Saturday 31 December 2016

2016: The View from Here

New Year's Eve, and I began the day in style by falling out of bed, which I don't recommend (and no, I wasn't drunk) - but now it's time to look back on 2016. Not on world events - dramatic though they've been (I've touched on all that here) - nor on the relentless succession of notable deaths, but on some of the highlights of my year, as reflected on this blog.
 In January - and how long ago it seems - I was in the fine city of Wellington, enjoying the family, encountering new butterflies and birds, and reading Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away, Michel Houellebecq's Submission and F.M. Mayor's The Rector's Daughter - also visiting Katherine Mansfield's childhood home.
  Back in Blighty, I enjoyed an exhibition of work by Roland Collins - the start of a good year's gallery haunting that included Pre-Raphaelite drawings at Leighton House, George Shaw's My Back to Nature at the National Gallery, Opus Anglicanum at the V&A, Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy, Edward Ardizzone at the House of Illustration, and Rodin and Dance at the Courtauld - not to mention an art-rich week in Venice in September.
  By contrast, my only visit to the theatre was an experience to forget, though my only visit to the cinema, on the other hand, was an absolute joy - Hail, Caesar!
  It was another good year for church crawling and church monuments (a growing obsession), my travels taking me from Hertfordshire to Derbyshire (and again), CheshireNottinghamshire and a wondrous collection of newly restored monuments in Northamptonshire.
  A spring walking holiday in the Mani - a feast of Byzantine art,  sunshine, butterflies and wild flowers - included a memorable visit to Patrick Leigh Fermor's house.
  The English weather was iffy - much of the spring cool and wet, and early summer bright but cool. However, high summer and early autumn were glorious, and I had a terrific butterfly year - the Year of the Hairstreak - about which I've written already.
  My reading (of books new to me) included Javier Marias (twice), Sylvia Townsend Warner's The Corner that Held Them, J.L. Carr's The Battle of Pollock's Crossing, and Adam Nicolson's The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters, and I discovered the novelist Elizabeth Jenkins.  
  What else? I followed The Dabbler onto Facebook, made a return visit to a long-ago boyhood haunt, ditched my electric lawn mower and went manual, and invented a new cocktail - the Nigroni.
 As I said, I'm not going to rehearse the year's death toll, but cannot ignore the sad loss of England's greatest poet, Geoffrey Hill. To end on a happier note, though, America's greatest, Richard Wilbur, is still with us. I celebrated his 95th birthday with this.
 A Happy New Year to all my readers - and try not to fall out of bed...


  1. Happy new year Nige! Keep on truckin.

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  3. Happy New Year. And quite right: look back on all the good things and see how best to enjoy more of them in the year to come.