Thursday 19 December 2019

That Was The Year That Was: 2019

A Brexit stamp
This is the ninth time I've recapped a year like this (for completists, here are the others), but this time it's going to be brief - just winners, maybe the occasional runner-up. Why? I'm tired and time-poor, and this nonsense doesn't write itself. Plus, you know, I'm no influencer and nobody really gives a monkeys about what I think. Yes, that makes this whole post an exercise in vanity ... but exercise is good for you, right?

Best album

I haven't bought many new albums again this year but, of the few I have, The Modern Age by Sleeper is most worthy of a mention. Everything you want (and expect) from a Sleeper album, after all this time. Who'd have thought? Also brilliant (but a bit of a cheat, being a compilation) was Best Of Billy Bragg At The BBC 1983 - 2019 - something fundamental is wrong with you if you don't love this. Another compilation worth a listen is the Killing Eve, Season One & Two Soundtrack - a brilliant, evocative, eclectic mix. And don't judge me but I enjoyed California Son, by he who shall not be named, more than I expected.

Best song

Ghost by Such Small Hands (aka Melanie Howard, bassist with The Wedding Present) wins here, a slice of ethereal beauty. A runners-up spot here for Pixies, with On Graveyard Hill, which is much more of a blunt instrument but is still tremendously effective.

Best gig

It's been another good year for gigs. Paul Weller in Thetford Forest was pretty special. The Specials, together again, were also pretty ... er ... special. But I've seen The Wedding Present three times this year and they've been brilliant every time, even with the maternity/paternity-enforced new line-up of the most recent gig. Clear winners.

Best book

Best I've read this year? No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. Best I've read that was published this year? The Sea Inside Me by Sarah Dobbs. Best I've been involved with this year? Oh ... none. Must. Write. More.

Best film

I haven't been to the cinema as often as I might like and, even when I have it has often been to see screenings of old films (Carrie and Misery stand out here). Best new film I've seen this year is Doctor Sleep (spot the King theme emerging), but I must also give a mention to How To Train Your Dragon - The Hidden World which unexpectedly caused me to get something in my eye. Don't ask.

Best television

Usually the most fiercely contended category but this year, an easy choice, with Years and Years getting the nod. Inventive, speculative fiction that seems more prescient with every day that passes.

Best comedy

I was lucky enough to be in the studio audience for a recording of Dave Gorman's new TV show, Terms and Conditions Apply. Paul Merton and Alfie Moore were also both very good.

Best sport

This might be a minority view but the sporting highlights of 2019 for me were Dina Asher-Smith in the World Championships 200m and especially Katarina Johnson-Thompson bringing home gold in the heptathlon at the same meet. Both utterly brilliant. Yes, cricket and Ben Stokes; yes, Lewis Hamilton again. But Dina and Kat were my golden moments.

And that's it for another year. Yes, I know, even fewer categories than in year's gone by. I was going to add a Politics category, and re-introduce the Man/Woman/Tool of the Year categories, but those four all got messed up in my head, and it started to get a bit depressing. And it has been a depressing year. Better, then, just to keep this to the highlights, and hope that 2020 is better.


  1. I give a monkey's... but I understand your lack of time. Have a good Christmas.

  2. As Rol says, I do too. Your line-up here is a great summary of a classy cultural immersion which offsets the shitty state of affairs around us. Indeed it has been a depressing year in many ways... but determined not to let the bastards grind us down.

    1. Thanks, C. You're right, of course - gotta keep on keepin' on.