ness talks about life

things i did not do in 2022

If I had a nickel for every event I organised in 2022 and missed … I’d have three nickels. That’s not a lot but it’s weird that it’s happened three times …

I MISSED A FLIGHT TO CARCASSONNE

Yeah, I could have gone to the France. (Bonjour! Voulez vous une baguette?) I had a cheap flight, and an airbnb booked – it was beautiful, a lovely little apartment up several flights of winding steps, overlooking the old town, with a cathedral at the very bottom of it all. A boulangerie right around the corner. I could have sat on a balcony, eaten pastries, and woven a story!

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

I did … none of those things.

The week before I was due to catch the short flight over to France two things (2) happened:

a) I began to feel a tiny, incy bit poorly

b) the feeling of dread began to climb

There was this very vivid mental image in my mind, you see – I hop on a plane and go to a country, find a ride from the airport to the apartment, walk deserted streets, forget to buy food because it’s too late, lie on the bed and perish of starvation. In the morning I wake, a Victorian waif, and sip water from a tap. Misery is my companion. Despair, my friend.

The vibes, I announced to any unfortunate person in my general vicinity, were off.

I released that I was an adult and thusly, I have autonomy. If I do not want to hop on a flight and butcher a beautiful language and be battered to death with a baguette – I did not have to.

This felt like a sudden and beautiful moment of self-realisation.

The plane took off. My seat, empty. The airbnb, cancelled.

(And it was a good thing too – I developed a filthy cold and had a redder nose than Rudolf himself. Forgive me, Rudolf! I’ll be guiding that sleigh tonight!)

I DID NOT SEE SPOCK

I say this with love, but I probably shouldn’t be permitted to buy tickets. To anything. You know, just no tickets in general. Step away. Don’t purchase.

And, in the dreadful occasion that I do purchase the tickets, I should also ensure that I have a method, a means, or a way – of getting a refund.

(I have not learned my lesson.)

A friend and I were going to go down to London to see Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Friar Tuck (David Harewood) in a play which probably was Very Serious and Important. I definitely was going for the cultural element, and not because I was determined to support Zachary Quinto in person.

We had a dream. We had a plan. We even had a parking space. And then strikes hit the railways and a dastardly cold struck my friend.

Reader, I tried to give those tickets to someone else. I did my very best. There were no takers. We couldn’t move the tickets without incurring extra cost, and we couldn’t get a refund, and if I made the trip on my own I would be driving at one am in the morning. No one wanted that. Especially me, Ness, who is very attached to the idea of being in bed and not on a motorway in the wee hours of the morning.

Alas, when the curtains opened there would have been two empty seats in Grand Circle Row F. But listen, dear actors and stage hands and theatre folk – we were there in spirit.

I messaged my friend: this play is moving me to tears.

He agreed, but mentioned that he couldn’t see the stage as someone’s head was in the way.

We were, in all probability, in our PJs, in our respective homes.

I DID NOT GO TO COMIC CON

… as you can tell, there is a theme here.

Having been to London Comic Con, dressed as Jason Todd and sporting the fakest and most wonderful of crowbars, it was obviously imperative to do it again. But this time? A friend and I were going to be dressed as hobbits.

How exciting! How thrilling!! We were going to look spectacular! The hobbitiest hobbits to ever hobbit! I began mental preparations to make the hobbit feet (and by ‘make’ I mean ‘buy’).

These plans did not last long.

‘What if,’ I asked my friend, ‘we went as ironic hobbits. With a white t-shirt that said “Hobbit” on it?’

She agreed.

I felt quite smug, as if I was a future hipster Hobbit. I could run around and demand if total strangers had eaten their second breakfast! What panache! What style!

but just imagine us, accosting everyone ‘HAVE THEY TAKEN THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD?’ and then being thrown out of comic con because our great wit proved to be too powerful

Those t-shirts, dear reader, were never made.

But no worries! We were still 100% going to comic con!! It would be grand! Great! Brilliant! It … did not quite happen.

There was a communications failure and the carrier pigeon I sent my friend was shot on its way to her. To exacerbate the matter, I had neglected to organise a) transport and b) apparel – assuming, of course, that magically and wonderfully these things would just … happen.

They did not. We live in a society.

The night before, a decision had to be made. When the morning of comic con dawned, I had a delightful lie-in.

(Sometimes, the best plans can be the cancelled ones.)


Believe it or not, the interrupted plans don’t worry me too much. Sometimes, the dream of going somewhere – that delicious, comforting feeling of something to look forward to – is worth the money itself.

(Is that what I say to comfort myself? Yes. Yes, it is.)

In Calvin & Hobbes, Calvin’s dad would probably say cancelled plans were character building or something, and you know what? I’d agree with him. I really did enjoy that lie-in.

What things didn’t you do in 2022?

ness talks about life

2022 – it happened

2022 was a year that happened. That’s an entirely accurate statement. No word of a lie. Things were done and doings were … thinged (?) Moving swiftly on …

WRITING

I have written two novellas, finished one fanfiction project (I have zero regrets), and started countless projects. I wish that I could have done more, but it hasn’t been my focus this year … and that’s okay.

Project If is changing form again. I think I’ve cracked the problem – the reason why I haven’t been able to look it in the eye for months, if not years. The genre is the problem. Humour is where I feel most comfortable, and I think if I concentrate on inserting that aspect into the book, I might actually end up with something I can be happy with. (And giggle about. Because I dearly love to giggle at my work. IT’S FUNNY DANG IT ALL. I WILL POINT YOU TO THE BOOK ABOUT TOXIC UNICORN MANURE. MY SENSE OF HUMOUR IS REFINED hahahahaha.)

ADVENTURES

I’ve been very blessed to have had lots of adventures this year. I’ve written about one or two of them on here.

bruges was beautiful, like a postcard come to life

To get to spend time with the people I love? To watch my nieces and nephews grow up? To just hang with friends and family? To be a part of their adventures – big or small? To cheer on my best friend as she went on a big-awesome-amazing adventure of her own? To watch Rings of Power with my brothers and sister-in-law and terrorise them all with my firm devotion to Adar AKA Father of the Year? My bank account may never be heaving but I’m rich and I defy anyone who says otherwise.

READING

Storygraph tells me I’ve read 46 books this year. To read the list of books is to time travel, in a way. There’s a few comic books on there – may I recommend Batman Adventures and also Batman: Curse of the White Knight?

a dear friend sent me this book and it made me cry so please read it too

There’s a spattering of non-fiction, Backstabbing For Beginners by Michael Soussan was incredibly immersive … and eye opening … and depressing. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman gave me a dose of reality and a wish to make the most of the time I’ve been given.

It would be hard to choose my very favourite book this year, but I have to say, listening to the Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan was wild and I would 100% recommend. I also discovered Mo Dao Zu Shi, a story that is living proof that you can cram maximum tropes into one narrative with maximum impact and it is 10/10 inspirational to writers everywhere.

Oh! Hot tip: if you ever read The Communist Manifesto, I’d suggest reading Animal Farm first. Also pronouncing bourgeoisie is one of my favourite things to do.

MOVIES

RRR – I watched it. I stayed up until 1:30 am to finish it and what a wild ride. Reader, I was consumed. It was a musical, an essay on the horrors of British Colonialism, a bromance, an Intro To The Care And Keeping of Tigers 101, Action Scenes That Tom Cruise WISHES He Was Part Of, and just … perfection. I’m going to be watching it again with a friend and I cannot wait.

it is magnificent

I went to see The Batman three (3) times and I have zero (0) regrets. The OST moved me to tears (‘It’s the cellos, Mum!’) and everything – everything – was a feast for a dedicated Batman: The Animated Series fan. Please watch it and you’ll agree with me that this Batman? He’d deffo adopt an orphan and think it 100% normal behaviour to let him run amok on the streets as Robin.

bat/cat 4 lyfe

You can’t really mention Batman without also mentioning the horrible loss of Kevin Conroy this year; he will always be the definitive voice of Batman, and was a thoroughly wonderful human being. Batman will always bear the mark of his legacy.

MUSIC

clearly ambiguous is a prestigious two-person music group band thing of which I am a half. Heh. Read that sentence again. I don’t like to brag, but we had twenty-two monthly listeners the other day. Which, you know, is one more than twenty-one. We’re kinda famous like that.

I don’t have any excuse for this, really. Except that it was lots and lots of fun to do and now I’m blessed with knowing that I have a cackle that could be called creepy. This self-knowledge is very enlightening. Someone give me flight clearance, cause I am ascending.

LIFE

They say that time flies but listen, it doesn’t. There was so much muchness in 2022 my head boggles with it. I look back on it all and I require smelling salts ASAP please and thank you! I’ve learned a lot – in the conventional sense – I’ve always kept educating myself because oh heck yeah, it’s fun. (The mitochondria is the something of something.) But in the rest? About life? I feel like I know less. Logic? WHERE YOU AT?

2022 wasn’t always an easy year, but how can I look back on it with anything but fondness, because I was lucky enough to spend it with those I care about?

me, looking as human as ever

And to you, yes you, reading this post – thank you! I hope you have a wonderful new year. Have courage, and be kind – to yourself and to others. I’ll try and do the same.

Happy New Year!

books, ness talks about life

a golden autumn // a memory

Autumn was bursting with gold and browns. The amber tree leaves, glowing, lit by pure sunlight is a snapshot in my mind.

also my friend took a photo so viola here the scene be!

I was wearing too many layers and had to peel off my waterproof jacket and under jacket. There was no sign of rain, the sun was out and shining so warmly you could almost believe it wasn’t autumn at all.

celebrity sighting

The English countryside is a gentle thing – rolling hills, rising and falling dotted with stone walls, clusters of trees, farms houses tucked away in corners, winding roads, old churches, all of it spread out like a quilted blanket pinned to a tumbling earth … I adore it.

This walk reminds me of Sutcliff’s writings – the way she summons a Britain that is both familiar and unfamiliar, an echo of a long ago time and also a glimpse of a hidden one you can still discover.

I spent some time requesting my best friend listen to the audiobook of The Lantern Bearers. ‘It’s just like this!’ I told her … in rather more words than that.

In November, you see, I finished The Lantern Bearers again and it was just as good – I ended it with a lump in my throat and a burning in my eyes. It’s my book; I’ve read it as a girl and I’ll continue reading it until I’m an old woman and sometimes – when I wander out into the countryside, on my own or with friends, I’ll catch sight of the Britain she describes.

books, ness talks about life

there were no dukes but there was ramses: london, a trip

So I went to London and I saw (1) dead squirrel and (3) mice.

But I didn’t just see the glorious, native wildlife. It was time to see The Phantom of the Opera again, and then – The Lion King. It is difficult to describe with mere words just how much I adored watching the Phantom. When the organ first thunders its notes, if I was a dramatic soul, I would surely have fainted away.

I am a very, very serious being, so I silently battered my niece’s arm to express my joy instead.

The Lion King was very creative but I think it was unfortunate that I’d so recently seen the Phantom. It suffered in comparison.

And then, of course, it was time to hang out with my dear friends in the British Museum. Someone had to check my bag; to make certain I wasn’t smuggling priceless artefacts into the Museum, obviously. They didn’t find any artefacts, but they did find my change of clothes. One day, I swear, those will be artefacts too. My gosh, I’m ahead of my time.

My main squeeze, Marcus Aurelius, was looking fine but couldn’t spend lots of time with me due to scheduling conflicts. Meditation, and all that.

I went to see my dude, Ramses, and but many, many people rudely interrupted us by staring at him. Guys, he’s shy. Have some respect. (He tried to do his whole stony gaze thing. It didn’t help.)

I hung out with some mummies too and we had a nice little chat about life, death, and how their internal organs were out, and mine were in.

The Elgin Marbles weren’t able to be seen, so perhaps we’ve finally given them back to Greece.

fig 1.1 the absence of dukes

Afterwards, of course we had to visit St James’ Park and Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. You know, my extensive research in Regency novels had led me to believe that there would be eligible dukes and earls everywhere – left, right, and centre. I had concluded that you could barely take a single step without tripping over them.

Well guess what?

There were none.

Disgusted. I was disgusted.

Believe it or not, there was also time to browse two or three bookstores. I bought The Witness for the Dead, which is the sequel to my favourite book – The Goblin Emperor. I have finished it now and it was good, but, like The Lion King – it suffered by the comparison with its predecessor.

In Convent Gardens, it rained and rained and rained. I crammed myself into a little shop and queued to buy an umbrella. It was, I suppose, a very British visit to London.

ness talks about life, ness talks books

endurance, and the tragic woe of the library computers being down

let’s time travel a little …

I’m in a busy coffee shop because the computers in the library are down and I can’t write the perfectly thrilling sci-fi novella series that is currently filling my brain.

(An integral part of my work day – nipping into the library and writing during my lunchtime – has been horribly disturbed. No one asked my permission. I am bitter.)

But, in a smooth segue, another part of my work day has recently ended – listening to Astronaut Scott Kelly talk in a dry monotone about space for 11 or more hours as I drove to and from work.

At first, I was dubious. Wasn’t sure I could last. Wasn’t sure I even liked the audiobook. Reader, I was very, very wrong. Not only did I enjoy it, I may have loved it? I like the dry monotone now? WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME?

Also I know so much about being an astronaut now. I feel fully prepared to strap myself to a rocket and shoot to the ISS.

(NASA? CALL ME. I’M READY)

Endurance flip-flops between Kelly’s one year stay on the ISS and the life journey it took to get there. And you know what? It is, to borrow a phrase from Spock, fascinating.

It was a difficult road and it is told in meticulous detail. The grit and determination it took can’t be understated. The perseverance required was inspiring.

It also sounds exhausting – the one track, driving push to reach your goal. But Kelly did it. He managed it. And he wrote a book and read it to me, personally, in the car. For two weeks.

I’d better vamos, the lunch hour is almost up. There is a couple on a lunch date sitting at the table next to me. My coffee waffle is eaten. Ice cream for lunch? Yep. That happened.

Zero regrets.

Also I tried to take a picture of my lunch and the flash was on and I can never come here again. The end. Have a good day.

it is an embarrassing moment, but using the lessons I’ve so recently learned – I didn’t give up. Look! The carcass of my lunch!

Wait. Forget that. There is a man cradling what can only be a chihuahua in a jumper on his lap. I must come here again. Always. Forever and ever.