Saturday 31 December 2022

New Year, Old Year

 As 2023 hoves improbably into view, it's time to take the annual look back at the Old Year...
   It was a momentous one for me and Mrs N, being the year in which we finally said goodbye to the Suburban Demiparadise and began a new life in Mercia's ecclesiastical capital, birthplace of Johnson, City of Philosophers etc, Lichfield. Getting from that A to that B has been a saga – The Merciad, you might call it, and it would be even more tedious than most sagas. I am not going to relate it here, but all that move-related and family-related busyness has certainly had an effect on the blog: I seem to have been reading fewer books than usual, there has been less in the way of nature notes, only one serious walk chronicled (and surprisingly few church visits) – and, for the first time since records began, not a single major art exhibition visited or reviewed.  But what have been the high points?
 Well, on the poetry front, I have been finding yet more to enjoy in Thom Gunn, admiring Charles Causley's later work, discovering Ned Balbo and Dick Davis. I was not disappointed by rereading Marilynne Robinson's classic Housekeeping, and among the books I enjoyed most were Javier Marías's The Infatuations, P.J. Kavanagh's memoir The Perfect Stranger, James Shapiro's Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? and Michael Wharton's The Missing Will. I completed the Auberon Waugh Project by reading, and enjoying, A Bed of Flowers. Any new books I read were for review elsewhere, but among them was one to cherish – C.B. Newham's Country Church Monuments. And I actually read one almost new novel, Sol Riviere's Dead Souls, and loved it. In the course of the year, I have had some wonderful musical moments, many of which I have posted here, and have repeatedly played Vikingur Olafsson's glorious Debussy Rameau CD. At present I am without a CD player, and with most of my books in storage. Not for long, I devoutly hope...
  In the wider world, the Platinum Jubilee and then the death and funeral of the Queen were huge events, and, I think, heartening in what they told us about the true nature of this much falsified, much vilified England. That the Queen's death marked the end of an era is a truism, but no less true for that: we live in a deeply changed world now, partly as a result of that loss, partly (I am convinced) by the endlessly ramifying and deepening destructive effects of the Lockdown Years – but this is not the time to dwell on that... In a narrower world, two big literary centenaries meant there was more of Kingsley Amis and even more of Philip Larkin than usual on this blog, and the Ralph Vaughan Williams sesquicentenary, fittingly celebrated on Radio 3, gave me much listening pleasure.  
  Pleasure is supposed to be what this blog, this 'hedonic resource', is all about, so that would be a good place to leave this retrospective, and wish to everyone who browses here a very happy and prosperous new year. Cheers!


  1. Nice roundup :) And many more, Nige.

  2. A happy new year to you too. I’m looking forward to another year of reading your blogs.

  3. This is a superbly sustained blog. It nourishes, I suspect, many who enjoy your pieces greatly but who are not inclined regularly (or at all) to comment or express their appreciation.

    I am sure you know that we are here.

  4. Well, thank you all. It's cheering to know that what I write here is being enjoyed.