Over the last twelve months, we’ve had our pages filled with some incredible creative souls, we asked a few of them to be kind enough to share some words on a year that the world all went a bit odd. First up, poet Scott Tyrrell walks us through his 2016.
So Scott, how was your 2016?
The year that staggered through the door, tripped up on the welcome mat, fell headlong into the vinyl collection taking out the best artists then stayed to stare menacingly at the European party guests, suggest forcing the neighbours to pay for a bigger garden wall then complain there’s no Marmite left and the Prosecco’s too expensive . The sooner the booze runs out and a taxi is ordered the better. But then next year I fear all his idiot mates will want to pop round too.
You know it’s been a bad year when the one thing a large group of people did that made you feel good about the human race was almost naming a ship Boaty McBoatface. And we couldn’t even pull that off. It was also a big year for Death. He’s clearly been organising a sizeable showbiz party for some time. 2017’s ‘in memorium’ sections at award ceremonies are likely to take up most of the show. Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Andrew Sachs, Victoria Wood, Muhammad Ali, Castro, Harper Lee, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Kenny Baker, Caroline Aherne, Ronnie Corbett, Terry Wogan… I’ve never sounded more like mother with my almost weekly cry of ‘Eee, you’ll never guess who’s died.’
For me personally it’s been a mixed bag. My wife spent the first part of the year recovering from a major operation, my stepdaughter moved out, I played the Albert Hall, Glastonbury and have been up and down the country spouting verse at people a whole lot this year. I started a new big responsible day job in December and we got a dog who’s teaching me about the many places in my house it’s possible to poo and wee in. Rogue One better be f***ing good.
What’s been your best moment?
More a collection of moments based on a theme – the rise and rise of the film I, Daniel Blake. Over the year it has become a slow purposeful gathering storm of well-deserved acclaim. Great to hear of it (and its subject matter) winning the Cannes Palme D’or. Surprising to find out it was a Ken Loach film (I actually thought he was dead). Heartwarming to know Tyneside comedy legend Davey Johns was the film’s namesake. A slow juggernaut to the chest to watch. Incredibly sweet to see my old comedy friend Gav Webster in a few scenes. Massive schadenfreude to see it inevitably wipe the smile from the journo right-wing elite as its amazing two leads collected award after award and they’re still coming. It is a small but significant light of working class defiance in a system that would rather it just shut up and disappeared. And as a side note I performed at the Books on Tyne festival in November and the banner I shared the stage with featured in the film. First time I’ve been upstaged by a two metre banner.
What was your worst moment?
I’d have to pick two. The mornings of Brexit and Trump. I’ve never felt so stumped by collective stupidity. Anyone (I thought) with an inch of brain and a spoonful of compassion could see what the aftermath was likely to be – hate, bigotry and the vulnerable paying the biggest price. I genuinely had more faith in the collective intelligence and humanity of the English speaking world. So depressing to be proved wrong this time.
What was your favourite gig?
Billy Bragg at Glastonbury on the day of Brexit. A hundred and fifty-thousand lefties woke up to an almighty shock that Friday morning. There was a tangible sense of disbelief and confusion on the fields of Worthy Farm and the mood was funereal all day long. I trotted along with poetry mates to the Leftfield tent that night in the hope that our collective lefty dad would tell us it was going to be OK. He didn’t disappoint us. He was a war cry of compassion and defiance. New England brought the tent down. He was the right man for the right situation that night and I’ll never forget what he said to those of us feeling dispossessed ‘There are 48.1% of us who are still with you’. I was hurting from the hugs of strangers.
Favourite Song of 2016?
Regina Spektor’s cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. It takes nothing away from the subtle power of George Harrison’s original and hammers home how supremely classic and worldly the tune is by playing it all in Japanese strings which not only doesn’t jar (which is a massive risk for such a well-known tune) but takes it to yet another mystical level. I love a cover that lets you re-examine the original and still allows you to hold a deep affection for both.
Favourite Film of 2016?
I’ve waffled on about I, Daniel Blake, and while I think it’s the most important film of 2016 I think my favourite has been Arrival. Its premise is painfully simple; Aliens land on Earth and nobody knows what they’re saying so they need Amy Adams who’s the world’s leading language expert to figure out if they’re hostile or not. Sounds almost too simplistic but it’s a deliciously slow reveal of intent with a growing sense of unease, some proper impressive Alien design both in body and language, some cool twists and both Adams and Jeremy Renner as the two leads are wholly convincing. It’s slow-burning intelligent sci-fi that often threatens to bore but always surprises.
Favourite TV of 2016?
Westworld almost won but was pipped by Netflix’s Stranger Things which hit this eighties kid straight in his bmx-riding, baseball cap-wearing, CB radio-tuning, video nasty-watching heart. It was the most obvious and intentional love letter to Spielberg, John Carpenter and Stephen King without ever seeming hack; mainly down to the pains taken to have it look and feel so authentic. You could have stuck those kids in Stand By Me or the Goonies and they’d have fit right in. So looking forward to series two, but I fear there’ll still be no justice for Barb.
What’s coming up in 2017?
Some great gigs already lining up for next year. A couple in Bristol and Milton Keynes in February, two literary festivals in Bury St. Edmonds and Dunbar in the Spring and the big spoken word night from London and Manchester ‘BANG!’ is doing a national tour which I’ll be lending my stuff to at the Gala Theatre in Durham on the 12th May.