Hindsight is 2020
I don't typically make New Year's resolutions, but I do find the post-Christmas lull a useful opportunity for reflection. This year I am sort of making a resolution, namely to update this blog at least occasionally (probably mostly with development/a11y stuff but we'll see), since I rebuilt this site in eleventy at the end of last year and may as well make use of it. In the mean time, here's my rundown of stuff I enjoyed/did during the Earth's last sidereal period.
My enjoyment of watching films is very closely tangled with the social and ritual aspects of a visit to the cinema - home viewing and its various distractions (phones, cats, the fridge) can't really compare. For that reason I've watched significantly fewer films since the first UK lockdown, and that's reflected in my list.
Eligibility criteria: I've limited myself here to works that got a UK theatrical or streaming release in 2020.
- Da 5 Bloods
- Lovers Rock
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire
- Saint Maud
- Uncut Gems
I hadn't thought about it prior to compiling this list, but now that I've written it down I see that my TV viewing this year has largely revolved around sitcoms. Also interesting (to me) is the fact that only one of these (the Good Place) was something I'd seen prior to 2020, and only one (Quiz) premiered in 2020 - the rest were established programmes I'd finally got wind of.
Eligibility criteria: here I've only included programmes which had at least 1 new episode in 2020 (so Seinfeld, which I binged all 9 seasons of and was pleasantly surprised by, isn't eligible).
- Inside No 9
- Schitt's Creek
- The Good Place
- This Country
I've listened to more music this year, and I think I've covered a wider variety too - I imagine this is at least partly to do with not being in the office.
Eligibility criteria: albums or EPs listed as 2020 releases on Spotify or Bandcamp.
- Agalma - Drew McDowell
- Aralkum - Galya Bisengalieva
- Debris - Keeley Forsyth
- File Under UK Metaplasm - Rian Trainor
- folklore - Taylor Swift
- Lickety Split - Martyn Bootyspoon
- Palimpsest - Lauren Bousfield
- SAWAYAMA - Rina Sawayama
- Shiver - Jonsi
- Solo Piano - Ella van der Woude
In the interests of decluttering I made an effort to read some of the books that have been gathering dust on the shelf, rather than buying new, so I'm not limiting myself to 2020 works here. As it happens, both the oldest (either The Decameron or The Thousand and One Nights depending on how you date them) and newest (Earthlings) books I read made it onto the list.
Eligibility criteria: books of any age which I read for the first time in 2020.
- Declare - Tim Powers
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead - Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
- Earthlings - Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
- Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi
- Mouthful of Birds - Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell
- The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - Angela Carter
- The Chrysalids - John Wyndham
- The Decameron - Giovanni Boccaccio, translated by G. H. McWilliam
- The Odyssey - Homer, translated by Emily Wilson
- The Thousand and One Nights - Anonymous/Various, translated by Husain Haddawy
I don't buy new PS4 games because I'm a cheapskate, and I don't play enough to do a proper list, so I'll just cover a couple of games that I did play for the first time this year. Early in the lockdown I played through the 4 main Uncharted games and enjoyed the cinematic storytelling and the puzzle elements, but found shooting faceless enemies again and again incredibly tedious (and learned about ludonarrative dissonance in the process). I had much more fun with Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which had significantly more varied gameplay, as well as an open world and setting which were very rewarding for me as someone with an interest in the classical world.
Chance & Counters, Bristol's board game cafe, was closed for most of 2020, so I didn't get to play as many new board games as I'd have liked, but I did enjoy:
- Castles of Mad King Ludwig
- Love Letter
2020 was a mixed year for me doing sport - I was meant to take part in Bristol Sprint Triathlon (my first) in May but that was postponed for obvious reasons. But since then I've spent a lot more time running, breaking my personal best for a 5k and subsequently running my first 10k and half marathon. I've done a lot less cycling for practical/travel reasons, but have done more cycling for leisure, including riding the Strawberry Line for the first time and a lovely but challenging trip to Stanton Drew. I also played a few rounds of disc golf, a sport I was previously completely unaware of, which I enjoyed despite being pretty poor at it.