In fact, to be fair, I basically judge each year on the food I consumed...
So, sit back and enjoy a trip down a lane which probably contains no memories for you whatsoever, for no reason other than the fact that doing so will fill an empty ten minutes or so in your day. Hooray!
I kind of feel sorry for January. It has so much to live up to; we've just had Christmas and New Year, everyone has made resolutions and exciting plans and then boom. January arrives like a rock band's difficult second album and it inevitably struggles to live up to the hype. If January was a person, it'd be that friend of a friend who's described as being "like, totally crazy," whom you secretly dislike before even meeting.
Anyway, mid-January saw a compliment that stuck with me. A little girl told me that reading one of my children's books made her feel less alone when she was being picked on at school. It made me realise that writing is more than just a hobby of mine. It's a passion and when you get it right, it's capable of achieving more than you ever dare to hope. I also met a successful author and told her my very rough idea about writing a semi-autobiographical novel about an emotionally abusive relationship. She gave me such encouragement, that by the end of the month, the first three chapters were finished. Go me!
In February, I had a big rant about 50 Shades and the romanticism of abusive behaviour printed in a national newspaper. I mean, okay, it was The Daily Mail, BUT IT STILL COUNTS.
That picture was posed by a model. I'm not just camera-shy, honest.
I began to co-run the @50shadesabuse account on Twitter and it's something I'm still very proud to be involved with. There's nothing romantic or sexy about stalking, emotional manipulation, physical abuse disguised as BDSM, psychological abuse, coercive consent or excessive, unwanted control within a relationship. Oh and the writing is appalling as well.
I also went to see Les Mis at the cinema again in February. Well, it saves money on make-up remover, doesn't it?
All the way back in March, my fabulous friend Lydia and I booked tickets to go and see The Big Reunion on tour. Lyds was excited about seeing 5ive. I was all in a tizz over 911. The gig wasn't until May, but somehow, we managed to make our squee over the event last throughout March. We're good like that.
March was also the month in which I lost and found my hairdresser. HEY, I NEVER PROMISED YOU THIS BLOG WOULD BE INTERESTING. Yes, the fabulous Emma (what a great name...) left her former salon and went to a new one, which caused a near breakdown on my part, what with my not trusting anyone else with my unruly tresses. Thanks to some online detective work, my friend Rachel discovered Emma's new place of work and my hair was tamed once more. Hooray!
In March, I also went on quite the rant about how loved-up people need to quit telling single people to hurry up and find someone. But to be fair, I do that most months...
In April, my dog took up pipe smoking. Well, he didn't, but it sort of looks like he did. If you squint.
Apologies for being a bit serious here, but in April, I realised I was getting into the last few sessions of counselling with the women's abuse charity who'd been helping me put myself back together again, after leaving my abusive ex. As a result, many of the statements I made in April were about self-belief, personal discovery and triumph over adversity. I was - and am - proud of how far I had come. But then again, this was also the month that I went to a zoo whilst wearing a leopard print dress and subsequently panicked that something would either try to eat or mate with me, so let's not get too carried away with the self-praise...
I got a new bed in April, too (I know; I'm treating you guys to the BEST gossip of 2013), which involved having to smash up the old one, in order to take it to the dump. When opening up a drawer in the divan, I stumbled upon my collection of 911 posters/magazine interviews etc, which had remained pretty much untouched for the last 14 years...
How DARE you suggest I may have been a little obsessed?!
In May, Lydia and I were finally Cardiff-bound for The Big Reunion show. Basically, for those not in the know, The Big Reunion encouraged several pop bands - 5ive, 911, Liberty X, The Honeyz, B*Witched, Atomic Kitten and Blue - to reform and go on tour again. To say we were looking forward to it is something of an understatement. Lydia's words to me as the lights went down and the show started were: "I'M SO EXCITED, I MIGHT BE SICK."
And yet I didn't run, screaming from her, because I am a GOOD FRIEND.
The show was amazing and afterwards, we hung around by the stage door, like the well-seasoned lurkers we are. And that, friends, was where I met the man whose picture I used to sleep with when I was 14 (shut up and don't judge me). Yes, I met Lee Brennan from 911.
He held my hand and I momentarily forgot to breathe...
Because Lydia is an awesome friend - and also a geek like me - we went to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff the following day and I had a photo taken with another great love...
He didn't say much. I think he might have been shy.
And then on May 16th, I had my last ever counselling session with the abuse charity that had spent 10 months helping me rediscover the version of Emma that my ex tried so hard to destroy. The last time I saw my support worker was emotional, but we ate chocolates and cake, so it was also pretty awesome (like I said, I judge my years on food). I'd been writing lists of things my ex put me through and together, my support worker- the amazing Chloe - and I shredded that list, as a final act of freedom.
In your face, abusive ex.
In June, the sun came out and so did my floppy straw hat. I hit the beach with my friends, ate ice cream and generally allowed myself to feel totally and utterly free. I took a trip to Dartmoor Zoo with the girls and announced to everyone present that I wanted a bear for my birthday. I JUST LOVE BEARS, OKAY?!
Here are some of the creatures I saw at the zoo... Sorry girls. :-P
You know when you've not seen someone for years and then you finally meet up and it's as though no time has elapsed at all since you were last together? Well that's exactly what happened when my friend Rachel came over from Canada. Rach is a Whovian like me and we spent most of our time together putting a David Tennant doll into ridiculous poses and laughing like a couple of hyenas. Emailing one another pretty much every day has helped keep our friendship strong, but I think Rachel and I would've been fine even without that; we're just on a very similar wavelength. And that wavelength involves a whole lot of silliness.
We went out for dinner with our lovely mutual friend Lynn and I had pork. Told you I judge my years on the food I've eaten.
And the company was just as fabulous as the food.
A little later that month, I went back to one of my spiritual homes - Alton Towers - in order to indulge in my passion for rollercoasters. It may sound crazy, but strap me into a seat and chuck me off a very high drop and I'm pretty much at my happiest. Annoyingly, I was suffering with sinusitis when I went, but it didn't stop me having an amazing time. I need to go back...
I'm so close to Lydia, Michelle and Kim; we even bath together.
In August, I listed ten actors I'd like to have seen take over from Matt Smith as the Doctor in Doctor Who. I was wrong on every count. So, on the off chance that Stephen Moffat is reading this and pondering who to cast when Peter Capaldi hangs up his sonic screwdriver (and yes, I know, he hasn't even started yet): JOE GILGUN. That's all I'm saying...
This was also the month in which I went on an unexpected holiday. My gorgeous friend Lizzie wanted to go and see Stephen Mulhern perform a magic show at Butlin's in Minehead. In order to see the show, we had to actually stay there and lo - a love affair was born. Mock all you like, but Butlin's is a magical place. I drive through those gates and I'm a kid again. I mean, they have a big deckchair! What's not to love?!
A big deckchair with a massive tent behind it. COME ON!
It was a weekend on which I discovered that I am apparently at my merriest when dancing to the YMCA and trying to guess the ages of the incredibly youthful redcoats. It was also a weekend on which we ended up going clubbing with Stephen Mulhern. SUCH IS THE MAGIC OF BUTLIN'S.
Mid-month, I was also asked whether I'd been to Falmouth Art Gallery to see Julien Christophers' exhibition. When I said no, I was told that one of his works is a collage of caricatures of local and national celebrities. One of the caricatures on the collage? WAS OF ME. That's how you know you've made it, folks. ;-)
At the end of the month, I went on another holiday; jetting off to Prague with my friend Kate. It was your average trip abroad - sight-seeing, fun, foreign food etc - right up until our last night, when we ended up in a theatre, watching a show that went from "confusing" to "um... Why are their boobs out? WHY ARE THEY TOUCHING EACH OTHER LIKE THAT?!" in a worryingly short space of time. In case you're wondering, yes, it is hard to hold in a massive case of the giggles in a packed theatre, especially when angry Czech people are telling you to "ssshh."
Oh and whilst in Prague, I ate a doughnut the size of my head.
I'm not even kidding.
You can tell something has been enjoyable - possibly much more so than expected - by how quickly you want to do it again. And sure enough, in September, Lizzie and I went straight back to Butlin's, for more of that sweet, sweet big deckchair action. If there's anything more ridiculously fun than getting all dressed up for a night out, only to end up doing the dance to Agadoo and shrieking at a redcoat to down a coke float in one, I have yet to experience it...
I turned 31 in September. Shall we gloss over that? Yeah... Ooh, actually no! My incredible best friend Lydia got me the bear(s) I wanted for my birthday! Or rather, she adopted the ones at Dartmoor Zoo for me, which was amazing.
I indulged in one of my greatest loves in September, by heading to Bristol with my fabulous friend Kirstie, to see the Manic Street Preachers live. I'm at the point where I've sort of lost count of how many times I've seen the band, now. I think it's eleven. But they never disappoint and as always, Kirstie and I had a brilliant time together, too.
We laughed, we sang, we danced... And we posed in a toilet.
Okay guys, guess where Lizzie and I went in October?!
You don't have to be drunk to go to Butlin's, but...
Yes, we were Butlin's bound again. This time, we went up in the world - literally - by staying in a top floor apartment, rather than in a room. It meant we had a lounge and a kitchen and we did what any normal people would; we cooked way too much macaroni cheese, pigged out and decorated the place with Halloween tinsel and fairy lights. Oh and blew up dozens of balloons, which we tried - and failed - to play keepy-uppy with.
At the end of the month, I went to see Sarah Millican for the first time since she has been super duper famous (I first saw her as a virtual unknown at a comedy club in Bristol, many moons ago). She was awesome and lovely - we met her after the show and she didn't balk when I asked if I could sniff her marker pen. I have a problem, I know.
That night, I also walked past my abusive ex for the first time in over two years and I didn't freak out; I held my head a bit higher, walked a bit taller and laughed a little louder with my friends. Go me!
November saw the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, which is, if you don't know much about me, pretty much my favourite TV show and a major obsession of mine. To prepare for the anniversary, I'd been rewatching all the episodes from 2005 onwards - and something unexpected happened. For years, I'd remained firmly in Camp David (see what I did there?!), referring to Tennant's incarnation as my favourite version of the Doctor. But rewatching all of his episodes made me see Matt Smith in a whole new light. By the time I was back up to date with the series, I was a fully fledged Team Smith member. He is my Doctor and I don't want him to leave at Christmas. Nobody makes a speech as passionately, nobody can switch between light and shade so perfectly and frankly, nobody will ever look as good in a fez. Oh and I totally fancy him as well, but that's besides the point.
Oh but you are, Matthew. You so are.
Lizzie came down for the weekend of the show's anniversary and, in spite of not being a fan, she put up with my obsession valiantly. We even ended up making our own spoof Doctor Who episodes, using Action Men and a Barbie. Seriously, type "Don't blink, doctor who spoof" into YouTube and witness the inner workings of my crazed mind.
I also went to see 5ive with Lydia in November and they rocked Plymouth Pavilions. I was lucky enough to meet most of the band afterwards and I can safely say they are lovely guys. Oh and yes. Abz really does talk like that.
So here we are at the end of another year. It has been a good one, all things considered.
The book I started writing is now only a few chapters away from being finished and the friendships I treasured most at the start of the year are still the ones that bring me the greatest joy as 2013 ends. My family and friends are always the most precious things in my life and this year has been no different.
I wish them - and everyone reading this - health and happiness for 2014. May it be the year your wishes come true. Unless you're harbouring a secret wish to track me down and kill me. In which case, may you be THWARTED.
I will be spending New Year's Eve at Butlin's (come on, you could at least act surprised) and then I'm off to London right at the start of January, to see Matt Smith in American Psycho. Expect a review in early 2014. And expect it to reference his pants.
To everyone who has read and supported this blog in 2013, many, many thanks. May your Christmas be fantastic and your new year even better. Stick with me in 2014. Who knows where we'll end up... xx