Tag Archive: review


Five minutes on 2016

It’s almost time to stick two fingers up to 2016 and I know of few people who actually will be sad to see the back of this year. Flo and Joan said/sang it well in their song (just ignore the patronising comments below). 

But in time-honoured tradition, here’s my review of 2016.

It sucked. Kinda like 2015 actually (I’m looking at last year’s post as I type this) though with far less potential optimism. Aside from deaths of some well-loved, talented and creative people people (again, listen to Flo and Joan), the EU Referendum and the run on the pound, the Berlin Market atrocity, ongoing strife in Syria, failure of peace deal in Columbia, the rise of “post-truth” and pseudo-fascism…

In the good news? Possible cure/vaccine for HIV is definitely top of my list. Granted, it’s not confirmed but is the best news for a while in that area and could bring relief to what – 50, 60 million people? Team GB did well at the Olympics which isn’t really my bag but brought a bit of cheer to the UK. And despite the failure of the peace deal in Columbia, the Nobel Prize for Peace went to someone who deserved it. There was also Obama’s historic visit to Cuba; progress of a sort but might be undone in 2017. But perhaps more cruelly, there’s also been a lot of schadenfreude to revel in. Like Martin Shkreli’s indictment (true, it came at the arse-end of 2015 but close enough to enjoy this year). Michael Gove’s back-stabbing backfiring. Zac Goldsmith’s two election defeats, England losing to Iceland (that was hilarious), Sarkozy being dumped in the first round of his party’s Presidential selection process, UKIP’s meltdown…

Travel: Failed to get to Prague. But visited Vienna, Bratislava and Madrid for the first time, two trips to Berlin, couple of outings to Brussels as well as the usual forays to Swansea. A very memorable year for getting out and about and I really hope that June 23rd will not see this curtailed. Though I can probably skip ongoing trips to Brussels as I’ve been there several million times. I would like to try for a transatlantic trip for 2017 though am not confident of this happening. Still, never say never, especially if I can stop splurging on board games and video games. And food. Liked the new Eurostar carriages, didn’t like the mini planes I went on from Berlin to Brussels and from Berlin back to City Airport.

Personal Life: I think an improvement on the previous year. Felt more involved with everything going on. Emphasised some friendships over others which has been rewarding, trying to build in more diversity with activities. Gaming at Casa Beaufoy has gone from strength to strength. Met a couple of new people this year, others have faded off my contact list.

Vices: Booze has been up and down. Some dry(ish) months, some very wet months. And regular trips to Utobeer haven’t helped! Weight – up. But that’s because of the damn Achilles Tendon problem. It’s on the mend however and I hope that it’ll begin to fall soon. No other vices to report. Hell, I’m even going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. My younger self would be disgusted.

Love Life: Picking up. Some options at last but I’m being careful in how things proceed – given track record.

Work: Post-referendum was tedious but things have picked up since and am in the middle of things again. Going to put a little bit more effort into getting a promotion. It’s more about the money than anything else. Job satisfaction is for the middle classes.

Ailments: The Achilles! So that started in May time, got progressively worse in the summer and culminated in me registering with a GP for the first time in almost 20 years. But the pills and the new shoes are allowing me to reclaim my independence…or at least my ability to get out and walk more. Other than that, a couple of sniffles, the hay-fever seems to have largely gone away. There are a couple of days I have to reach for the antihistamines but they are by far the exception rather than the rule. Sinus pimples have been a nuisance.

Gaming: I’d like to think I’ve bought fewer games and expansion packs this year, at least with regard board games. Cannot necessarily say the same for video games. 7 Wonders has been the main game played this year with Twilight Struggle a distant second and all the others jockeying for third/fourth. Playing in the board room has also been great and I hope that can continue throughout the year. More Eldritch, more Talisman – and I still bloody well need to learn how to play Age of Empires 3. On video games, regular readers will know my ongoing love affair with Fallout 4 which has supplanted GTA Online as my “must play” game. Though I’ve enjoyed the HD versions of Dead Island and Arkham Asylum City. On my iPad, AdVenture Capitalist and Clicker Heroes have been supplanted by more Talisman, Twilight Struggle and a resurgence for playing Bang! As for my laptop – been playing very little…

Twenty Fifteen

It’s January – that means it’s time for a look back at 2015 or to use last year’s quote, a time for modest meals and modest reflections. First, the question: what was 2015? How can I best sum it up? 

In terms of world news, 2015 has pretty much stunk: religious fundamentalism (not just in the middle east) on the rise, doom and gloom over antibiotic resistant diseases, the turmoil in Ukraine, stress over the economy, Paris, the developing situation over the Spratley Islands and climate change wreaking havoc. And here in the UK, the political scene which saw the re-emergence of adversarial politics with nearly 4 million people voting UKIP, 1.6 million voting for nationalist parties and then the Labour Party’s continued meltdown. We’ve also got the serious housing issue – a bubble which threatens hundreds of thousands, a rental market which is going to erupt like Vesuvius in 79CE and the fact that there are so many empty properties hogged by developers with a government firmly on the side of the money. And we saw farewell to Leonard Nimoy, LLAP.

But it’s not all bad, I guess. Top of my list is that Kirchner has been kicked out of office in Argentina (well, she couldn’t stand again but good riddance), Cuba/US relations, Polio all but consigned to the ashcan of history, the Climate Change deal, the case against News International which showed just how vulnerable Murdoch’s empire actually is (despite a lack of actual prosecutions) – this is getting hard, I stand by my 2015 stinks comment.

Travel: Not as much as last year, particularly with a lack of Brussels action for six months. Berlin twice, Paris once, Swansea twice and that’s about yer lot. Failed to get to Prague which was a target but short of a nuclear war, it’ll be there in 2016. 

Personal Life: improving on last year, more stuff happening for a majority of the week rather than the minority. I avoided the trap of taking huge blocks of time off so that things could continue unabated. The Griffin quiz prizes of the escape rooms, lunch up the Shard et al have also been very welcome. The quiz has been somewhat grating this year as attendance has been ropier than the bridge at the end of Temple of Doom.

Vices: Well, you’ll recall I whined back in October about weight issues having seen myself in the niff in a changing room and going on a strict diet. That has helped, as has a fairly good November and December. Salad for lunch most weekdays, a reasonable meal in the evening (lots of baked beans for some daft reason). Even curtailed diet Pepsi consumption in favour of squash. Alcohol – thanks to my predilection for German ale, this went up in 2015 but is back under control at the end of the year. I bought a load of Belgian beer the other week and it remains untouched in my cupboard at home.

Love Life: Again, the tomb of the forbidden subject. Had only one proper date this year. And one…improper date (that’s not the right term but it was a spontaneous thing with a friend… I know what I mean). Sufficed to say, if I actually owned a date book, it’d be a poor return on my investment. At least there weren’t a score of multiple cancellations. That said, these last couple of weeks have shown a flurry in recent interest. Dunno what to make of it – yet.

Work: Want to leave. I’ve been here almost five years and enough is enough. Looks like redundancy is not an option any more in this organisation unless I get lucky (or unlucky). But I’m going to have Re-registration finished off and will then make a concerted effort to get that promotion. I’m feeling coerced into trying for a leg-up programme to help people at my grade get to the next level. I don’t want to do it, it’s a load of rubbish but there’s a tribe of monkeys (checks collective noun for group of simians…) – correction, a barrel of monkeys on my back.

Ailments: I don’t recall any sick leave taken this year though had a couple of colds which were enough to cause several days’ worth of misery. Nothing has fallen off, ceased to work, grey hairs are kept in check, hairline recession is still glacial. Ankle is a cause for concern though not majorly so.

Gaming: A very good year for games in general. Bought the Xbone obviously and have racked up a lot of time on that. And the releases in 2015 have been pretty inspiring for the game I have/have played as well as the games I want/want to play. Still haven’t replaced my DS… For board games: an equally good year with 2016, or at least the first half, looking to have some good releases. There are a lot of expansion packs being developed for pre-existing games which helps keep stuff interesting. In a way I’m glad I haven’t cashed in on the recent Imperial Assault fad as it’d be hard to keep up with the current packs. I must have spent…£500 on new board games in 2015…definitely not sustainable!