Out of 2022 – Into 2023

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2022 followed in 2021’s wake, in that motivation continued to be lacking. Bizarrely, I had spurts of ambition and often planned a lot of things (& even started stuff), but then I just couldn’t follow it all through – #MindTheBand and #MindTheBard are two cases in point. I got some things written but it was like wading through treacle most of the time. At least once I got to the end of the year and introduced #MindTheBaubles I managed to complete most things in a far more timely fashion (the slight lag at the end only came about because I’d planned it too close to my journey out of London for Christmas). My little film-based projects managed to hold my interest a bit more, so Film February will be coming back next month – and I may add things to my Bondathon page if the need arises.

I even managed to get my favourite (and least favourite – mwahahahaha) shows list out before the end of the year, as well as following up with my favourite other things a few days later. I was pleased to notice some other people engaging with the ‘bad shows’ round-up idea, as it is important to note that not every single show is a 5-star joy; it also gives us the opportunity to see if there are any patterns emerging and work out if something had potential but just didn’t quite make the grade.

Another achievement was getting my show volume back up to slightly healthier levels: I totted up 78 different shows (109 performances in total) for 2022. I don’t think it will return to the madness that was 2017-18, where I saw over 200 different shows each year – partly because I’m trying to do a wider variety of things (I can’t go to a gig and a show on the same night), and partly because I’m not taking on anywhere near as many review requests at the moment. I’m not going to be overdoing it for the foreseeable, but will try to step it up if I feel that I’m able to cope.

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It was a film-tastic year on various levels, as I finally managed to complete the original Star Wars trilogy in concert at the Royal Albert Hall – and also took advantage of a Spectre concert screening as part of the 60 Years of Bond celebrations. Getting myself a Limitless membership from Odeon definitely made film a more attractive proposition, as it means I can basically book on a whim and not have to worry about paying for it; I have found that the more central cinemas are pretty shit at having theatre-friendly timings (why wouldn’t I want to go straight from the cinema to the theatre of an evening?), but that’s a minor detail. I’ll be keeping the membership for the foreseeable, as awards season means there’s a bumper crop of (usually) terrific films to see, but whether I retain it over the more fallow months I don’t know – if cinemas keep up with the re-releases of old films then I will be more tempted.

Excitingly, I managed to surpass my target of 12 gigs in a year (that’s right, I went to 13), and I’ve already got a healthy selection lined up for 2023. At the moment it’s like a legends line-up, with a couple of doses of Bruuuuuuce, both of Coldplay’s Cardiff shows, plus Muse, Sparks & Pulp – I’m considering adding Duran Duran and Blur to the schedule, and am desperate to find a gig at the Roundhouse that appeals to me. I loved seeing Miles Kane and Maxïmo Park there last year (plus both of those gigs had an excellent array of support artists); it’s not so big that you feel far away, and I love that the seats are there to sit in – so you don’t have to worry about some tall person ruining your night by standing up in front of you. The Stereophonics/Wind + The Wave offshoot, Far From Saints, is finally coming to the surface – they’re starting to release some music this month, so I’m keeping everything crossed that they can get some gigs lined up for later in the year as well.

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I’m pretty set on #MindTheMusicals making a comeback this year, as there are a few productions either opening up or already settled that I wouldn’t mind seeing all together over the course of a week – I just need to work out exactly when to slot that in. It would be good if I could take a little field trip as part of that week, so I’ll have to do a bit of investigating on that front. There’s a good chance of #MindTheBaubles coming back, and I have a germ of an idea for another #MindTheBard that I’m sure will come up trumps again. #MindTheBand may take a hiatus; as three of my already booked gigs (plus the continually-postponed Debbie Harry book talk – 48th time lucky?) are in May, I’m considering doing something over the course of that month instead – I weirdly seem to be able to maintain interest & motivation in projects that last slightly longer.

I had another decent reading year in 2022; not quite as many books were devoured compared to the year before, but I took that into consideration when setting my target – it’s definitely easier to knuckle down and read when I’m over in Somerset, so unsurprisingly I crashed past my 75-book target and ended up on 78 when left to my own devices over Christmas. I’ve bumped it up to 83 for 2023 (no clue why), and am hoping that joining in with #ReadChristie2023 – plus going again with my monthly cricket book plan – will give me a solid foundation on which to build a healthy selection of other reads. And let’s have more female than male writers in the final total this year, eh?

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That just leaves theatre plans… I’m still operating with a bit of caution, partly out of fear of late cancellations and partly because I’d like to try not to overspend every single month this year! Sticking with the mask as a default setting for now, especially while everyone else still seems to be coughing their guts up at the most inopportune moment; to be honest, theatres should really be encouraging more people to follow suit over the winter months to help prevent everyone going down with one kind of respiratory virus or another. Luckily one of the perks of my day job was that I had the opportunity to get a ‘flu jab and COVID booster last autumn (which I wouldn’t have been offered otherwise), so at least I have some sort of assistance on that front.

I do have a few shows pre-booked, however, including OrlandoA Streetcar Named DesireLemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons, and Newsies – plus the obligatory Cabaret visits, and hopefully a fine collection of Operation Mincemeat West End tickets (I currently just have one, but I’ll start accumulating them before long). I’ve obviously already ticked off Henry VGood (a lovely last-minute bargain spot for the closing performance!), and As You Like It, which keeps reminding me to sort myself out for the rest of the Globe’s winter season… Looking further ahead, I’m really excited about the new adaptation of Robin Hood that will be staged at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre this summer – I didn’t manage to see a single show there last year, so I hope to make that up in spades in 2023. Also, rail strikes permitting, I’ll be up in Stratford-upon-Avon for some of their summer season, and maybe also doing the touristy things I’ve not previously had time for.

Plenty to look forward to already, then, and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come!

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