What happened in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fifteen? From a broad perspective, Scots had to come to terms with the fact that independence had been put on hold for at least a “generation.” Bumper stickers were ripped off in triumph or peeled back in slow melancholy. Lampposts were depoliticised and profile pictures made plain. Gradually even the “45-ers”, who had been pushed into the bottom corner relinquished their militancy and focused their attention on new battles – which have evidently been all but won, as shown in May’s general election.
For me, this year has been a mixture of triumph and tragedy. I successfully lived another lap round the sun and turned eighteen. I hosted two parties and got was accepted by the University of Edinburgh to study English Literature and German. But it would be lying to say things have been all plain sailing. The road to passing my driving test was a protracted and painful experience. And a dark first half of the year was brought to its conclusion with the sudden death of my grandma.
Death is difficult to talk about. It is inevitable, but that does not mean you expect it. When it arrives people are reduced to imparting clichéd comfort to the inconsolable. It is a time for silence as much as anything; yet laughter too – that is so vital. No one knows what to say. A lifetime cannot be summarised in a line.
In January I announced that I had self-published my first novel on the Kindle Store. In hindsight, this was a mistake. The writing process was worthwhile itself, but after weeks of redrafting and editing I had begun to hate my creation. It was unoriginal, even disgusting in some places and the plot made no logical sense at all. Yet I have not been deterred from writing and I can tell you now that I am currently revising the first draft of a sci-fi novella which I wrote over the summer.
Hosting parties has been a new thing for me this year. Dinner parties were so 2014; proper shindigs were the order of this annum. When you host a party, you have so much control. You set all the parameters, and people are compelled to comply because you are giving them a venue to consume alcohol. Plus they have given me the chance to explore the limitations of my speaker system, which does sound awesome when being fed high volumes. It is very strange to see the place you inhabit for the most mundane domesticity transformed simultaneously into a bar, club and dancefloor.
I’ve noticed whilst flicking back through previous posts in this blog that reviews are a recurring theme. In 2015 I reviewed the Orkney Schools Big Band in Matchmakers; the Youth Drama Festival one act plays; Jackalope’s gig in the Bothy Bar; Nacho Heap at 2Loud2Live, and Muse’s latest album Drones. The biggest disappointment of my year is a close call between the delayed release of George R. R. Martin’s sixth book The Winds of Winter, and the failure of Jackalope’s long awaited EP to appear. I have also really struggled to replace my infatuation with Hybrid Constellation – flirtations with other bands have proved unfruitful, though I did get to hear Ross Clark’s new venture In Stations earlier in November.
For me, August seemed to linger. Life was suspended between my old life in Orkney and the new to come in Edinburgh. I allowed optimism to grow within me. At home on my own I drove to windy beaches and walked over the stones, breathing in the sea. Pacing over old routes made more beautiful by the knowledge that these sights would be denied me for the months ahead. The job I had tolerated, that had shaped my identity, that had financed much musical paraphernalia for years, became to me in those last few weeks almost unbearably mundane. I itched for new things, but was sad to leave.
And then September. University was finally here – I felt like my whole life had been planned towards this. That’s not me being pretentious, I just don’t know what I’m going to end up doing as a job at the end of it all. Student life is different to how it is commonly portrayed, at least for me it isn’t exactly party every day. I’ve experienced the infamous Hive, and the Liquid Room; but gigs and poetry are more my thing.
October was perhaps the most cultural month of my life. In my course I was reading Goethe (perhaps not comprehending, but nevertheless, reading) and Oscar Wilde. I went to see the new film adaptation of Macbeth – very intense, much red smoke. The Literature Society, or “LitSoc” as they are colloquially known, hosted a discussion on modern dystopia and then organised a trip to see a theatre adaptation of Huxley’s Brave New World. This was an extremely impressive and immersive experience, which transferred from the page faithfully whilst subtly updating the text for today.
In November I was in the eighteenth century. After a brief spell in conversation with the German Enlightened philosophers, I took up residency at the court of Versailles to study the rituals and politics of the Bourbon dynasty.
Finally, to the present. Fresh from exams I sit bereft in the post-study void of Hermit’s Croft. I type opposite a half-packed suitcase and await the dawn, whence I begin my journey to the shores of the Treeless Isles.