TwentyTwelve

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? 

Quite a lot of things! I suppose the biggest one was I lived in Paris. I also went on the dole, drank alcohol, took singing lessons and invested some money in stocks and shares.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 

Well, I kept some of them. The biggest one was to get back into university, and I did keep that one. I have made one this year which will be hard to keep but needs to be done.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No close friends or family, but several more distant relatives and quite a lot of friends. I seem to be getting to the age where all my friends are either engaged or having babies, and it’s quite alarming.

4. Did anyone close to you die?  

Shamefully I can’t remember exactly when my grandad died, but I think it was 2010. My pet mouse Stilton died in the summer, which was very sad, but for Christmas my brother commissioned a beautiful portrait of her which is brightening up my mantlepiece so her memory lives on.

5. What countries did you visit?

France! I think that was it.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Predictability. After such a turbulent and unpredictable year, I would like to know for certain where I will be on any given date. I don’t want any surprises. Good health, financial security and good old stability.

7. What date(s) from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

September 24th, the day I finally moved back to Cambridge.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?  

Becoming a choral scholar, I think. There haven’t been any big achievements, but a string of small triumphs that might not have looked like much to other people but were a big deal to me – the first day I didn’t need an afternoon nap, for instance.

9. What was your biggest failure? 

I had to leave Paris two months earlier than we planned because I wasn’t coping. My health wasn’t strong enough, I didn’t have enough energy and I was an emotional mess.  The four months I did manage weren’t a failure, but I wish I had been able to stick it out as planned.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I didn’t have any new illnesses but my general malaise from summer 2010 carried on affecting me until about June. Now I’m back in good health, with a few residual physiological things to sort out – my vocal cords need some speech therapy which should start some time next month.

11. What was the best thing you bought?  

Probably my Kindle. I have read much more, and much more broadly, and it helps me work as I can put articles or even textbooks onto it and take it somewhere quiet to concentrate. I was also very excited about my rice cooker.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Several of my friends were hugely supportive throughout the mess that was 2011. I know how difficult it can be to remember to stay in touch with people who have essentially dropped off the radar, and I really appreciate the friendships that have endured my disappearance.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

I’m not sure anyone I know personally has appalled or depressed me, but this year has been filled with horror and conflict across the world. I was shocked by the summer riots in England, and I felt very strongly about the Arab Spring – partly due to meeting a woman at a dinner who was closely connected to the rebellion in Egypt. She made a huge impact on me and the stories she told us about the treatment of Coptic Christians in Egypt (some of them her family) stuck in my mind.

14. Where did most of your money go?  

For the first half of the year I spent very little, but I suppose either rent or travel. It’s hard to know for certain. I have been fairly careful with money this year and managed to save up several times so unexpected expenses have been managable.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 

Meeting Penelope Leach! I spent weeks bouncing around telling people about it and buzzing with excitement. Also just coming back to Cambridge and getting my life back on track.

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2011?

I don’t know that any song will specifically remind me of 2011, but Waterloo by Abba will always remind me of my children in Paris.

17. Compared to this time last year, you are…

Older, wiser, healthier and a little more realistic.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I don’t know that I wish I’d done anything more, really. Maybe a few little things like more knitting. Overall I think the year couldn’t really have gone any differently.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I had let fewer people down, and I wish I had argued less with my family during the horrible empty months in the spring.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?  

I spent Christmas with my mum and stepdad, at John’s sister’s house eating far too much food and playing party games. It was a surprisingly lovely day.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? 

Yes. Not just with a person, but also with Paris, with my children, with the whole way of life while I was there.

23. How many one-night stands?

None this year!

24. What was your favorite TV program?

I barely watched any TV. I watched Waterloo Road when it was on, and Doctor Who, but neither of those were new favourites.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don’t think so. I really dislike my neighbour’s shrieking, but I expect I would probably quite like her if we actually met.

26. What was the best book you read?

I read my way through the complete works of Mark Twain, and all the Sherlock Holmes stories. I have read so much this year that it’s hard to remember specific books, but I don’t know that any really stick out. Perhaps one of the Virginia Woolf books I read – I really enjoyed Orlando.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Haven’t particularly made any musical discoveries but I did start making an effort to listen to more music, to buy CDs and to generally pay more attention to music.

28. What did you want and get?

I’m starting to sound like a stuck record here – I wanted to get back to university, and I did. I wanted to get a choral scholarship, and I was amazed when I did. A lot of things have gone my way this year, but a lot of them have also gone wrong: I didn’t get any of the jobs I applied for, and I applied for a lot.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw a lot of films in Paris. I loved True Grit, which I saw with a friend. I went to see The King’s Speech twice. Made in Dagenham reminded me of home. Black Swan was very thought-provoking.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 20 just after I moved to Paris, and I did very little. My french class said happy birthday and my teacher gave me a teddy bear, and the family I was working for bought me a cake. It was pretty quiet this year.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If I had been stronger, and therefore able to see things through to the end and not have to bail on people as much, I would have fewer regrets.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Jeans with holes in, jumpers I’ve been wearing for half a decade, t-shirts that don’t fit. Same as any year.

33. What kept you sane? 

Singing. The choir in Paris, the choir in Oswestry, the chapel choir in Cambridge. At low points I have clung to my music and to my faith and it has got me through when I couldn’t think of anything else that would help.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I can honestly say that I didn’t have a single celebrity crush at all this year. Or any year.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?  

I think probably the funding cuts and the effect they’re having on the NHS in particular and public services in general. I struggle to know what I think should be done, but I know something needs to happen. On a more global scale, the revolutions in the Middle East made me feel like there is some hope for humanity. The cost was huge but the cause was worthwhile.

36. Who did you miss? 

My mum. The friends I didn’t see while I was housebound. I spent a lot of the year missing people. Most of all I think I missed the person I used to be before I got ill. I’m finally starting to feel that I don’t have to miss that any more.

37. Who was the best new person you met?  

I probably got most excited about meeting Floella Benjamin, but I’m happiest about all the people I’ve met through the various choirs. I have met a huge number of wonderful people this year, some of whom will stay in my life for years and some of whom drifted back out again and left some happy memories.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:  

If something is not quite right at the start, it will probably never come right. Saying no sometimes isn’t just ok, it’s essential. I am worth more than just “good enough for now”. Tiredness makes everything worse.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

I can’t think of one right now, but if there’s a song about how things never go to plan and you just have to hold onto hope that it will all work out in the end, that would be the one.

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