On this morning’s Desert Island Disks, the very last one of 2010, Kirsty Young asked her castaway, shoeless sixties pop soul singer, Sandy Shaw, whether she considered herself to have a healthy ego.
Sandy replied: “Oh definitely. My husband says it’s the size of a good few solar systems. But I prefer to call it my big life.”
Having finally caught up with the last ever season of bonkers science fantasy TV convolution, Lost, the night before leaving to spend new year with loved ones in Sussex, I wonder if any ponderings of my own life on a desert island – whistfully wandering barefoot along the beach when I should be fashioning something vital, probably – would turn out to be not so much black smoke and broken mirrors but a realisation that a lot of pointless running around disappointingly wound up with me simply being dead for a lot longer than I’d realised.
If so, can I state now that I’ve long had my suspicions.
Thinking of loved ones who’ve said goodbye to other loved ones this Christmas, however, quietly asks the question again: How big will your own life adventure have turned out to be?
How big will you have made it?
Those important figures who’ve left some people who figure pretty importantly in my own life at the end of these twelve months happened to demonstrate something of a smallness of ego, actually. Without diminishing the complexity of the stories they left behind. You don’t always have to belt out a show tune in a spotlight to grab the emotional attention. A quietness falling silent can leave a deafening emptyness.
At the end of a difficult year for countless people in as many different ways, I wonder how easy it will be to party tonight – the turning of it from an end into a beginning.
Considering 2010 here on the last day of December, I’m not sure how much the Big Society has changed modern Britain for the better yet, for example. We’re only six months into our bold coalition vision, but I think our annual dream of a Victorian-looking Christmas comes complete this year with the added realism of many of us pulling suitably austere expressions of repressed misery as we consider the workhouse and child labour and dying of something ghastly in a bitterly cold room.
Though you can take an analogy too far – the UK is currently doing all this without the backdrop of a burgeoning manufacturing base.
No, I think what we all desperately need now is a more precious comodity; a spot of sunshine. After starting and ending 2010 with blizzards and closed roads and heating bills we can’t afford, it’s surely time for some metaphorical and literal sunshine.
And I’d like to help.
Do you remember what happened this year in between all the freezing fun?
Go on, think. Bet you’d forgotten.
A summer. One of the best we’ve had in the UK for a decade at least. Really. We did.
Back in June I wrote that we were in the middle of:
“..a summer so hot and sunny and summery, it’s blotted the memory of a winter so long and snowy and wintery it eventually blotted the will to live. ..Now? How long ago does that feel? We’ve been taking beachy bike rides and seafront strolls every damn evening and weekend we can. There’s a permanent dusting of sand on the hall carpet. And on Saturday, we just sort of camped out in Bournemouth lower gardens with strawberries and Marks’ takeaway Chardonnay glasses.”
Now? How long ago does that feel?
Thing is, as I end the year, I am straining to inhabit a creatively summery vibe – which I hope to be able to pass on to you soon. For I’m writing the little score to a TV show set in a part of the world I now feel astonished to have never visited – Greece.
I mean, why have I never seen this ancient heart of Europe for myself? How have I never pottered from the Parthenon to an Athenean taverna, or driven the meandering hills of the Polipanese, or dozed on the beachfront of an Agean island?
Well, musically, I sort of have now. Without leaving Southbourne. Thanks to Benny and the gang at Rampage, who’ve been making this little odyssey for an Australian production team. And I wish I could post up some of the results right away, to warm your winter blues. Try to hang on until the end of January if you can.
Ending the year on such a musically sunny note forces me to remember through the murk of a chilly first winter in a new home that still feels like someone else’s domus and into an anno-more-positivus-than-I-may-compos. ..Though I think I may be getting my cod ancient Greek muddled up with my cod Latin there. But run with the philosophy of the precarious segue, polit.
For I should remember that for Momo, 2010 has been significant. I confess to ending the year too pooped to party-pop, after twelve months of draining the emotional batteries a bit, beaving away in a dark room alone rather far from sunlight.
But if I can steal two seconds over the To Do list-heavy Christmas week to consider what’s happened this year, I should possibly feel nothing less than excited.
For, though my little creative life looks no bigger than it was twelve months ago, with no killer punch breakthroughs to headline a Christmas letter with, I will wake up in 2011 not where I was.
Momo:tempo – music – has filled most of my agenda since January. If not my wallet. Though it’s contributed to that too.
And the real contribution I should understand it’s made has been to the rather more valuable treasure pocket of my soul.
No one may be listening, but I am doing what my soul has told me to do all my adult life – make sweet little tunes. I’ve made a lot of them this year, as I listen to a bootleg compilation of some of the sweetest moments to my ear, as I continue to search for that musical sweet spot. I can’t quite imagine our home without so many of them that didn’t exist as we celebrated Christmas 2009. Ask me for a secret copy if you fancy.
But perhaps the thing to most treasure is that I no longer need to worry that ‘nobody is listening’ or ever say such a thing. For a handful of people who mean a great deal to me now are listening. Intently. And I’m not sure what else might matter to a creative than that; one or two of you will ask for that bootleg Momo:tempo 2010 sampler, I know you will. And I can’t say thankyou enough.
2011 will be another hard working one for Momo. But as we finally paint the walls and plug in the electrics of a symbolically brand new studio this week, I can’t help wondering if this new year that we’ll be hugging in tonight won’t be a big one for our household at least. One with adventures in it we can’t foretell.
As I think of those who won’t be with us this new year, and hold tight for a moment those who will be, I hope to say with spotlight off and ego sensibly compact and travel-sized, that I am looking forward to doing something partly inspired by them all which makes life as big as I know how to make it – create a little sunshine in the gloom.
I wonder if 2011 will be, in some new ways, about bringing people together to make a little sunshine.
I can’t say I’d ever wish to have romantic notions about being marooned. About being deserted inescapably. But getting washed up on a foreign beach with eachother is something quite different. The start of what the process of living life is really all about – so raise your glass to them with me:
To new adventures, gang.