Monday, 29 December 2014

Year in review

It's Abbie's 30th birthday today. It strikes me that this is very much the year of the zero birthdays. My Mum was 70 yesterday. My Dad, and Nathan's father were 70 in July. Nathan and I, and just about everyone else we know were 40 at some stage this year. Abbie, of course, also got married in 2014, so it's rather nice to know that we'll always share that particular anniversary. If one of us forgets how long we've been married, we can always ask the other!

Everyone on Facebook is currently attaching a "Year in Review" post to their timeline. The nerds who run Facebook have found a way to extract the most talked-about moments of a person's online year, and have stuck them all in a fancy-looking bespoke document, which, unsurprisingly, people are sharing with the world. It's become the modern-day equivalent of the Christmas card "round Robin." Of course, its success rather depends on a person regularly posting self-congratulatory statuses and photographs on Facebook. I don't know how the good stuff gets siphoned away from the posts about doom and gloom. If certain friends of mine had their Facebook statuses analysed, their year in review would consist of nothing but desperate midnight screams for sympathy and oblique attention-grabbing statements like, "Now I understand the meaning of true misery..." These open-ended statements are usually followed by about ten "friends" offering up platitudes like, "hugs, babe, things will get better soon." No-one, of course, ever bothers to establish what was wrong in the first place, and a thread of mawkish, cliched sentiment is usually signed off by the original postee saying, "I'm so blessed to have such amazing friends. You guys are awesome. I feel completely humbled."

Here's a word of advice to actors reading this blog. People like me often check Facebook when contemplating whether or not to offer a person a role. I vetted the entire cast of Brass during the audition process. What you opt to publish on Facebook and Twitter says a great deal about your personality - and your levels of intelligence - so do watch what you write!

My 2014 started with a trip to Yorkshire to see Nathan in pantomime. I took the lovely Cindy with me, and simultaneously introduced her to the joys of Haworth, York and Leeds.

January continued with a glorious trip to the Dominican Republic which gave Nathan and me a blast of much-needed Caribbean sunshine and a shedload of laughter.

Two months later, on March 29th, we got married in a televised musical, which remains, to this day, the most significant single event of my life. The wedding was nominated as the Guardian newspaper's TV moment of 2014, and won a prestigious Grierson Award.

The wedding somehow morphed into Brass. There was a trip to France with the creative team, a workshop week, and then a flurry of intense and insane writing activity as I developed orchestrations and re-wrote the script over and over again.

Brass performed for a week in August at the Leeds City Varieties Theatre, and, completely against all odds, and with the support of theatre critic Mark Shenton, won the UK Theatre Award for best musical production. It was an extraordinary honour. I owe a great debt to Jeremy from the National Youth Music Theatre for not just giving me the opportunity to write the piece, but for trusting me to do it the way I felt it needed to be done.

There were summer holidays in Derbyshire with my surrogate family of university friends and 40th birthday celebrations in London, Avebury and Cambridge.

The autumn saw us honeymooning in San Francisco, with only a brief bout of pneumonia marring what was otherwise the most perfect trip.

I entered another intense period of writing in October and November, working on The Man in the Straw hat for the Fleet Singers, which will be performed in April.

December become about prepping the cast recording of Brass, the sessions for which begin first thing tomorrow morning and continue into 2015.

So I exit the year feeling upbeat and positive with my fingers firmly crossed that the new year will bring new adventures and successes. That said, I can't think there will ever be another year like 2014.

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