Good Riddance

This is the time of year when people make lists and I’m no exception. 2003 had been a rotten year because of a bunch of professional and personal reasons I’m not going into here (this is not a blog, after all) and the shameful invasion of Iraq. I’ll be glad to see the back of it. However, there were lots of good bits worth remembering. For instance, we had four nights in Rome, and I saw my favourite band, REM, twice (the second time at Glastonbury) and also saw great gigs by David Bowie, Neil Young and Evan Dando, amonst others. Gig of the year, however, had to be Paul McCartney on his first night at Sheffield Arena – a fantastic show and an emotional evening for a lad brought up on the Beatles in West Kirby, only a few miles from Liverpool, with front block seats.

My favourite film of the year was Goodbye Lenin, which will surprise nobody who reads my forthcoming Barrington Stoke novel, ‘Coma’, although I didn’t nick the film’s plot (honest). Best play was Dark Earth by David Harrower at Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival. My favourite telly was either The Office Christmas special or the entire second season of Curb Your Enthusiasm (the first series got off to a shaky start but the second lost the improvised feel and turned into the kind of sour, superbly tight farce that Seinfeld excelled at). Unfortunately, you have to have BBC4 to see it, but more than half the UK does now, so maybe that’s OK…

The best young adult novel I read this year was Fleshmarket by Nicola Morgan, set in the Victorian Edinburgh of Burke, Hare and the early days of surgery. Stephan Collishaw’s The Last Girl was the best first novel I read this year. The adult novel I most enjoyed was Michael Chabon’s The Wonder Boys. His The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier and Klay about the early days of superhero comics, was thoroughly absorbing, too. And, finally, out now but not officially published until next week, Nigel Pickard’s first poetry pamphlet, Making Sense (Shoestring Press) is well worth looking out for.

Happy New Year to all my readers.

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