O god, might as well do an alphabet for the New Year.
A is for apologies. I get guilty sometimes over the way so many diary writers manage to produce something worth reading almost every day - Jen Oksana and Kate Bolin are particularly strong examples here- and I just manage to stick something in every few weeks when I happen to be in the mood to obsess about something or really get to the point where I feel I absolutely have to at least make a token contribution.
Like this one...
B is for Buffy and my book about the show, 'Reading the Vampire Slayer', and to thank everyone who has sent me letters or e-mails or has commented on the book online. The American publisher, St Martins, has moved me from the academic to the trade list, which means that they will put some real effort into selling more copies and makes it more likely that one day I will get to do a second edition and never have to grow out of my obsession ever,
C is for Christmas dinner, which was very plain boiled Raclette potatoes (they are French, expensive and really nice) lightly tossed in oil with black pepper and dill, roast parsnips, a rolled haunch of venison (Willow killed Bambi; we ate Bambi), steamed asparagus and a sauce of grilled red peppers, mushrooms and basil stirred into yoghurt. I don't get to do dessert anymore and one of these years I will stop missing Christmas pudding.
D is for death - I lost three close friends last year and I really hope not to have to go through that again for a while. So be careful all of you. Life is precious.
E is for elephants - I am really rather glad that the London Zoo has moved its large mammals out to Whipsnade, because the old elephant house was really rather disgusting. It was not just that it was a very cramped space for creatures that walk miles every day; it was that it was dry and dusty and grassless and smelly. Captivity may end up being the only way to save some species from extinction, but they deserve the dignity of decent conditions.
F is for forgetting about it. One of my new years resolutions in this and every year is not only to make a point of letting people I have fallen out with off the hook and trying to patch things up, but also suggesting to people I know that life is a lot too short to continue feuds with anyone not actually a spouse-beater or an embezzler; in fact, come to think of it, I can think of people I know who have been accused of both those things and turned out not to be especially guilty of either. We rarely know the facts about other people and we are almost never so faultless in our own dealings that we can't cut people some slack.
G is for the Goldberg Variations of Bach which everyone should listen to either played on the harpsichord by Wanda Landowska or Trevor Pinnock, or on the piano by Glenn Gould or Angela Hewitt. Or, as I happen to be doing right now, on a variety of instruments in a variety of styles by the mad Uri Caine, a mad German who has arranged various of the variations for everything from string quartet to rapper to mariachi band.
H is for Harry Potter. Read the books - I felt I had to- saw the film - see read the books; do not understand why the superbeings who run Hogwarts have not years ago taken him away from his abusive relatives unless it is precisely to inflict on him the degree of pain that will make him their ruthless champion against Voldemart. And wasn't that silly lumpy face on the back of Ian Hart's head a let-down. Alan Rickman needs to hold back on the eye-liner and vowels if he is not going to turn into a caricature of himself.
I is for indignation, an emotion we all indulge in rather too often and should reserve for mass murder and gross injustice.
J is for Joyce, much missed and mourned.
K is for Kafka, who is one of the few people who understood what was going on in the Twentieth Century and our own. I love the thought that he went to some of the same parties as Einstein when the latter was living in Prague briefly and got taken up by Kafka's friend Brod. Their conversation probably wouldn't have been very interesting - look what happened when James Joyce and Marcel Proust met - they told each other that they had never read the other's books and then Joyce tried to borrow some money.
L is for the Leopard 'Il Gattopardo' by Lampedusa, a brilliant novel about the end of the feudal aristocracy in C19 Sicily which was made into an even better film by Visconti with Burt Lancaster in the title part and a score by Nino Rota. Burt Lancaster was also, very differently, in my favourite swashbuckler from the Golden Age, 'The Scarlet Pirate'; I wish there were an album of the full soundtrack rather than the short extract on a new disc of William Alwyn's music scores - minor Brit, not important anyone listen to anything particular he wrote, but fun anyway.
M is for making time for all the things I need to do - writing my memoirs, giving time to my beloved, writing slash again, listening to music, instead of wandering around being depressed, spending too much money and talking on the phone too much.
N is for Nightingale wards, one of the most brilliant inventions of the nineteenth century, the basic point of which is that clean things come in at one end and dirty things go out at the other so as to reduce the chance of infection and pollution. Florence may not have been an especially likable person, but she worked out a couple of things which have saved a lot of lives - until the privatisation of hospital cleaning services and the general failure to observe the basic principles. Speaking as someone nearly killed by post-operative infection some years ago, I feel strongly on this one.
O is for organic food. I wish that the Soil Association did not impose an absolute ban on non- homeopathic treatment of animals though I do see why. I eat organic food because it tastes better rather than because it is good for me...
P is for partying, or rather for mostly not bothering anymore. Given that I don't drink, mostly don't dance, don't pick people up and have to watch what I eat, I only go places where I am guaranteed good conversation, which is not possible if things are loud. O god, I am now middle- aged.
Q is for queer and the bliss of being it.
R is for rocket, my favourite herb/salad vegetable and the hardy variety which is still growing in my window box in spite of last night's frost.
S is for Satine. Moulin Rouge was one of the best films I saw last year, and Nicole Kidman starred as well in one of the others, in fact in 'The Others'. I also love her for just saying, post- divorce, that now she could wear heels again; it is of such little things that true bitch is made.
T is for Tolkien, which I saw this year, just, because of being busy and being a bit unwell and not getting it together until New Year's Day. I can't imagine a better film of the book in just about any respect and I yearn for the DVD which is rumoured to have great deleted scenes like Arwen kicking Nazgul butt some more. Such a slashy movie too, partly because of Elijah Wood's big dark beagle eyes and Sean Bean's long glances at Aragorn. Sir Ian McKellen underplaying 'Fly, you fools'; Cate Blanchett making Galadriel believable and charming - wish we'd got her talking to Sam about gardens; and the observance through out of Show don't Tell. And now we have to wait three hundred and fifty-one days until The Two Towers...
U is for unrealistic expectations - most things don't meet them - Fellowship of the Ring and Moulin Rouge surpassed them.
V is for Vanity, my besetting sin.
W is for waiting - there are a lot of things in life which you just have to wait for. The next Tolkien movie, copies of obscure Soviet patriotic cantatas, finding out whether my pancreas has recovered to the extent that I will be able to drink a little again, the next George RR Martin novel, my next trip to the US, finding out if I ever get to interview Joss Whedon...
X is for various Aztec deities now thankfully forgotten.
Y is for Why no Garland, Minelli, Astaire or Busby Berkeley on television over Christmas - millions of perverts deprived of their heritage.
Z is for what I am going to do know which is zzzzzzzzzz.