Anybody who came here looking for my annual best songs of the year blog posts will, I’m afraid, be disappointed. The best of year compilations that I put together with my partner, Sue, who died in June, won’t be carrying on. I might do a playlist this year, and I might write about it. Or I might not. Everything, as they say, is still up in the air, and I shan’t begin to make any long term decisions until the summer, after I return from my long-delayed fellowship in the Ransom Center, Austin, where I will conclude research on my novel about Graham Greene’s four months in Nottingham, which I hope to publish in late 2025.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in my current work, this probably isn’t the best place to find out more about me, but you can read all of my posts from the last twenty-odd years. Social media is very fractured these days and nobody reads blogs unless they’re very well promoted and curated, neither of which I have time for. I am still on the site formerly known as Twitter, primarily because I have a still growing number of followers (despite keeping my following feed to manageable proportions, rather than following everyone back, which is the easiest way to build engagement). I post much less often, not least because the new owner’s algorhythms mean that my posts are seen by a miniscule proportion of the number who used to see them (hint: to only see posts from people you follow, use the ‘following’ tab at the top. If you use ‘for you’ you won’t see me, but you will see endless clickbait, ads and hate speech).
I am on Instagram (as david_belbin) but only post photos a couple of times a month. I do see Threads and have an account there but it doesn’t seem to have any traction, so I’ve stopped using it. For the sort of thing that I used to post on Twitter (that is, music and literature, but definitely no politics) I’ve started using Bluesky, although it does seem quite hard to build engagement there, possibly because it’s still in Beta. There are some of my favourite people though and I have a few invite codes, so if you’re interested, use the ‘contact’ button above to email me and if I have any left, I’ll send you one.
And yes, I am on facebook, though I use the site primarily for keeping up with friends, so not everything in my feed is public and I don’t accept friends requests from people I’m not connected with in real life. By the way, I have memorialised Sue’s facebook feed. This means people won’t get notifications about her birthday, which would have been this Friday, but anyone can still see everything that’s been up before. And since I haven’t posted anything about this here before, I would like to thank everybody who packed University Hall for Sue’s memorial celebration on November 5th. In particular, I want to thank my dear friends Michael Eaton for MCing and Mike Atkinson for doing the interviews for the memorial video, which was superbly put together by him (audio) and Graham Lester George. Sue would have been thrilled that Seckou Keita performed in her honour (along with the house band from Peggy’s Skylight, the jazz club we loved so much. Thanks also to Sophie and everyone at NTU for your help and all of the speakers on the video and at the celebration, including Sue’s old friend Jackie Kay who read her poems ‘Fiere’ and ‘Darling’.
Here’s a link to a slideshow of Sue with friends, accompanied by one of the two pieces Seckou played, ‘Missing You.’ I do have a video of the entire memorial service available for friends of Sue who, because of distance or illness, were unable to get there. Contact me if you need the private link. I also wrote a long biographical introduction to Sue’s final collection of poetry ‘What to do Next’ which is available from Five Leaves Bookshop and Shoestring Press. The response to the book has been wonderful. I’m sure Sue would have been very proud of it.
I don’t know how often I’ll post here in future but thanks for coming, and happy new year.