Wednesday 14 December 2022

That Was The Year That Was: 2022

This is the twelfth time I've recapped a year like this (for completists, here are the others); I nearly didn't bother, on the grounds that I consume so little new material, and no-one cares about my opinion. So I was going to give it a swerve...

...but then had an attackers of blogger's guilt. So here we are ... if "here" is realising that what I "consume" these days is, more than ever, driven by my notional roles of father and partner than by my own individual, personal taste. Especially what I watch, as will become apparent.

But enough prevarication; let's crack on with this load of old balls and see how little new stuff I've tried this year.

Best album

Suede, Autofiction
When I wrote about Autofiction by Suede earlier in the year I described it as "a faster, heavier sound than most of the output from their Indian summer" and that it "might just be their best Bernard-less album". I stand by all that; here's a band, 30+ years after they started and with no small amount of drama in their history, still sounding exciting, still sounding like they're trying. Highly recommended and my album of the year. Honourable mentions: Johnny Marr for Fever Dreams Pts 1-4; The Smile for A Light For Attracting Attention.

Best song

I though Suede were going to have this stitched up too, with the excellent She Still Leads Me On but no, the nod goes to Graham Coxon's new project Waeve, for the sheer brilliance and audacious ear-wormery that is Something Pretty - once heard, never forgotten. Reformation nostalgia enormo-gigs might be his pension plan, but he's still the most interesting quarter of Blur.

Best gig

Morrissey live, Brighton Centre, 14 Oct 2022
It's been a quiet year, gig-wise. So, excellent (in very different ways) though Crowded House and Half Man Half Biscuit were, this is a toss-up between two old men: Paul Weller at the local uni, early in the year, and Morrissey, in Brighton, as autumn got up and running. There's nothing in it, they were both excellent. I ought to give Paul the nod, it's the socially acceptable answer, but I'm going for SPM, the deciding factor being that I had The Man Of Cheese for company in Brighton, and a gig shared is almost always better than a lone gig.

Best book

I've read a few books this year, but not many of them are new for 2022. In fact, I think Fairy Tale by Stephen King is the only book published this year that I've read so far. So that ought to win, but it won't. The best book I've read this year, by some distance, is Fallout by Sadie Jones; I summarised it at the time as a "supremely well-written tale of love, lust, lies and liaisons, set against a beautifully-realised evocation of early 70s theatreland," and if that doesn't whet your appetite, nothing will. Jones also has a new book out, Amy & Lan, that I haven't read yet but already predict will be in the running for this accolade, if you can call it that, next year. Oh, and I should also give a mention to Headhunters by Jo Nesbo, as that would have got the nod if not for Sadie.

Best film

I am somewhat embarrassed by the paucity of films I've been to see this year. Indeed, most of the films I've seen have been for the benefit of Amusements Minor. So whilst I'm sure there have been plenty of good films out there, the pick of what I've seen in 2022 is Spiderman: No Way Home, which is an indecent amount of fun and even managed to prise some grudging admiration for Tobey Maguire's Peter from the boy. I should also give honourable mentions to Netflix's Don't Look Up, the biting climate-change analogy that everyone should watch, and, for sheer ludicrous spectacle, Top Gun: Maverick. Blimey: remember when I used to watch real films?

Best television

Even if not up to the dazzling standards of earlier series, Ghosts has continued to be a joy - there's a Christmas Day special coming too, if you're interested. And I've watched the Alex Rider series on Amazon Prime's annoyingly-named Freevee channel, and that has been a hoot, real whole-family-watching-together television (decent theme song too). But other that that it's been a slow year for TV, at Amusements Towers, at least. I'll edit this later if I suddenly remember something but at the moment I can't think of a standout highlight. Sorry!

Best sport

Leah Williamson at Euro 2022
Easy to forget, in the aftermath of Qatar and the inevitable disappointment of losing as soon as we come up against a top-tier team, that actually England won a major football trophy this year. And were quite brilliant doing it, so much so that the Lionesses scooping the Euros is my sporting highlight of the year, not just for the achievement but hopefully for the permanent change they have triggered in football in this country. I'll give an honourable mention to my individual sports personality of the year too, pro cyclist Imogen Cotter, who suffered a potentially career-ending (life-ending!) injury in training at the start of the year and has been nothing short of inspirational fighting back from it ever since. Just, wow.

Person of the year

Paul McCartney with Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen at Glastonbury 2022
For a long time, it looked like money-saving expert Martin Lewis had this in the bag, championing the poor of the nation and speaking truth to power too. It seems impossible for me to fathom that so many are so poor, struggling so badly, in what is still the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. But we are where we are. So well done, Martin, your efforts have helped so many. But my person of the year is Paul McCartney, headlining Glastonbury at 80 years of age, and doing an excellent job of it. He's basically a very few years younger than my old man who, on occasion, struggles a bit to headline the armchair. So well done Paul - I hope you tour at least once more, so I can finally see you live.

Tool of the year

I need a bigger toolbox ... where shall we start? Johnson, Truss, Kwarteng, Sunak, Patel, Braverman, Rees-Mogg, Shapps, Hancock, Dorries. We need shot of them all from public life, from public service, because they do us all a dis-service, to say the least. Further afield? Man-child Putin, throwing missiles and young Russians onto the bonfire of his own vanity, a possible comeback from Trump, the dollar-enabled kid-in-a-candy-store that is Elon Musk, the Oscars implosion of Will Smith, the angsty proclamations of minor royals enjoying major privilege, the perma-tanned barrel-scraping and down-dumbed miasma of reality television, those who are famous for being famous, anyone who applauds themselves on television, oh Jesus, I could go on. I'm not going to pick one person... I'm just begging, hoping beyond hope that 2023 is better.

Well, blogger's guilt, I hope that was worth it. But reader ... how was it for you?


  1. I shall come back to this when less pushed for time but just have to say quickly now - my quote of the year will now be " my old man who, on occasion, struggles a bit to headline the armchair." Brilliant.

    1. To be fair to him though, if tea-drinking were a sport he'd be an Olympian.

  2. I still care about your opinion. Especially when it involves No Way Home.

    1. I realised after I wrote this that I probably saw that in the last days of 2021. But sod it, it's the best film I've seen at the cinema in the last twelve months, easily.

  3. I'm thinking you should have invested in a tool shed, agree with your call on Suede

    1. I could open a branch of Screwfix, to be honest.

  4. The very existence of The Waeve passed me by completely, but now that I've listened to it, bloody hell 'Something Pretty' really is a corker. Thanks for the intro Martin.
    With regards to the many tools in your toolbox, I'm reminded of a quote by the late great Linda Smith, which went something along the lines of '...I don't really like you saying their names, because it gives them the oxygen of publicity and I'm not that happy with them having the oxygen of oxygen to be quite honest...'

  5. Thanks for sharing these picks Martin - will have to get my thinking cap on and consider my own highlights. Certainly wasn't anticipating Paul McCartney to pop up as Person of the Year but I would have to agree that despite his voice not being what it was, his 2-and-a-half-hour set at Glastonbury was a highlight of the summer and has made me feel a bit more optimistic about the aging process. Do what you love and you'll never have to work again is the old adage, isn't it. Seems to have worked for Paul.

    And yes, there isn't a toolbox big enough to fit them all in this year. We've been hoping that 'next year will be a better one' since I started blogging in 2016. We can but hope.

    1. I hadn't anticipated Macca being my person of the year, but I so enjoyed watching his Glasto set, even if only on telly.

  6. A great list. Apart from that loon from Manchester. Agree with you re Macca and I too totally missed Waeve.

    1. Cheers. Am quite excited about The Waeve.