Happy birthday to my blog and a Happy Christmas to you

My first ever blog post was on Christmas Eve in 2002 which means this website is now old enough to drink in the US. I used to write prolifically about my work, politics, the internet and pop culture etc, but I don’t really now as I’d rather not have opinions in public and also I write thousands of words of live news every day for the Guardian which has kind of taken the edge off wanting to go home and start writing more words.

I also used to write extremely long detailed lists of the year which nobody read, but here is a short one which you might. Have a cracking Christmas! Happy Holidays! Wonderful Winterval! Fantastic Festivus! and so on …

Happy Christmas from (L-R) Emma, Willow and James

BEST GIGS (OLD BANDS IN BIG VENUES): Pulp at Finsbury Park was joyous, Duran Duran at the O2 were tremendous fun, Depeche Mode at Twickenham was the best and (post-Andy) the most emotionally affecting I’d seen them in years and years, but Blur at Wembley Stadium was just an amazingly brilliant experience and tops the lot.

Blur at Wembley Stadium

BEST GIGS (NEW BANDS IN SMALL VENUES): I do still listen to new music despite being older than the hills. The things I enjoyed most this year were Panic Shack, Modern Woman, and The New Eves.

Modern Woman at Rockaway Beach 2023

EXTREMELY MOST ANNOYING GIG OF THE YEAR: Paul Weller deciding that, while supporting Blur at a packed Wembley, he’d play virtually nothing anybody knew. Cheers mate, thanks. Really added to the joy of the day there.

BEST FILMS (NEW FILMS): I can’t recommend Bottoms (2023 – Emma Seligman) enough for transgressive queer humour, and I was also a big fan of Sissy (2022 – Kane Senes and Hannah Barlow) and Sick Of Myself (2022 – Kristoffer Borgli) for moments of absolute shock about what had just been done on screen.

The brilliant ensemble cast of Bottoms.

Past Lives (2023 – Celine Song) and Close (2022 – Lukas Dhont) I found deeply emotionally affecting for days afterwards.

Gustav De Waele and Eden Dambrine in Close.

Apocalypse Clown (2023 – George Kane) had the best political punchline at the end of anything I saw this year.

Natalie Palamides, David Earl and Fionn Foley blundering through Ireland somewhere

Blue Jean (2022 – Georgia Oakley) and L’immensità (2022 – Emanuele Crialese) told two different but rewarding tales of growing up LGBTQ+ in an oppressively straight environment.

Rosy McEwen in Blue Jean.

I was one of the people who loved Tár (2022 – Todd Field), and Aftersun (2022 – Charlotte Wells) was as good as everybody said it was.

Cate Blanchett in Tár.

BEST FILMS (OLD FILMS): M (1931 – Fritz Lang) remains strikingly shot with a tense morally ambiguous finale, Rashomon (1950 – Akira Kurosawa) is a storytelling masterpiece, and La Jetée (1962 – Chris Marker) is a time travel-themed work I should have seen before.

BEST FILMS (DOCUMENTARY): Riotsville, USA (2022 – Sierra Pettengill) was a genuinely shocking look at an under-documented aspect of US civil rights struggle history.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Enys Men had all the ingredients to be right up my street but I didn’t enjoy it at all.

BEST EPISODE OF DOCTOR WHO: The Church at Ruby Road. I got to see the preview. You can watch it tomorrow at 5.55pm on BBC One and on Disney+ worldwide.

Ncuti Gatwa in Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road

FAVOURITE ARTICLES I WROTE FOR THE GUARDIAN: I didn’t do much this year except war and disasters, but I did enjoy interviewing the people behind two different plays about the Enfield poltergeist – Seeing double: two visions of the Enfield poltergeist visit English theatres.

The Enfield Poltergeist at the Tabard

BEST QUIZ OF THE YEAR: The Guardian Thursday quiz.

BEST M-ORCHESTRA RELEASES OF THE YEAR: Take your pick, this year I released two EPs (Timepiece Unlocked and Ghosts on VHS) and one album (The Ugly Child).

BEST FOOTBALL OF THE YEAR: Gillingham 2-0 Leyton Orient, 18 April, Priestfield Stadium. Not because of the result on the night, but because with about twenty minutes to go there was a power-cut, which meant the stadium only had emergency lighting, and then by the time somebody had put the proverbial 10p into the meter, with the delay and results elsewhere, we knew that Leyton Orient would be promoted to League One, regardless of the outcome on the night. We went on to win the League Two title, but that was the night we celebrated on the pitch that the O’s were going up.

A power-cut at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium