Monday, 18 January 2016

2015

I made a load of notes for some kind of Review of 2015 to post on here but they were forgotten until now.  So here it is, a little late but what the fuck?

Cricket.  The World cup was a farce, England didn't have a chance and were embarrassing.  New Zealand were superb but the bloody Aussies won.  From that point our ODI form improved beyond measure and we played as well as any team in the world, for the first time in years I actually took more than a passing interest in England's one day matches and this will continue for as long as this neew attacking style of play lasts.  There is a World T20 competition coming up soon and on recent form, England are in with a good chance.

Test cricket was inconsistent in 2015; a drawn series in the West Indies was a moral victory for the hosts but the drawn home series against a good Kiwi side was better for England.  But could we really compete with the in form Aussies?  Yes we could do more than compete, we could beat them.  The win in Cardiff set up the series, the bounce back win at Edgbaston was brilliant but Trent Bridge and Broad's 8-15 will be remembered forever, undoubtedly the cricketing highlight of the year.  The UEA against Pakistan was a tough tour but England played OK in defeat, if only we had a spinner we could have won.

As ever my CD collection continues to expand at a steady rate.  My favourite new releases in no particular order.
Leftfield - Alternative Light source, superb electronic dance music, as good as anything out there. Charlatans - Modern Nature, of my favourite bands of the nineties only the Charlatans and James continue to make fresh music.  This is a really good record with a couple of absolute belters on it.
Eels - Live at the Royal Albert Hall, the perfect live recording.  But I may be biased because I was there.

Gigs

Hardcore Punk started the year of, Fucked up, somewhere in in London, a good start to the year., noisy, exhilerating and damn good fun.
 Leftfield at the Forum- Fantastic, old school dance all night!
The Latitude festival was not as good as 2013 or 2014 but still brilliant.  Highlights, Vaccines were the stars of the weekend.  Short, sharp, singalong Punk tunes.  Brilliant fun! Charlatans were good but the festival set was too short, Noel Gallagher (who was much better than expected), Seasick Steve, who I've waited a long time to see.
We saw the Charlatans again in December, this time at Norwich, very good and nice to see the full set including SPG which always gets me emotional.

 I must read about one book a week on average and I can't remember half the titles.  I love reading.  There is a certain feeling that I get at the end of a good book.  There is an exhilaration as I near the end, I've travelled the road to completion but this is tempered by a knowledge that I have to leave the world created by the author.  This was once a "Books I've read lately" blog but I can't write proper reviews without giving the story away and I don't have time to even attempt it

As usual I read plenty of Crime fiction by the likes of Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly  and Elly Griffiths, I like pretty much everything these authors have published.  Stand out's from this year are Connelly's 'Burning Room' which features Harry Bosch chasing down a cold case and it really is a cracker.  Elly Griffith's latest 'the Ghost Fields' is pretty good and she has also introduced us to another crime solving team; Stephens & Mafesto based just after the war, so war, so good.

I love Irvine Welsh's novels and this year he brought out a belter, "Sex lives of Siamese twins" is a really good story and I didn't have a clue where Welsh was taking me and didn't expect where I ended up.  It's hilarious and the ending is brilliant.  I'm looking forward to another one from Irvine Welsh this spring.  Another really funny book is "Look who's back" by Timur Vermes.  The premise is Hitler wakes up in Berlin in 2013 and as he appears in public people assume he is a brilliant comedy actor.  The result is a brilliant satire.

I re read Harper Lee's classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" and it is every bit as beautiful and brilliant as I remembered from my school days.  I'll get a copy of the recent sequel when it appears in paperback.
I read a couple of books by Paulo Coelho, "Brida" started good but faded; "The Pilgrimage' was a really nice, spiritual book.

Stephen King is brilliant and I read a couple of his books last year.  I really liked "Mr Mercedes"; likeable characters, a horrible villain, several unexpected twists and a breathless finish.  There is a promise that these characters will return in a sequel. This isn't one of Kings very best novels but it come close.  "Revival" is a decent read but for me falls short of Stephen King's high standards.  I liked the main character but for some reason I couldn't really buy into the story.

Last year I loved Macus Zusak's 'The Book thief' so I took a chance and picked up a copy of 'I am the Messenger'.  This is another excellent book, a real page turner that I literally couldn't put down.  This book is unexpected, I didn't have a clue where it was going and it is heart warming.  I didn't realise it was meant to be 'teen fiction' until I was three quarters of the way through but it didn't matter.  The characters are young but the themes are ageless.  For me the end was a little disappointing but its still a really good read.

I don't read much non fiction, I prefer novels so kept Owen Jones' 'The Establishment & how they get away with it' on the pile for a while before I eventually picked it up.  The title pretty much tells you all you need to know about the content.  This book did not surprise me unduly because I already had a pretty cynical view of all things political but what Owen Jones has done is explain (as the title suggests) how "They" go about royally ripping us off.  It's not an easy read and it has the potential to be depressing but it actually gives me a little hope.  If more and more people read this book and learn how they are getting ripped off then maybe we can rise up and change things for the better?  Here's hoping.

2015 saw me actually become interested in politics again for the first time since...?  This is soley due to Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of the Labour party.  I like Jeremy's politics but best of all, he isn't part of the Eton/Oxbridge bullshit clique.  I really believe he could make this country a better place.

On a personal note the second half of 2015 was very tough because my Dad became ill in mid summer and died on September 10th.  He was a simple, humble man who touched many people's lives with a big smile and lots of laughter.  His family adored him and we all miss him every day.  At times like this faith helps, even if it is as unconventional as mine.

2015 will always be the year that my Dad died but I must not forget there have been good times too, some of the happy memories are mentioned above, others elsewhere.  I'm most delighted to say that my family and my children in particular have all grown in character as well as years.  My kids have endured difficult times over the last couple of years but they probably don't realise how fantastic they have been, even though I have made a point of telling them.  They have made their Granddad proud.

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