2009. That was my year that was.

And so the noughties come to a close…

2009 was a funny old year in many ways.

Work wise I’ve never been busier and gained some fascinating new clients along the way not least STV, Ampersand, Corporation Pop and LA Media.  But for some it has been a hell of a struggle and I hope things improve in 2010.  My own prospects for 2010 look a bit less silly than 2009.  Might even get some golf in.  Only played three medals in 2009 but following my FIRST EVER golf lesson in November I went on to finish second.  Yes, you heard that right, second in a winter medal and now sit proudly in 5th place overall in the winter league order of merit.  Just shows you that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

It was a mare of a year music wise.  I’ve already posted my tracks of the year elsewhere but I really struggled to pull together my top ten albums, so much so that I had to go into rereleases to make up the ten. Nevertheless, those that made it are great records in this or any year, there just weren’t many of them.

These are they;

The Phantom Band.  Checkmate Savage.

The year started brightly with this oddball Krautrock-influenced Rock and Roll album from what sounds like a bunch of stoners from Glasgow.  It’s great.  And I notice that this video from the album is directed by Martin Wedderburn (who I’ve worked with on commercials and Bronagh Keegan!  Who used to work for me at 1576.  Not to mention Ray Allan as a Barman and some Tetrahedron masks.)

Melody Gardot.  My One and Only Thrill.

Her first album showed promise, but her second is solid gold jazz and my personal achievement of the year was plucking up the courage to sing My One And Only Thrill from the record at the FAT concert on December 19th.

Doves.  Kingdom of Rust.

This year’s Elbow?  I suppose so, but this is to underestimate the quality of this beautiful, haunting and melodic rock record with real soul.

EG.  Adventure Man.

Why does this man (Eg White – silly name I know) not have a higher profile?  He writes many of Britain’s best pop songs (Chasing Pavements, Warwick Avenue, songs for Pink, James Morrison, Take That, Beverley Knight, Kylie Minogue, Will Young etc) .  He’s current songwriter of the year and nobody has heard of him. This is only his third album in two decades and it is astounding.  Pure wondrous pop.  Check him out please.

Bill Callahan. Sometimes I wish we were an eagle.

He was in Smog.  He WAS Smog.  (So what.  Nobody knows Smog either. Ed.)  This album came from nowhere from my point of view so thanks to Ian Dommett for introducing it to me.  It’s a wee bit like Lambchop from a vocal perspective but the music is way, way different.  Trust me on this one.

The XX.  The XX.

A quite extraordinary debut.  Sounding like a cross between Young Marble Giants and The Cocteau twins, but nothing like either, this was surely the debut of the year.  Electrifying and beautiful.  Self produced too.  Not bad for a bunch of teenagers. Interesting to see what happens next time round.  This video has already had 1.7m hits on youtube so clearly they are hitting a few people’s buttons.

Andrew Bird.  Noble Beast.

A multi instrumentalist from the states.  This is his 5th album and I’d missed them all before.  I will be catching up next year.

The Mummers. Tale to tell.

I saw March of The Dawn on Jools and was immediately blown away (that’s also where I discovered the XX).  The rest of the album hangs together well but this is the stand out track for sure.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  It’s Blitz.

Truth to tell I’ve not played this album that much, but it’s a great slice of arthouse rock and roll.  The critics loved it.  It only got into my top ten by the skin of its teeth though.

Kraftwerk.  Radioactivity, Computer Love and Trans Europe Express.

The re-release of Kraftwerk’s entire back catalogue fully remastered was the music event of the year.  This band’s influence never wanes.  But it’s clear they had a golden period with the three albums above taking my personal plaudits.  All of them pure 5 star and all quite different.  I think Radioactivity is my favourite.

Although all of the following met with critical acclaim I’m cool on them; Noah and The Whale, Paulo Nuttini (Although this would probably win the family’s album of the year overall on default – Ria and Jeana loved it and Tom and I were OK with it), Pete Doherty, (back to being a wanker again I see – is that ‘cos nobody bought his so so album) even Graham Coxon’s latest wasn’t that brilliant.

Martha Wainwright’s Edith Piaf record is good but not great, the God Help the Girl album was not good at all (I think Stuart Murdoch is missing the influence of his muse).

Time may show that I have overlooked the Animal Collective’s interesting album but I’m not so sure – a bit like TV on the Radio, the critics love it bus is it actually any good.

My blog has hit 296,000 views in the year which is 40,000 down on 2008 and perhaps reflects fewer posts (only 385 in total).  Or maybe it’s just shit now.  Still I think it’s a respectable total and thanks for your comments but I’d still like more contributions telling me when I’m being a tosser.  Especially you Iain as you regularly tell me offline.

The Hibees came back with a vengeance under the coaching of Yogi Hughes but the defeat to Rangers last week suggests a glass ceiling has been well and truly hit.  But there is some hope AGAIN for the cup.

Our clubs in Europe were pitiful and my lowlight in that respect was Falkirk (population 34,000) going out to a team from the mighty Lichtenstein – population 35,000 – that’s the country, not the town the team comes from.  Liechtenstein is so small it doesn’t even have a league.

Theatre played a big part in my year.  Apart from as an audience member.

I enjoyed Confined Human Condition by Cryptic and The Last Witch during the festival (although it was a bit overrated).  My role as a director of The Lyceum developed and I thought the production of Memoirs of a Justified Sinner was the highlight of the year.  Truly awesome.  But nothing was to match the impact of Ragtime during the festival in which Ria joined the ranks brilliantly and Ya Beauty which was an experience I will never forget.  My dad would have had “the tingles” for months.

Amy did brilliantly at school and finally nailed her English which gives her a great bunch of results to pursue her further education later this year.  In the meantime she’s doing great working full time at Dakota and having passed her driving test has her own transport (a rather beaten up Fiat Punto but it works, mostly).  Sadly Stuart moved away to Port Knockie so we ain’t seen so much of him.

Tom’s golf continued to improve and his handicap went from 15 to 11. He won two medals and The Greenkeepers Trophy and competed regularly for the team which is an achievement as it’s probably Ratho’s best ever junior team.   We went to watch but that ended in tears. A lot of the older guys leave for next year so interesting times. He also got into the Dunfermline Masters for the second year running.

He and Ria both have their Standard Grades this year and both got credits (in Tom’s case on appeal) in their English this year.

That particular subject has caused some grief as it is clear that Tom and Ria take rather different views on the importance of studying.  But I’ll not go into that here.

Ria substituted gymnastics for drama and I think she enjoys it much more as she has made a great new bunch of pals at FCT and is in her second show this Easter (Just So based on The Rudyard Kipling stories.  Watch this space.).  Ria is working like a trooper and had brilliant results in her prelims.  And she’s got a fella!  He’s not had the Gorman grilling yet.  But there is time for that.

Jeana’s work at Suntrap has blossomed (pun intended) and she loves it.  She managed two open days this year to great success.  Aided and abetted by her blog which you can find here .  It has steadily grown and is now pulling in 10,000 views a month.  She provided Tom and I with our comedy moment of the year when she slipped in Alvor during the summer holidays and cut her knee.  The slip was a true Laurel and Hardy moment as she careered down a cobbled street on her knees.  Tom and I wet ourselves but that was THE WRONG THING TO DO,  and we were punished accordingly.  Needless to say Ria was a tower of strength to Jeana in this moment of humiliation.  Tom and I still laugh about it.

We apologise.  Sorry Jeana.

However Alvor did give us our funniest collective moment of the year as you will see from this video which we shot in the town square in Alvor.  It was the local orchestra playing and this wee bloke at the back had only one job which he executed with lack of enthusiasm but not a great deal of ability as will be revealed.  We enjoyed it immensely as you will hear.

I also discovered the old 1576 promo videos that we created many years ago.  Not a good idea.

In books only one really stands out in a disappointing year.  I just didn’t have time.  This is astounding.

But I enjoyed this too…

And my movie of the year? I got to see a lot of great movies this year and the ones that really stood out were; the Hurt Locker, Harry Brown, The White Ribbon, Sherlock Holmes, Looking For Eric and Drag Me to Hell but the best for me was a TV documentary/movie of epic proportions made by the History Channel.

TV show of the year? No Question.  True Blood.

Digital gizmo of the year?  Again. no question.  Spotify.  But Facebook make a major ressurgence.  So much so that Jeana complained at one point that I was neglecting the blog.  Yeah, right enough.  Only 380 posts!.  Twitter continues to not flick my switch but I persevere.

My man of 2008, was Yogi Hughes.

Idiot of the Year?  Kenny Macaskill for doing a Tony Bliar [sic] on us about Magrahi.

Best party was the Yah Beauty wrap, followed closely by the Ragtime wrap.

Wife of the year? Jeana Gorman. 20th year running.

Put it this way. I couldn’t live with me. Still.

And so to 2010.

My hopes?

Hibees win the Scottish Cup.  (You say that every year.  Ed.)

Tom gets down to a 7 handicap.

I win something, anything, at Dundas Park

Amy gets into Uni.

I am healthy throughout.

Both Cath and Jean stay healthy too.

Tom and Ria do well in their exams.

The credit crunch doesn’t get worse again.