I returned to London in mid-February a different person — happier, healthier, more relaxed (to the point of being Zen like) and motivated about life!
So much has happened since then. I've been to Ireland (twice) — for St Patrick's Day, DublinSwell and Bloomsday — and visited the UAE again (to avoid the Royal wedding). Closer to home, I spent a weekend in Deal, Kent, for a 60th birthday celebration, a week in Camber Sands, Sussex, for some R&R, a day trip to Warwick (to visit a disappointing castle) and a day trip to Manchester (to see a friend).
I regained my fitness, lost 9kg in weight and dropped a dress size. I changed my diet to include more fruit (and less junk food) and in the process, somewhere along the line, my psioratic arthritis went into remission. (There's a six-month supply of medication, bought before I went to China, still sitting in the cupboard relatively untouched.)
My book blog went from strength to strength, and I started getting invited to all kinds of book events, including Vintage Publishing's 21st birthday, Jonathan Cape's Booker Prize night party and Faber's crime fiction party. I've met a bunch of authors — and interviewed some of them too. And I had a blast being a member of KevinfromCanada's Shadow Giller Prize jury!
I've read about 100 books (no exaggeration), including James Joyce's masterpiece Ulysses (I loved it), and acquired at least 100 more — and then some.
I've seen a bunch of films at the cinema (The Guard, Senna, Animal Kingdom, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Closer to the Edge 3D) and gone to several live music gigs (Neil Finn, Christy Moore, Mary Coughlan, Peter Gabriel, Pierce Turner).
Without looking for work, work came looking for me — and in June I accepted a contract to work on a magazine where I had previously been a staff member (2002-05). The planned six-week stint as acting chief sub editor and production editor ended up lasting for four months — and I loved it. I'm now freelancing (writing, subbing, production) — and am available for hire if you need someone reliable, accurate, quick and thorough.
Finally, I've caught up with my parents on three separate occasions on three separate continents (don't say we are not a well travelled family) — and have been playing tour guide this past week, taking them to all kinds of places, including Hampton Court Palace, Abbey Road and Temple Church.
What will the next year hold? Who knows. But if it is as anywhere as eventful, interesting and fun as the past year, then I really can't wait...
[Please note, this is the positive spin version — shitty stuff has happened too, but I'm not about to share it here.]