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27 Dec 2007: Turning Pages



It's Christmas, which the pessimists amongst you will instantly acknowledge as crushingly bad news: we've all wasted another year. It's dead and buried. Slaughtered and gutted. Its dead horse can no longer be flogged. But hold the bad news buggy for one chicken lickin' second.

I've been trying to avoid 2005. 2005 was chewing gum chewed beyond its fruity limit. We all have our 2005s. As there are only a finite number of years in life, and very few of us make it into triple digits, it's a wise strategy indeed to reduce the incidence of 2005s. 2005 was a disaster in my book. It was a year in which very little happened; the year after I returned to the UK was significant for being insignificant. A year which asked the question: was returning to Grumpy Drunky Britain the correct choice or not?

It's been two years since we've had a 2005 and that's good news. We're on the right track; but there's always another 2005 lurking around each corner. It can easily catch you off-guard if you relax for a moment, let the routine sink in, accept what is offered you instead of looking for what you want. 2005 has buddies and they run a tight ship.

So this year, there were nice little holidays in Malta, Jersey and Scotland. A short stay in NY. A move to Epping Forest - which may be short-lived, we're still not sure. But apart from that, big things happened.

If you want to do cool stuff and get cool rewards in finance, particularly IT-wise, you should aim for derivatives. That's pretty much the accepted line, but I'm an odd bird. Simply writing derivatives into a job description does not guarantee satisfaction. If that were true, it would be a case of ambition governed by rules rather than ambition of heart. I chose not just to leave JP Morgan Chase mid-year, but also to leave derivatives and enter the field of program trading.

I suppose it's not impossible to go back later, but making a break now is an important shift. What I have now at Sanford Bernstein is far more exciting and involving than stuff I've worked on for years. I think only I can really understand why which is how it should be. It's not the subject of the work, it's the work environment, stupid.

The future is unwritten.

Writing-wise, things move along from strength to strength. For years I'd been refusing to take it seriously in case it was a case of I want to do it, but it's possible I'm completely shit at it, but there have been two events this year that make it clear that a certain bridge has been crossed, a rite of passage has been endured.

I got something published. The key point here is not that my work was "so good" it got published - the real point is that I've moved from hobby writing into thinking about my work as publish-ready. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, there's a lot of learning yet to do, every year sees improvement. But I'm much more serious about it now and not just building self-confidence anymore - it's here.

The other important thing was Abigail, which remains unpublished at this point. Practically everyone who read the first draft of Abigail was really taken by the story. You're never quite sure something you write is interesting or not but this one was obvious; the positive feedback came back like bullets: BAM BAM BAM. It told me now was the time to start writing a novel.

The future is unwritten. So it's full steam ahead into 2008, but watch out for 2005.

Hammerport Corner

The thinker wasn’t the only one feeling wronged somehow. The student felt like he’d taken a punch to the gut, all his fire and plans – pissed on by this second-shit preacher whose chiselled jaw bulged with ingratiating smiles.

Paragon's People concluded, followed by Closed Intervals and the light-hearted Adamned.

The vicious and ruthless rewrite of Crutch is proceeding well, although I am still in two minds whether it just has too many ideas for a single story. Its sheer length also takes it out of the short story zone and well into novella territory. Looks like I won't have started writing Novel One this year. The sands of the hourglass have run out on that one.

YouTube Corner

I love the ridiculous lyrics of the parody songs from the Flight of the Conchords. What sets them apart from your everyday parodies is not just the cleverness of the lyrics (you are rewarded for multiple listens) but the songs are often catchy and always well-constructed. My favourites include Bret You Got It Goin' On, If You're Into It, Leggy Blonde, and Hiphopopotamus that includes the most rhymes with the word Hiphopopotamus that you are likely to hear in your lifetime. They can't be all that bad, Rob Brydon is a fan too. Anyway, here's them performing Business Time live.

And Sellotape (Pencils in the Wind) from their HBO show: