So I’ve already written about some significant personal changes that took place in 2011 and I’ve made playlists of the music I loved. So a little odds and sods round up of the year.

There were two events which will stand out when I think back to 2011. The first was the death of my gran. She was the head of the family and devoted her life to the people around her. I’ll always be proud of my grandparents and their achievements make me always want to strive to be (and do) better. When I was home for Christmas my mum gave me a little toy bunny rabbit that was in my grandparents’ house. It is one of the abiding memories I have of visiting them throughout the years and it will stick with me wherever I go. Of course, the death of such a pivotal member of the family can make you feel closer to those left and I feel inordinately lucky to have such amazing parents and a great brother.

The second big event was that I got engaged. My boyfriend proposed when I was drunk and watching a Madonna dvd. ROMANTIC! I’d been sitting up waiting on him returning from New York. Initially I didn’t think I was very fussed about getting engaged or getting married. Then I slowly realised that I am madly in love and extraordinarily proud to be engaged to such a brilliant, kind and adorable man. In an added bonus, the in-laws seem darned alright.

I suppose what both of these things have in common is that they are traditional markers of getting older. I feel quite different today from how I felt as I entered the year. I’m content with my life and the people in it, at the stage where I want a few intimate relationships and am increasingly intolerant of facile ones. That sounds boastful but it of course involves some negative traits on my part. Make no mistake, I have been a twat many times. I’ll always fall short, be a hypocrite, be unnecessarily mean sometimes, fall into laziness and choose easy options. Instead of pretending this isn’t the case I am trying to embrace these facts and always remind myself that I can be better. No, that I owe it to the people I love and have loved to be better. 

(One of the lyrics that really struck a chord with me this year is from an old George Michael song – one I have listened to countless times but only really resonated with me now:

All those insecurities that have held me down for so long
I can’t say I’ve found a cure for these
But at least I know them, so they’re not so strong

Ooh this has all gone a bit self-help hasn’t it?)

In terms of gigs, the best was probably Noah and the Whale at the Roundhouse (thanks, David Miah!) which was the culmination of a beautiful day spent with the boyfriend celebrating our 3rd anniversary. Special mentions to: Elbow at St John’s; Taylor Swift, Kylie and Coldplay at the 02 (not together, alas); Katy Perry at Hammersmith Apollo; Suede and Janet Jackson at the Royal Albert Hall; Bright Eyes at the Scala and Adele at Shepard’s Bush Empire. Raspberries to Rihanna at the O2. She needs a break.

I’ll never remember all the books I’ve read but ones that stand out (read this year, not necessarily released) are: ‘At Swim, Two Boys’ by Jamie O’Neill; ‘Anti-Gay’ edited by Mark Simpson; ‘Being Wrong’ by Kathryn Schulz; ‘Non-Stop Inertia’ by Ivor Southwood; ‘Zeitoun’ by Dave Eggars; ‘How to be Alone’ by Jonathan Franzen; ‘The Debt Delusion’ by Mehdi Hasan; ‘Saint Morrissey’ by Mark Simpson; ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue.

Films I’ve liked: ‘The Skin I Live In’; ‘Rabbit Hole’; the ‘Harry Potter’ series (we watched them all this year); the John Pilger documentary series I bought; ‘Blue Valentine’; ‘Lars and the Real Girl’; ‘Half Nelson’ (a Gosling TRILOGY!); ‘50/50’; ‘I Am Because We Are’; ‘The Tree of Life’ and ‘The Illusionist’.

Finally, the tv shows I’ve loved: ‘The Good Wife’; ‘30 Rock’; ‘New Girl’; ‘Psychoville’; ‘All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace’; ‘Ringer’; ‘American Horror Story’; ‘Spiral’; ‘The Killing 1+2’; ‘Desperate Housewives’; ‘Party Animals’; ‘Mad Men’; ‘Roseanne’.

That’s enough lists now, isn’t it?

I’m probably going to have a rather sedate Hogmanay. It feels apt and I’m just not in the mood for a party. I hope whatever everyone does you all have a great time and here’s hoping 2012 is a great one.

The Human Centipede 2

I keep reading a lot about the ‘rights’ of individuals to watch whatever they want. Where does this ‘right’ come from? It certainly isn’t a ‘right’ recognised in the European Convention on Human Rights, which states:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises. 

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and im-partiality of the judiciary

This being a serious, grown-up document which recognise that there are always competing rights and responsibilities. Such as the responsibility of a filmmaker to acknowledge that the work they create contributes to our culture, and our culture is hugely powerful in shaping our values and our societal mores. Such as the right of everyone to fight against a culture where the brutalisation of women is presented as entertainment for men, as if this has absolutely no effect beyond entertaining the viewer. We don’t need research to look into the effect of culture on people – everyone has at some point been profoundly affected by art. We are moved, elated, inspired, angered, outraged…why then is it such a leap to believe that something with no purpose other than to present sexual brutalisation as entertainment can degrade a viewer?

The BBFC isn’t a perfect body and no-one would argue that it is. But I think only a complete fool would argue for its abolition or for its powers to be reduced. Allowing a free-for-all isn’t a mark of civilisation. Recognising competing rights and responsibilities, and the compelling power of culture to shape us all, is what is civilised.