2016: Good or bad?


Justin Bieber, tragically still with us

I’m sure no-one out there is ignorant of the fact that a lot of bad things happened in 2016, some of which make 2017 a terrifying prospect — like Trump somehow being elected US President, ready to take office next month, or the Brexit vote bringing out the worst racist elements in British society, with the prospect of EU laws that protect workers, gay rights etc. being swept away by our increasingly right-wing government.

And, of course, there’s the people who died — David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Kenny Baker, Carrie Fisher, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Gene Wilder… as though 2014 and 2015 hadn’t been bad enough, robbing us of Dave Brockie, Robin Williams, Leonard Nimoy, Terry Pratchett…

Yeah, okay, 2016 was — broadly speaking — awful, and the rising fascist anti-human rights movements on both sides of the Atlantic will try to make things worse in 2017 for everyone (except rich white men), unless decent people oppose them at every turn… but considering how my fortunes have changed this year, can you blame me for being selfishly optimistic?

Yes, I’m hopeful that 2017 will be good for me, if no-one else; even though I’ll have to face an embarrassing birthday in October, at least now I have more money in the bank (which is to say, any at all) compared to the start of this year, so I can afford a holiday at the time.  Admittedly I spent £150 more than I took in this month, even though I didn’t need to pay my personal trainer (or pay food bills or put money on my Oyster card for the past week or so), but hey, it’s Christmas, right?  I’ve also got extra coming in next payday, after the overtime I put in this month, which should more than make up for it!

Moreover, after landing this IT job in 2015, I’ve managed to make a name for myself at my workplace, build confidence with both computers and human interaction, and prove how hard-working and indispensable I am — despite that issue at the start of the year that nearly ended it all.  Yes, Friday, 15th January 2016, the day my boss told me I was hanging by a thread, will ever live in infamy… but I’m reliably informed that she likes me now, and so do the staff!

Speaking of being appreciated: even though I’m still single, 2016 was better in dating terms for me than any previous year (with the possible exception of 1998) — simply because, in amongst the many one-off dates that went nowhere, there were three near-misses: an Indian girl with an American accent that I saw twice; a Chinese young mother from Oxford that I was almost in a long-distance relationship with; and, most recently, a Far Eastern twentysomething who I almost got to see a third time — and who proved that I’m not automatically put off by glasses-wearing or “plus-size” women, and that I’m after the whole package, not just a pretty ornament.

Considering how non-existent my love life was when I began this blog, and even before that in early 2012, I’d say things are improving, wouldn’t you?  Hell, I had zero dates in my teens, and only got to third base around the time I turned 21 because I was in another country; I didn’t really “start” dating until I was 35-going-on-36, during the summer of 2013 (as you guys know), and while late ’14 to early ’15 was a setback, largely because I was also suffering in terms of my fledgling IT career, I’ve made up for it this year.  I’m finally confident approaching women and asking them out (at least electronically), and if I’ve not found someone in ’16, that’s because I’m going to find someone better in ’17… right?

Of course, my career could go horribly wrong next year — especially if the Tories bring in American-style “at will” working (where you can be fired for literally any reason at all, just as long as you can’t prove it was down to discrimination), and make us all into temporary workers with no job security.  I hope not: while visiting my folks in Worthing is nice for Christmas, I’m certain I don’t want to move back here (2000 to ’03 was bad enough), so I need steady rent money coming in.

Similarly, I might have one too many romantic failure to cope with, and swear off women entirely; or, I might think I’m “getting lucky”, only to have false allegations destroy my life.  But why worry about such things, and why give myself an excuse to wimp out of even going out and trying, like I did in my most depressed days in 2011?  Might as well worry about my brain apparently doing funny things recently, when it was probably just caffeine and stress combined with normal feelings of “deja vu”, which aren’t entirely unusual to me at the best of times anyway.

No, I’ve got too much to live for in 2017, and I’ll have to hope that the world is gracious enough to let me enjoy my life, instead of trying to bring me down.  Indeed, my biggest hope is that the real reason Trump has chosen such evil men for his cabinet is that he expects a terrorist attack, and wants them all in one certain place at the time of the “event”, thereby performing a presidential duty.

(Am I naive for thinking he might be capable of such (ahem) goodness… or indeed, intelligent and resourceful planning?)

And if all else fails, at least I’ve got video games and TV.  I’m planning to rewatch Game of Thrones during 2017 (and watch the fifth and sixth seasons for the first time), as well as keeping up with Doctor Who, and I’ve done well out of the inevitable Christmas sale on Steam (let’s see if Alien: Isolation is anywhere near as scary as Amnesia: The Dark Descent).  Of course, if my main computer (which I need for Blu-rays as well as modern gaming) isn’t working when I get back to London, I may be in trouble… and that’s assuming I can even travel, thanks to Southern!

Damn, I’m losing my optimism again — okay, how about this: thanks to my folks, I’ve got a new (well, second-hand) smartphone for the first time since 2013, and it’s sufficiently advanced that I can finally play Pokémon GO.  Neat, huh?  Er… happy new year…


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