2019: the outcome

So, on the 1st of January 2019, I wrote a post about all my resolutions for the year. Let’s see how those turned out…

February 2019
Some winter snow in February.

1. Finish sorting out the house contents.

Uh… not a good start to the list. I don’t think I got anything done in this area. It’s now a resolution for 2020, and apparently one that I need to prioritise.

2. Write 500,000 words in 2019…

I absolutely smashed this one, writing approximately 875,000 words in 2019.

3. …and edit and pitch all the words I’ve already written.

I pitched my 2011 middle grade/young adult novel to twenty more agents, and none of them bit, though a couple did say they liked it. I also submitted poetry and short stories to a lot of magazines and competitions – again there was no success there. I just have to keep trying in 2020. I’ve already identified the novel project I’m going to be pitching this next year, and it should be in a submittable state by the spring.

4. Take weekends off.

Hahaha! Well, I’ve been slightly more successful than usual in not doing day job work at weekends, but only slightly. Writing and admin is another story – the to-do list just slips and slips and slips throughout the week and it’s never all done by Friday. I’m not really sure if this is something that can ever be changed.

5. Buy fewer clothes.

I was pretty successful in this area! I only bought stuff I actually needed (well, maybe the Duran Duran t-shirts weren’t exactly necessary, but they’re very nice). I don’t even feel the need to go out to every single vintage fair anymore.

6. Run a marathon.

Done and dusted! Of course, circumstances conspired to ensure that I’ll be doing it a second time in 2020…

7. Perform some of my poetry in public.

I was convinced that this one wouldn’t happen, but it did – eight times! I don’t even feel nervous about doing it anymore, which would have seemed totally impossible to me this time last year.

8. Get sober.

I got sober on the 5th of January 2019, and so I am very nearly at my one-year anniversary. While I’m very proud of myself for getting this far, I recognise that sobriety is a lifelong process, and so I can’t get complacent about it or think that the work is done. I’ll continue to utilise the great online and offline support communities that I’ve found, and to take more care of my own mental health.

9. Get back into the habit of music practice.

Rather optimistically, I thought I’d be able to make a multi-instrumentalist of myself in 2019. I’ve only really had time for my ukulele, but I’m really pleased with how it’s gone. I’ve done three terms of classes at the Sage Gateshead, moving from the absolute beginner to the beginner to the intermediate class, and with the intermediate class I really feel that I’ve found my level. Looking forward to class starting again next week! I also love that I can just find tabs online and teach myself new songs.

10. Actually play some videogames.

This didn’t really happen until about September, but I have been able to get some decent videogaming time in during the last few months of the year. It’s something I love, and I have lots of new ones to play, so hopefully there’ll be even more of this in 2020!

Plus some unexpected bonus achievements…

The first unexpected thing I did this year was buying my car in May and properly getting back into driving again! I’d been meaning to buy a car for years, but I’d been hugely procrastinating about it because it seemed so complicated and I’d always been such a nervous driver before. Having a calmer temperament now that I’m sober has really helped with my driving, and I feel much more confident about it now that I’m getting so much practice in.

The second was starting to learn to code in the autumn. It had always been something I was interested in, due to my twin loves of retro stuff and videogames, but it was only this year that I finally got into it thanks to some of the ’80s Twitter accounts I follow discussing the Adventuron system (for creating illustrated ’80s-style text adventure games) in August. I was able to take part in a couple of game jams in the autumn and improve my game development skills, and I even wrote an Adventuron game for NaNoWriMo (or half of one, anyway – I’ll be finishing it in the first part of 2020, along with a few other games I have ideas for). I also started learning to program in BASIC in preparation for getting the BBC Micro up and running again. I have a lot more coding goals for the next year, but I’ll discuss those in detail in my New Year Resolutions 2020 post tomorrow!

Feeling a bit heavy

A bit of a Slimming World saga this evening. The website had advertised the usual Edinburgh group I go to as being on from 4pm to 8pm tonight, so I merrily trotted along, only to find the venue in darkness. I texted the consultant to find out what was going on, and it turned out that the website was wrong (she was very apologetic) and the group was happening in a totally different part of town! I considered driving across to it myself, but as it turned out, Dad was going out anyway to see if he could move his car from one parking area to another and so gave me a lift.

After all that, I don’t even want to say how much weight I’ve piled on over Christmas. At least I’m still going to group and keeping track of it!

Otherwise, I’ve mainly spent today planning out my marathon training for the next four months. All that running will certainly help get the Christmas weight off.

Slimming World 2020 book
Not an OOTD: I did pick up the annual Slimming World New Year motivation book. Just reading it makes me feel a bit healthier!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tomohito Nishiura – ‘Carnival Night’
Tomohito Nishiura – ‘Puzzles’
Lightwood Games – ‘Block-A-Pix Theme’
Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Unflinchable Courage’

Monster fighting

Geth and I are planning on the New Year’s Day parkrun double on Wednesday, so this morning we went for a drive so as to make sure that we know where we’re going. After that, we headed round to Kieran and Lisa’s for an afternoon of boardgaming. It was nice to get a game of Eldritch Horror in for the first time in a while (complete with occasional encouragement from the wee ones) and to catch up with Sharpy for the first time this Christmas period.

A very quiet day tomorrow, although I will be facing the music at Slimming World in the afternoon.

Call To Adventure
Not an OOTD: our Christmas present from Sharpy and Steph was a new boardgame for the collection! Looking forward to trying this one.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Robson & Jerome – ‘I Believe’
Kuana Torres Kahele, James Ford Murphy and Napua Greig-Nakasone – ‘Someone To Lava’
Tomohito Nishiura – ‘Puzzles’

Full century!

I finally did my 100th parkrun this morning! I wasn’t very organised about it and didn’t have a badge or a balloon or anything, but I’m so glad I finally got to do it, and it was a tourist run at Oriam, which… will be a lovely course in the summer (it was a bog today!). I’ll do a proper post about it soon.

It’s Mum and Dad’s annual Christmas music session this afternoon, so I’ll be helping Mum to get the food prepared in the kitchen. Always nice to hear the tunes.

Will be out and about again tomorrow, but after that I’ll be having a quiet couple of days before things get hectic again for New Year.

100th parkrun at Oriam
Sort of an OOTD: it was the last ever outing for my parkrun 50 top! Hoping that the 100 top won’t take too long to reach me…

Today’s earworm playlist:

Sam Fonteyn – ‘Pop Looks Bach (Ski Sunday Theme Tune)’

All the colours

Mum and I went out to have our nails done for her 70th birthday present today. I have to keep my nails short and stubby for ukulele playing these days, but they still look very nice post-manicure!

Other than that, I’ve just been playing my 3DS. There’s also been some excitement going on with Dad getting some of the old DOS games fired up, so I may have a go at some of them (plus of course the BBC Micro is ready to play with too!).

Tomorrow Geth and I are trying a new parkrun. Touristing was not originally the plan for my 100th, but that’s the way it’s worked out. It’s not an ideal time of year for it, really – normally you celebrate a parkrun milestone with cake, but at Christmas time there’s so much cake going on already!

Nails freshly done
Not an OOTD: Mum and I have new nails. Mine are the silver and hers are the bright pink 🙂

No earworm playlist today as nothing got stuck in my head!

Game boxes

Boxing Day for me, traditionally, is about playing with my new toys, and this year has been no exception. I’ve put some of my Christmas money into my Nintendo eShop account in order to buy a few shiny new games. I’ve also had some much-appreciated time today to play some of my older ones that have been neglected.

Mum and I are going out for a manicure tomorrow (it’s her belated 70th birthday treat), which will be nice!

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
Not an OOTD: have dug out a couple of Professor Layton games on my 3DS. These will be among the many things keeping me quiet for the next week and a bit 🙂

Today’s earworm playlist:

Traditional – ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’
Tim Minchin – ‘White Wine In The Sun’
The Waitresses – ‘Christmas Wrapping’

Phone Box Thursday: A971, Bixter

(Or perhaps ‘Phone Boxing Day’? Yes? Yes? No?)

This is another phone box from Shetland that Mum and Dad found while they were out for a drive this summer.

Red phone box
Red phone box, A971, Bixter, 7th August 2019.

(Coordinates 60°25’32.3″N, 1°40’24.3″W.)

It’s interesting to compare the Google Street View image (which is probably about a decade old – the Google cars don’t visit rural Scotland very often!) with the photo from this summer. The paint on the phone box needs a touch-up, and the nearby bench has been painted red and moved to sit next to the phone box.

What’s even more interesting, however, is comparing both images with this photo from the family archives, taken in July 1991:

Bixter Post Office, 1991
Here’s Mum dragging a four-year-old Malcolm into Bixter Post Office. That bench was around back then too!

The phone box was a lot more well-kept twenty-eight years ago. I suppose it was probably seeing a lot more use!

To round off this Phone Boxing Day post, Anne recently sent me a link to a nice Christmas update about the Rainford phone box she’d photographed for me earlier this year:


I have so many more phone boxes to share with you all in 2020. Thanks for following along so far!

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post for festive greetings today. Have had a lovely day and am excited about having a relaxed Boxing Day tomorrow!

Christmas jumpers
Sort of an OOTD: Geth and I enjoying Christmas Day in our new Christmas jumpers. It’s Geth’s third Star Wars Christmas jumper, whereas my ’80s-style Frankie Goes To Hollywood Katharine Hamnett knockoff homage sweatshirt is the first Christmas jumper I’ve ever had in adulthood!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Harry Connick Jr. – ‘When My Heart Finds Christmas’