As vaguely promised, threatened and otherwise alluded to, here’s my look back at the past year and comment on the things that have impacted, good and bad.

All bad writing begins with a cliché and this’ll be no exception – it was a mixed bag of emotions stirred up by the last twelve months.  There were far more positives compared with negatives, especially considering how shitty 2011 was…all round quite frankly.  The real highlights were Paris, Berlin and Brussels – aside from a very brief sojourn to Sangatte in 2002 which was strictly work, I managed to get out of the country not once, not twice but thrice!  Oh I grant you, once was work and the other was due to the Griffin Quiz though I have no intention of looking those particular gift horses in the mush.  But it was exciting, getting out of the UK and just doing something new.  For some time, I used to say that I preferred to travel through imagination, through virtual landscapes and that’s not untrue, I did prefer the safety of introspection and new ideas.  Now, I’m 33¾ and I’m ready to see more of…well, at least Europe.  I’m proud and happy to consider myself a European as well as a Brit – there’s much we can take in from our continental neighbours and friends.

A second key piece of 2012 was my birthday – I’d not organised and put something together on that scale which was (in effect) a “pub night”.  It was good to gather up so many people in one place and put on a show.  Plus, it gave people something to look forward to for the first couple of months of the year where the weather is just lousy – though I think if we have another dry winter, the ground can take it thanks to all the rain in 2012.

Paying off the last of my loan in 2012 was an immense relief as I’d been saddled with that bloody debt for over a decade and the ability to enjoy a full wage packet means I don’t have to think too carefully on what I’m buying whereas before I was practically micromanaging finances.  It means in an average month where I think I’ve spent too much money, I haven’t and there’s some to tuck away in savings.

Having my month off in August was fantastic, although the Olympics and then the Paralympics was not.  I didn’t do a great deal of strenuous activity and it took over two weeks to reacclimatise myself to the world of work.  Having my iPad (another plus) during that period enabled me to do stuff on the move, like read, write, navigate etc.  My day out in Brighton was nice although the weather was a little grim.

I would also say starting up the Risk Legacy sessions with Jad, Robyn, Rob & Joey were great as well as the continuing board game afternoons.  And Age of Mythology with various people, especially Darren and Paul.  Winning the Griffin Quiz again as well as second place earlier in the year was pretty cool.

In the wider world, the overall outlook remains somewhat pessimistic, not least because Israel seems to threaten war with Iran and suck the rest of the world in (Serbia/Austria-Hungary 1914 anyone?), the British economy splutters, the wider European economy staggers and China keeps lying to the rest of the planet about the true nature of their finances.  Racking my brain, I struggle to find many longer-term personal negatives (although that fungal infection was irritating to say the least).

Video Games – can’t finish off the blog entry without a quick mention.  A very disappointing year as far as I was concerned – not many “must get at all costs” titles on the shelves.  The 3DS XL was a welcome addition to the ranks, as were the pathetic sales of the PS Vita (SONY – have you gotten it yet?  You’re not wanted in the handheld market.  GET LOST).  Still haven’t seen/tried a Wii U as yet so I can’t pass comment on that machine.  Age of Empires Online has been a great addition to my collection and Gods & Kings too.  Did I actually buy Super Mario Galaxy 2 and still haven’t managed to take it out of the box?  Man I need help.

Could go back through this year’s diary entries to see other good/bad stuff but what’s the point?  If I haven’t learned lessons by now, chances are I never will.

Also, honourable mentions go to Stephen R, Stephen S, Andy S, John G, Rachel W, Jackie S, Aqeel and Lee B for making 2012 particularly special – they may or may not know how or why but thank y’all.