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[personal profile] shinytoaster
Having largely failed at Dreamwidthing or Livejournalling in the past 12 months (I think maybe three or four entries in total during the course of the year which surely marks an all-time low) I thought it might be a good time to update online friends with what has been going on in my life these past 12 months. I'm taking a little inspiration from [personal profile] chris so, with the greatest of affection for himself, this may get long.



My personal 2011 has seen some ups and downs, but overall, thanks in no small part to [personal profile] aegeus, has seen me comfortably content. The growing imminence of my 30s is concerning on a mental level, but I am happy to be putting further behind me some of the issues and financial insecurity that plagued my early 20s.

In terms of wider events, with economic turmoil, revolutions, devastating natural disasters and civil unrest in London that directly affected me, I find less to be optimistic about. I am deeply concerned by the way the world is changing on environmental and social level and am not optimistic that 2012 will be much different. If I were to put my money on an emergent future in the classical sci-fi mode, I would definitely be leaning towards 'dystopian disaster'.

January started in the throes of a party at our flat, during which much Trivial Pursuit was played and a good amount of alcohol consumed. Sadly we were not able to make this an annual thing to mark the beginning of 2012.

In the middle of the month when we finally went to court to settle the case against the man who assaulted us at Victoria Station just before our wedding. To sum up an unpleasant story, despite a truly pathetic attempt to accuse me of racial abuse, he was convicted and landed a community service and compensation order. To date we have seen none of the compensation awarded, although to be quite truthful I am more than happy to just put that behind us.

At the end of the month and into February we hosted [personal profile] wordplay and [personal profile] meggitymeg for a three day London theatre binge, during which we took in Clybourne Park (unsettlingly funny), Season's Greetings (tried and tested Ayckbourn) and the NT's new production of Frankenstein (a BAD play).

February was a light month with little to report. We made the mistake of celebrating our first Valentine's Day as a married couple out at one of our favourite restaurants in London, but that didn't matter.

March brought a career-related broadside that I posted about at the time, with the sale of our magazine to an American tech publishing outfit based out of Boston. Despite my early misgivings, their substantial investment in what was a dying brand began to pay off later in the year, and we are now, I'm happy to say, making money again. It didn't hurt that I copped a pay rise out of the deal.

It's been odd going to work for a company that was largely composed of Americans before our acquisition (even post-acquisition the office is split maybe 60:40 Brits to Americans) and evolving into a different working culture, although we've taught them a thing or two about evening (and sometimes prandial) journalist drinking sessions.

On a more serious level it has been a pleasure to work in a start-up environment with plenty of cash sloshing about. At the time I said to myself I would give them 18 months to show their mettle or I would quit. After nine months, I can confidently say I'll happily stick around.

However, in April this was all still to come, and it was a tricky month, with continued fall-out from our sudden acquisition and brought uncertainty about my future career. An unpleasant few weeks, although we passed a lovely, boozy Royal Wedding Day (or as lovely a one as this republican is prepared to admit to) with friends...

We also hosted [personal profile] rustnroses for a couple of days, during which we marked the season debut of Doctor Who with much wine and Skyping with [personal profile] john whose travels left him much missed this year.

In early May, we finally moved across from our old to new owners, going from our old offices in south London to swanky new digs next to Marble Arch in the West End. This has been one of the best parts of the acquisition; whereas before if I wanted to do a press event or lunch meeting in London I had to take the best part of half a day out to accommodate transport, now I just commandeer a tube or Boris bike at will and zip around from interview appointment to launch to lunch with ease.

I also had my 29th birthday, on which I picked up my brand new road bike. It is a beautiful piece of machinery, as light as a feather, and has done wonders for my poor dystrophic leg muscles, as well as pushing me to one of my 2011 goals; cycling a distance of over 3,600 miles from London to Washington DC.

My other birthday present was the tasting menu (plus matched wine) at Gordon Ramsay's Maze in Mayfair, which was a wonderful evening, even if they can't make a decent martini.

June saw more house guests in the shape of [personal profile] glittertine and girlfriend D, who hit town for T's birthday and a Jonathan Coulton concert which I did not attend, but heard good things about. We celebrated with lovely Mexican at the cantina around the corner from our flat.

June 19th was, of course, our first wedding anniversary, and found us among the rich and famous at the Wolesley for dinner, which was quite lovely.

Other than that, a quiet month overall, with a few highlights, including an evening at the Hammersmith Apollo to watch Reginald D Hunter, who is quite a different comedian when not taking part on primetime BBC shows; I greatly enjoyed him.

July saw my first European holiday in several years, a few days in Amsterdam, taking in art galleries, cafes, bars, shops, a canal cruise with a difference (seriously, if ever you find yourself there, check out the St Nicolaas Boat Club; it's a cut above the glass-roofed tourist boats and they let you bring your own booze on board), and even an English-language improv show a la Whose Line, which was a great evening out.

Sadly, I came back to earth with a bump at the end of the month when my maternal grandmother died just two days short of her 91st birthday. It was not unexpected, as she had been deteriorating for some time, but it came earlier than we had thought and caught the family napping, to the extend that I was not able to say a proper goodbye, which I profoundly regret. She was a wonderful grandmother, the sort you properly find only in stories, and one which any child would have been blessed to have. I miss her deeply.

The first weeks of August were, as a result, an odd time, with funeral preparations, and the sudden eruption of London in opportunistic riots sparked by a police shooting. Our own neighbourhood around Clapham Junction in Battersea was badly hit on the evening of August 8th, when organised looting saw the majority of stores on our high street smashed up, and one store, which ironically donated its profits to a street kids charity, gutted by arsonists. It was a surreal experience to watch it unfold live on TV whilst smelling the smoke.

I remain very angry and critical over how the riots were handled. It subsequently emerged that police resources were diverted from our area to protect the Westfield shopping mall in Shepherd's Bush, and from my own experience I can confirm that the police essentially left us alone for two hours, giving the looters, who were mostly not from the area, the run of our town.

One positive to come out of this, however, was an unexpected flowering of community spirit in the wake of the riots. Most of the shops were up and trading within days, with the exception of Currys (equivalent to Radio Shack, probably) which used the looting as an excuse to shut down permanently, and remains vacant today. The boards covering the smashed windows were quickly covered in graffiti expressing love and support for the area, and many (if not most) of you will have seen the famous photo of the 'broom army', which was taken here, although I'm not in it as I was at home working.

When we first moved to Battersea in 2010 I was struck by a sense of place that I had not had in our previous neighbourhoods, and thought this was a place I could happily settle and spend a good part of my life. I feel part of a thriving community here and am thankful for that.

In the middle of this turmoil, and spoiling her holiday to some extent, I suspect, we were joined by [personal profile] longtimegone and friends, and enjoyed a fantastic evening at the theatre to watch David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing. I can safely say I have never enjoyed, or laughed so much, at Shakespeare. Moving the action to Gibraltar in the early 80s was a particularly inspired touch, I thought.

August also saw us take off to Brighton for Pride chez [personal profile] frayer and [personal profile] radinden. This was my first trip to Brighton since [personal profile] aegeus graduated in 2008, and it was lovely to see the old girl again. Pride was not awesome, but that is more the result of our planning abilities than actual crapness, and we will try better next year. Whatever, it was lovely to spend time with friends.

September and October were unseasonably summery months here, with much talk of global warming and autumn temperature records broken. I can't say I found much to complain about; I had a week off in September and used the warm days to get in some cycling, most often around my favourite route in Richmond Park, and exploring new rides out in the Surrey Hills. October also found me in Copenhagen for an industry trade show.

November started with another business trip to Berlin, where I caught up with old colleagus and contacts, but saw little else of much interest. We were sadly unable to join [personal profile] chris and [personal profile] meggitymeg for Thanksgiving in North Yorkshire this year.

December saw the 10th birthday of one of my oldest and most dearly loved internet presences, my Livejournal, which went completely unmarked. I've been alert to, but not really taking much notice of, the latest LJ fuck-up re. comments.

Speaking of old internet presences, I also spent a few days early in the month revisiting some old threads and fics online, and reminiscing about fandoms long-abandoned.

Aside from a string of corporate Christmas parties and lunches for work, the main event this month was our trip to see the family in Silver Spring, from which we returned on the 30th. We had a relaxing few days and a lovely Christmas Day, and spent a good amount of time catching up with friends, as well as making our now-obligatory trip to PF Chang's. To those we didn't get to see, we will plan better next time.

Which about brings us up to date. This evening I will be having a curry and a few beers and then going to bed to face 2012 in all its terrifying glory.
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