I’m slacking. Normally I’d have read last years New Years Eve post, made a note of the things I said I’d do and then compare it with the list of things I’ve actually done. I’ve looked forward to the process. Relished it, even.
This year, I’ve left it late. Hours before the end of the year, I’m still struggling to come up with grand goals for next year (they’re goals, not resolutions – deliberate). Thinking about what I’d like to do isn’t something I particularly want to do either.
So to get the juices flowing, I took off for a mid-morning walk down to Southwold harbour and back along the beach to town. Streets in shadow still had early morning frost on the ground. The chilly air stung the inside of my nose. Passed endless runners – one eye-catchingly buff clearly wanting to prove a point running in a skin-tight vest and shorts. A timely reminder that I’d like to get some regular exercise into my schedule, the kind of exercise that doesn’t bugger my knee and might help me think a little better of myself when I look in the mirror. Spot the homosexual in his forties worrying about how he looks.
Stopped off at the marketplace to post yesterday’s blog. Ended up checking my email. Friend has emailed me the shocking news that a colleague of his has died in a car crash in the US over the Christmas holidays. Far too young. Audibly gasp when I read it. Some people stop and look at me.
Amble back to the cottage. Have breakfast. Make for Dunwich beach in the car where we do a two hour walk. Dunwich is gorgeous. It’s where I did my GCSE geography fieldwork. Stunning beach of shingle and sand. Aldeburgh’s dated charm pales into insignificance. Stop off at the Ship Inn – stupidly busy but cracking atmosphere. Endless cute dogs. Journey back to Southwold is extended by listening to an afternoon drama, ‘Meet Cute’, on Radio 4. Also drop by to look at the majestic Blythburgh Church.
Dave and Miya arrive just as James Bond discovers his girlfriend painted head to toe in gold paint in Goldfinger. (Sean Connery still vies for the crown of most alluring lead alongside the crushing vulnerability of Daniel Craig.) We play the Really Nasty Horse Racing Game, then head off to the beach around midnight where Southwold residents have congregated to let off fireworks. Lovely atmosphere. Health and safety seems of little concern. Little wonder everyone in the shops I asked about the fireworks this morning was so cagey.
I’d hoped that this wandering around the east coast of Suffolk might help focus some thoughts. It hasn’t. It’s not until I sit down to bash out some stuff on the new iPad mini that the ideas come to my mind. What follows then is the inevitable review of my 2014 with some thoughts about 2015. It’s wordy, obviously.
What looms large on the list for 2014 is successfully completing the training to be an executive coach at the BBC. This, by a long way, has been the most transformative experience of my professional life, helping me to understand myself as I learn different ways of helping others understand theirs. The near month-long training course has been incredibly self-affirming. At the same time, the central question used by many coaches – ‘What is it specifically that you want?’ – can now potentially haunt any flight of fancy I might now have. New Years Resolutions seem childish cliches in comparison. Now, if an idea cannot stand-up to the GROW model, then it’s not worth wasting any time thinking about.
Blogging the BBC Proms
My blogging has changed this year. For many years I’d felt embarrassed by personal blogging, judged by those who wrote for a living that journaling was a sign of failure, that readers weren’t interested in what I thought and still less how I felt and that I really should have given it up by now. Shortly after th BBC Proms press launch in April, I made a conscious decision to return to journaling, first by keeping a diary during the Proms itself and later in the year documenting December.
During the summer, the process helped me be reunited with the Proms itself, at the same time as helping me understanding how my listening skills had changed. As the Proms approached it’s end, I was reminded through my own personal experience that anyone who still bleats on about there being insufficient young people at classical music concerts either weren’t going to the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenments gigs or we’re forgetting that for the majority of the audience, classical music is something they grow into, like listening to Radio 4. Classical music is a lifelong companion for me, something I couldn’t have appreciated at the age of 18. These things take time.
If I was reunited with the Proms, I was also definitely reunited with Eurovision which over time had been sullied somewhat. When you love something there is an ongoing desire to at some level or other feel a part of it, by which I mean more than just watching it on screen and jumping up and down with a sodding flag.
When Radio 2 asked me to work with their interactive team on the first ever pop-up radio service the station had mounted, I was initially reticent, fearing that it would be another experience which would damage the delicate relationship I feel I have with the event.
It was a demanding project, but an unexpectedly fulfilling one, not least because the station’s output led by the marvellous Paddy O’Connell out in Denmark felt as though it was tailored specifically for me in mind. I wasn’t the only on who thought it, I don’t think – a great many friends experienced a similar sense of sadness when the station closed-down the day after the Contest. A wonderful thing to be a part of.
If the way I’m blogging has changed, so too my confidence to writing fiction has improved. This was in part because of attending the same creative writing course I subscribed to when I first joined the BBC. Shaun Levin’s creative writing course introduced me to tools which made the prospect of writing fiction seem easier. The book I’m working on (now at 50,000 words) has seen its greatest splurge of drafting this year, something I’ll return to this January. And there the goal for that has changed: at first it was just about getting it drafted. Now, inevitably. I want to get it published.
So, maybe there are some goals for the year: finish the draft, get the book a publisher, do more writing and get more exercise. But there’s something looming which feels a little more unwieldy. Something a little more fundamental. What do I do next at work? As I mark 10 years at the BBC, 21 years since I started work, and another 23 years before I officially retire, what is the next step? Will that next step be taken at the BBC or elsewhere? Should I continue blogging (I’ve been doing that for 10 years now too) if it’s not really going anywhere? What should I devote my dwindling free time to? Does there always have to be an end goal in order to justify the pursuit of personal interests? And so we come back to the classic coaching question … What is it specifically you want?
I’m in danger of falling into that classic New Year trip of reflecting on things too much.
Time to pack up the car and head back to London.