Tuesday, January 16, 2007

2006 at a glance

In case posterity is paying attention

Key adjectives: overworked, overscheduled, overwrought, exhausted
Published words (print): approx. 42,800
Published words (online): it would take too long to count; est. 40,000?
Month in which I did not blog: December
Months in which I blogged most: February, April, and--over at the Galvanize blog--September and October
Emails written: approx. 6,600
Emails received (excl. junk): approx. 8,700
Photos taken: approx. 3,000
Major authors: John Keats, V.S. Naipaul, Bruce Chatwin, Ted Hughes
Reading highlights: E. Waugh, Sword of Honour; M. Swan, The Marches of El Dorado; N. Shakespeare, Bruce Chatwin; B. Chatwin, On the Black Hill; K. Desai, The Inheritance of Loss; rereading Naipaul's A Way in the World, Chabon's Wonder Boys, and Waugh's early comic novels; a flurry of books about India at year-end
Major literary pilgrimage: lunch in what was once Walter Pater's room, Brasenose College, Oxford, 10 July
Books read (at least two thirds of): approx. 60
Soundtrack: jointpop ("King Radio", "After Half Past Nine", "The Water Supreme", etc.); Rufus Wainwright (Want One); Jeff Buckley (Grace); Miles Davis (Kind of Blue); Bach, Mozart, Satie (various)
Favourite work of art acquired: C. Cozier, Available in All Leading Stores, 2006 (gift from the artist)
Best movie: The Squid and the Whale (N. Baumbach), StudioFilmClub, 4 May
Best live musical performances: 3Canal, 6 February (preview night of the 2006 3Canal Show); jointpop, 6 May (their tenth anniversary concert, coinciding with my birthday); jointpop, 26 July (performing as "Jimmy Crime and the Murderer" at the Little Carib); Miriam Makeba, 31 July (the Emancipation concert I "crashed" with the help of Attillah); jointpop, 15 August (the first night of the Anarchy on the Avenue series); Royal Opera Chamber Ensemble, performing Dominique Le Gendre's Tales of the Islands, Queen's Hall, 27 August; 12 the band, 30 September (their Galvanize performance); jointpop, 10 October (at Anarchy on the Avenue, first time I heard them play "The Fool"); jointpop, 14 October (their Galvanize "unplugged" performance, first time I ever heard them play "King Radio")
Best party: Galvanize launch, 14 September, CCA7, Laventille
Trips to the beach: 3
Months abroad: 1.25
Countries visited: 2
Aborted attempts to visit Guyana: 4
Modes of transport: airplane, car, train, auto-rickshaw, feet
Airplane flights: 6
Furthest point south: San Fernando, Trinidad
Furthest point west: Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Furthest point north: Oxford, UK
Furthest point east: Delhi, India
Most visited restaurant: Apsara, Queen's Park East, Port of Spain
Strange beds slept in: 8
Palaces visited: 3
Longest airport security queue: 0.125 miles, Heathrow, 23 December
Key purchases: Sacred Heart Carnival costume (Minshall mas camp, Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain); favourite blue shirt (H&M, Longacre, London); 75-litre rucksack (The North Face); maps of India (Stanfords, Longacre, London); painted goatskin leather lampshade (Dilli Haat, Delhi, India)
I still do not own: a car, real estate
Most unexpected good thing: starting a year's sabbatical in December
Other misc. highlights: Mariel's dinner party, 28 January; watching "Son of Saga Boy" and "Miss Universe" cross the Savannah stage for the first time at the Kings and Queens Prelims, 16 February; wearing an illuminated tail for J'Ouvert, 27 February; crossing the Savannah stage with Minshall's Sacred Heart, Carnival Tuesday evening, 28 February; being quoted (twice) by Edward Baugh in his address at the West Indian Literature Conference, UWI, St Augustine, 2 March; Phagwah celebrations, Aranjuez Savannah, 19 March; watching the Soca Warriors beat--sorry, draw with--Sweden at our first World Cup match ever, 10 June; visit to Sir John Soane's Museum, 5 July; balmy, blissful trip to Oxford to visit Vahni and David, 10 and 11 July; Galvanize literary events, 29 September ("News That Stays News") and 19 October ("Monsters and Other Animals"); first day of sabbatical year, 2 December; gentle days in Jaipur, 9 to 12 December; Global Voices Delhi summit, and lots of interesting people from all over the world, 16 and 17 December; lunch with Phil and Louise in Islington, tea with Patrick in Tooting, The History Boys in the West End, and Karen and Andy's Xmas party in Tufnell Park, all in one day, 22 December
Encounters with important people from my past who I hadn't seen in over ten years: 2
Hopeless crushes: 3
New pets: 0
Cups of coffee: approx. 380
Cups of tea: approx. 1,200
Glasses of Champagne: 6
Red Bulls: 1
Omlettes: approx. 150
Evenings I attended three different dinner parties: 1
Nights I didn't get to bed till 4 a.m.: 0
Average bedtime: 11.50 pm
Average wake-up time: 8 a.m.
Nights I felt I didn't get enough sleep: approx. 350
Unofficial motto: Don't slow down

[Compare to last year]

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Bad writing does nothing, changes nothing, educates no emotions, rewires no inner circuitry -- we close its covers with the same metaphysical confidence in the universality of our own interface as we did when we opened it."
A pseudo-autobiographical quincunx; or, doing as Oso tells me, sort of *

1. My earliest definite memory is of lying in my little cot in a beach house on the south coast of Barbados, unable to sleep; through the mist of the mosquito net, one of my great-aunts peering down at me. I must have been three years old. It was a hot night, and I could hear waves breaking and trees rustling outside the window. I also thought I could hear hundreds of sand-crabs scrabbling beneath the floorboards.

2. My favourite constellation is Orion. Anywhere in the world, if I can spot him in the sky above, I feel a little more at home. Once, swimming on a moonless, starful night at Blanchisseuse on the north coast of Trinidad, I looked up and realised he was a perfect mirror image of me, floating on my back with limbs outspread. Since then, stars have always suggested the taste of seawater. I have often contemplated getting a tiny tattoo of Orion, a pattern of minute inked stars on my inner left forearm, just below my elbow; only my absolute intolerance of physical pain has stopped me.

3. Is it possible to have an erotic relationship with someone who died a century and a half before you were born? If so, that's how I feel about Keats. In my imaginary correspondence with him, I call him "My dear John". Plot for an unwritten novel: Keats goes to Rome to die of consumption, but instead meets a mysterious doctor who administers a supernatural cure. Side-effect: prolonged life and youth. He never returns to London, and refuses to publish another word. His name fades into undeserved obscurity, now that his biography is deprived of the glamour of a tragic early death. Unread manuscripts fill every room of his little pink house at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Every morning he visits the same cafe round the corner. One day, when he's well into his 180s, he meets there a young Trinidadian who has come in quest of....

4. I've sinned a lot, I'm mean a lot, but I'm like sweet seventeen a lot.

5. Occasionally, for purposes of entertainment only, I dabble in bibliomancy. As often as not, I simply use the dictionary (twenty-year-old edition of the Concise Oxford). About a third of the time, the results seem in some way apt, but that may just be a statistical consequence. This morning, let me pluck from the shelf my Penguin Major Works of Thomas Browne. Page 152, 15th line from the top: "There is no man alone, because every man is a Microcosme, and carries the whole world about him; Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus...."

* After two months of silence, this is as good as--as equivocal as--any other way to return to blogging. Thanks, David.

[Nearly forgot: I'm supposed to nominate a quintet of blogging colleagues to perpetuate this stream of revelations. Be good sports: Jonathan; JT; Attillah (who seems to be into making lists these days, when she's not breaking people's glasses); Marlon; and you, Reader, whoever you may be, or wish to be.]