2014 and all that

Here’s my 2014 in a nutshell: it’s Hallowe’en, and I’m at a fancy dress party. I’m dressed as Alice Cooper. I have Alice Cooper’s trademark top hat. I have Alice Cooper’s trademark make-up, including the black lines coming down from the mouth and the slashes across the eyes. I have Alice Cooper’s trademark mess of black hair courtesy of a cheap and horrible wig. And I am wearing a T-shirt with ALICE COOPER: SCHOOL’S OUT on it.

All night, people call me Ozzy.

I didn’t have a great 2014. Professionally it’s been awful, with good friends treated terribly by publishers and broadcasters, august titles canned and long-running programmes pulled. I’m still blocked on the two novels I’ve got in progress, and while David and I have made lots of music that I’m very, very proud of (and which you can get for free from here) I haven’t failed to notice that while we’re making the best music of our lives it’s being heard by the fewest people we’ve ever reached. Ho hum.

The big news here in Scotland was of course the referendum on independence, which the No side won 55 to 45. I’m not going to dig through it all here, but other than renewing my faith in (some) human nature, the takeaway for me was profound cynicism about politics and the media. The Telegraph’s Scottish Editor Alan Cochrane epitomised it, writing in his referendum memoirs about how he thought helping the No side win was more important than being a proper journalist. According to Private Eye, Cochrane was promised a bonus of £10,000 to £20,000 by the Telegraph’s Chief Executive if No won; Cochrane denied the allegation. I’d love to see his post-referendum bank statement. The Yes side might not have won the referendum, but if I’m typical then a lot of people are paying a lot more attention to Scottish politics, its reporting and its discussion on social media than ever before.

Personally things were a little rough, although they’re improving, and some great music saved the day again and again: Beck’s Sea Change, Taylor Swift’s 1989, the Royksopp/Robyn collaboration, King Creosote’s From Scotland With Love, Babymetal… okay, probably not Babymetal. And there were some truly exceptional gigs, including a spine-tingling Staves, a superb Pet Shop Boys, a triumphant Chvrches, a ridiculously entertaining Marmozets and old-school fun from Public Enemy (patchy but still great) and Jesus Jones (superb, honestly). Other gigs were less successful, though: shows by Wild Beasts and The 4 of Us both suffered badly from arseholes-talking syndrome and a Bob Mould show I’d been looking forward to for months was murdered by the sound mix from hell.

Music aside, though, I’ll be glad to see the back of 2014 and I’m looking forward to seeing the beginning of what I hope will be an interesting, exciting and happy 2015. I hope that whatever you do and wherever you are, 2015 brings you everything you want and nothing that you don’t. Happy New Year when it comes.