2021: What Kind of Year Has It Been? Plus Plans for 2022

Believe it or not, but this is actually my new year post, regardless of the fact that it’s being posted partway into the second month of the year. Wait, the second month of the year? As in, this new year began OVER A MONTH AGO?!? Whilst my mind continues to recover from reeling over the ongoing and what should be by now highly anticipatory passing of time, let’s get into how last year, 2021, panned out for me. As usual, we’ll be doing this in terms of the aims I set out at the start of last year.

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How’d it go? – September 2021

In September we took our now annual trip to Scotland, which was wonderful despite the best efforts of Stanley, my mother-in-law’s satanic spaniel who did his best to ruin every waking moment of the trip. Fortunately he failed, and we had a wonderful trip that I’d love to tell you more about but frankly there’s just no time! Instead, here’s the relatively few films I watched that month:

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How’d it go? – August 2021

I genuinely started writing this in August, and now it’s near the end of December and I’m five months behind! As such this post will just be short reviews of the films I saw in August, with my original post opening left in because I’ve already written it. The next few months – which I’m hoping to write before the end of the year but let’s not get our collective hopes up – will also just be film reviews, and I’ll tidy everything else up in an end-of-year wrap up post like usual. Apologies for the lack of activity here recently, it’s been a busy few months!

August is my birthday month, and saw me turn a frankly unbelievable 34. How I’ve made it this far is truly astonishing. For my birthday my wife and I went to London for the weekend under the ruse of going out for dinner, visiting some markets and having a general weekend away, but really so that we could buy a new sofa. I won’t go into it. Anyway, we had a mostly nice time (it’s easy to forget just how uncomfortably busy and crowded London can be, especially after over a year of mostly not going anywhere with anyone), and whilst in the queue for the Lego shop, in which my wife treated me to an R2D2 that’s currently presiding over the lounge, I spotted British comedian James Acaster a few spots ahead of me in the queue. If you don’t know James Acaster, get thee to Youtube and enjoy the next few days of content you’ll find, I can particularly recommend his cabbage-related escapades, check out his food-related podcast Off Menu and also cast your mind back to my Taskmaster contestant rankings, in which he achieved the silver medal just below Sally Phillips. Needless to say, I’m a fan, but he was clearly with family and so I didn’t bother him. Also I couldn’t foresee that conversation going very well, given that I was standing in the queue for the Lego store on my own 34th birthday, about to have my wife buy me what many believe to be a child’s toy of a robot from a child’s film. He also left the queue before going into the shop, so there was no chance of accidentally brushing past him and a faux “Oh, hey, you’re James Acaster! I love your podcast! Be my best friend etc.” Anyway, now I’ve been in or by the same shop as two contestants from season 7 of Taskmaster, after I spotted Rhod Gilbert in a second hand book shop in Hay-on-Wye. Kerri Godliman, Jessica Knappett and Phil Wang, I’m coming for you to complete the set!
As I’m monumentally behind on these posts there’ll be no updates on anything other than films this month, other than to say I still haven’t finished the Bill Bryson book, I very foolishly decided to fit a half marathon in at the end of July with Bournemouth Parkrun in the middle of it, which brought my shin splints back and put me out of running action once again, from which I’m still in recovery. I’ve been less grumpy this time, tried to eat more fruit, but also discovered (invented?) flights of cheese sandwiches. We had an abundance of cheese in our fridge (don’t ask) and I’ve been having four or five small cheese sandwiches, all different cheeses, some with chutneys, for lunch most days. Turns out I don’t hate all blue cheeses like I used to, and Sainsbury’s do a particularly creamy gorgonzola. You can all guess what that means health-wise, so let’s get into the films, shall we?

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How’d it go? – July 2021

Let’s not waste any time this month, shall we? The highlights of my July were receiving my second Pfizer vaccine shot (hooray!) with, once again, practically no side effects, and going to a Titanic-themed escape room with my family, followed by the first meal out at a restaurant I’ve had in literally longer than I can remember. The meal wasn’t great, but it was wonderful just eating somewhere different. The escape room (https://www.houdinisescape.co.uk/) was initially purchased as a Father’s Day gift for my Dad two years ago which we’d booked to do in early 2020, but had to reschedule it due to the whole pandemic and whatnot. It was a lot of fun, with some puzzle-types I hadn’t come across before, although the experience might have been improved if it hadn’t been the hottest day of the year and we didn’t have to wear thick life jackets over our clothes. The host for the show was incredible though, he really knew his stuff. We’d meant to watch Titanic the night before but alas ran out of time, but that’s fine, I’ve seen it so many times that I can just play it in my mind.

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How’d it go? – June 2021

June felt like a very short month full of very long weeks. Whether this was due to the constant pressure of finishing the previous “How’d it go?” post (I literally didn’t start it until halfway through May, then scrambled to finish it before the end) or because the work weeks dragged and the weekends flew by I cannot say. The main breakthrough from this month was, despite last month’s misgivings, I went to the cinema! And then, I went to the cinema again, for a double-bill! We’ll get into the films soon, but I immediately take back my lack of enthusiasm for going back to the big screen; watching A Quiet Place Part II was far better in a big, dark, loud room than it could ever have been at home. I was more engaged, engrossed and emotionally invested knowing I couldn’t pause the film or do something else at the same time, and I’d taken that for granted in the year since I’d last been. Of course, when it came to the second visit I was, as per tradition, a little late to the first film (Fast & Furious 9) but that had about 30 minutes of ads and trailers, so nothing was missed. I’d allocated 20 minutes between films to grab a bite to eat, but the extra trailers from Fast 9 and a very busy entertainment complex meant my plans ran long and I was once again a little late to the second screening (In The Heights). I figured it would be fine given the trailer quantity of the first film, but it turned out for this screening they’d opted for practically no trailers whatsoever, and I’d missed the first 5 minutes. Fortunately the entire first musical number is on Youtube as a trailer, so I’ve caught up now but I was very frustrated with myself for the first half hour or so of the film.

Speaking of films, let’s get into them, shall we? Oh, and as this is the halfway point post for the year, I’ll be providing updates for where I am with everything resolution-wise. Spoiler alert, I’m not doing well!

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How’d it go? – May 2021

To me, May felt like an exceptionally long month that was both eventful and really dragged along. It’s been a pretty dour month for reasons I’ll soon get into, but I’m aware that many friends of mine, some of whom may be reading this, have had a horrendously tough go of things lately and I want to let them know that I’m here if they ever want to chat. I’ve told most of them this personally, but if you’re having a rough patch and need someone to talk to, drop me a line. So what was up with my May? Well, it was a bit of a rollercoaster, and much of it I don’t want to dwell on too much, so here’s the highlights:
– Murphy, our beloved 6-year old labradoodle-slash-tornado, had a bit of a scare that required an urgent rush to the vets one weekday night. He was really down, off his food, unresponsive etc. Turns out he was absolutely fine, we still don’t know for certain what was wrong with him, he’s all better now and we’ve found out he has an exceptionally large spleen but it’s nothing to worry about. That’ll be £360, please and thank you.
– I received my first vaccine shot, very unexpectedly. For those of you not in England, the vaccine rollout here has been pretty slow, with it initially being available only to those most in need (the elderly, at-risk and frontline workers, which absolutely makes sense and I have no problem with) then they gradually decreased the age at which people were eligible for it. Very gradually. I’m now eligible, but in early May when I received my shot I wasn’t, but the mother of a friend at work heard of some spare vaccines that would otherwise be thrown away if we didn’t get there shortly. Long story short, we waited for almost 2 hours, received shots, and whilst my buddy’s arm went completely dead soon after I received no ill effects whatsoever. Hooray!
– I was due to have a weekend all to my lonesome – something that hasn’t happened in a very long time – when my wife took the dogs up to see her parents now that travelling and staying over is allowed. It also coincided with the cinemas reopening, so I put two and two together and came up with at least one solid day of theatre-hopping to see whatever might be showing, but at the very least Kong Vs Godzilla (or vice versa, who cares?). Alas she had a work emergency that delayed her leaving for a day and required my assistance (which, I want to clarify, I didn’t mind offering at all), and my Dad got wind of me being alone without those pesky pups and figured it’d be the opportune time for he and I to lay a patio together, and that the next day I could then pop round to their house and see my grandparents, who I hadn’t seen in well over a year. As in literally not even seen on a phone, they don’t quite comprehend Zoom calls. It was great to see them, and my sister’s new house, and to make progress on the patio, but it was far from the relaxing me-focussed weekend I’d been hoping for.
– And yeah, at the time of writing I still haven’t been back to the cinema, and to be honest I’m not really that bothered. I don’t miss it, mainly due to the time factor. If I’m going to see a 2-hour film, you need to add at least thirty minutes either side for travelling, and as my local cinema showings vary from having 10-30 minutes of ads and trailers, you can’t afford to be very late at all. So that 2-hour films is now eating up at least 3 1/2 hours of your day, and my days are already pretty full! Obviously I’m going to go to the cinema again sometime, but looking ahead at upcoming movies there’s precious few for which I’m not thinking “Meh, I can wait ’til that’s streaming.”
– Easily the main event that’s got me down this month, and which is sparking my recent obsession with time, is that I’m now working back in the office full time, whereas I’ve been mostly working from home for about 4 months now. I’ve loved working from home. There are fewer distractions, lunchtimes are accompanied by doggy playtimes and often involve better food and the company of my wife, and the lack of commute has been heaven. I cycle to work, which allowing for getting changed takes about 45 minutes each way, so that’s an hour and a half I’ve now lost every day. Yes, it’s good exercise and a decent decompress after the day of work, but I’ve been doing better and more varied exercises – weights, yoga, longer dog walks – without the need for the bike rides. And my stress levels have gone up and sleep times dropped way down since I’ve been back in the office. It’s not good at all, but I am of course grateful to have a job, and to have had one all throughout the lockdowns.
– All that being said, because I was having such a shitty month and I had a little extra cash rattling in the bank account, I decided to treat myself to the Jurassic Park Gate and T-Rex Lego set I’ve been ogling since its release. It’s due to be discontinued next year, and I finally broke down and bought it. I haven’t finished building it yet – it’s huge and I’m pacing myself – but expect some photos next month.
So that was supposed to be a brief run through of the month, but I’ve already rambled on for way too long. Let’s skip to the movies, shall we?

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How’d it go? – April 2021

Just like March, April just sort of disappeared from under me without anything major really happening. Genuinely I think the most exciting thing that happened was I got a haircut, for the first time since November. What a thrilling life I lead.

April did see the Oscars take place, but I did not. At the time of the ceremony I’d only seen three of the best picture nominees and very few of the films nominated for acting or indeed many other awards. I’d caught all the animated feature nominees, but that wasn’t exactly an exciting race this year. I recorded the ceremony, heard it was terrible, and so haven’t watched a single moment or highlight reel. If there’s some aspect I should check out, please let me know, but otherwise it’ll get deleted from my SkyQ box soon. Anyway, let’s cease dwelling on what I didn’t watch, and get onto what I did, shall we?

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