The point of this diary is to show what the life of an Escapologist is like. Or at least, what the life of one Escapologist is like. These annual roundups are year-in-the-life type things written in the same spirit. Here goes.
Before hitting the Glasgow dirt though, we spent two weeks in Spain. We were art tourists in Madrid and then beach bums in Alicante. This is a hot tip for mobile Escapologists, actually: travel while homeless. In the Prado, I saw this portrait of Tristan Tzara:
Our search for a Glasgow apartment was mercifully short. A friend, inspired in part by New Escapologist, was leaving Scotland for Germany. (She’s now very settled and has just had a baby girl). I remembered that she owned her flat and might be looking for tenants. So now we have a place to park our chaise as well as an Escapological micro-economy running between us and our errant landlady. Thanks Heather!
We’d barely been in Britain five minutes when we were summoned back to Canada. My book, A Loose Egg, had been shortlisted for the Leacock Medal. I doubted I’d win (and I didn’t) but was aware that 2015 might be the only year I’d be eligible let alone shortlisted, so I didn’t want to miss my chance to experience the ceremony and meet the in-crowd. So back to Canada we went, first to Toronto and then to Stephen Leacock’s old stomping grounds of Orillia.
On the way home, we stopped in Timperley to see the crowdfunded statue of Frank Sidebottom.
In April, we popped down to London to warm a couple of seats in the QI studio. Here we meet the QI elves, got a whistle-stop behind-the-scenes tour of the Natural History Museum (meeting the corpses of Darwin’s pet octopus and a giant squid!) and were waved at by the queen.
A slightly dodgy “financial requirement” of immigration to Britain has meant a brief return to grunt work for your humble narrator. I worked for a month at a University and now I’m doing a stint in the public sector. The money’s nowhere near enough for the time I have to put in, and if it weren’t for the fact I’m essentially doing community service for deigning to import a foreigner, it would feel like a complete waste of time. But never mind: Christmas Eve marked my 100th day of slavery. I need 130 days, if my calculations are correct, before I can quit.
Despite this unpleasant detail, the year saw some decent writing sessions, mainly on Escape Everything! and finishing up the crowdfunding process of the same. Thanks to everyone who helped. The book will be out on January 28th 2016.
I also started a nature diary: a journal of interactions with urban wildlife. The idea was for it to form a sort of Escapological novel, but I’m not sure it’s working. This bit of writing is probably just for me rather than for publication. Having said that, I’ll be printing some excerpts in New Escapologist Issue 12, so let me know what you think if you read it.
Performance-wise, I did a couple of diary-reading nights (loved these) and a performancy talk about humorists as part of a friend’s bookish art project. I’m thinking of doing a show in this line at next year’s Edinburgh Fringe, but only if I can work out a few structural issues with my performance.
The best thing about coming home has been getting back together with friends: Laura, Neil, Johnston, Fraser, Tim (hello!). We also joined a pub quiz team. We play the quiz almost every Monday now. We’ve won a lot of beer, though I fucked up a recent episode for us by insisting on the Exorcist demon’s name being “Legion” when in fact it’s “Pazuzu”. Bah.
What else? Um. I joined Twitter. Landis came to visit from LA, as did Caitlin. We held owls in Edinburgh. Emily came over from New York. We got rained on a lot in Storms Abigale though Frank. I interviewed Will Self. Samara discovered embroidery. We saw the new Star Wars film twice. I had some new profile pics taken by new friend Alan. I joined the Scottish Green Party but later fell for Jeremy Corbyn. We attended a baby-naming ceremony. We made a contribution to the Museum of Water. Lentus Ambulandus and I kept this blog going, including a series for Stoic Week. We celebrated Hanukkah. We spent Christmas in London.
As ever, thank you for reading, dear Escapologists. I’m very, very grateful. Thank you for the attention. Thank you for the funding. Thank you for the comments and retweets and the enthusiastic emails. Happy New Year to you all! x
Oh Cripes. I almost forgot. The book list! That’s what you all tune in for. This year, putting my money where my mouth is, I wanted to read more books by female authors. I did. Over half the books I read were by women. So here are my books of 2015 (as ever, an asterisk* denotes a book read aloud):
Paul Auster – Invisible
Franz Kafka – The Trial
Paul Auster – Man in the Dark
Ben Aaronovitch – Rivers of London: Books 1-5*
Jeremy Dyson – The Cranes that Build the Cranes
Sue Townsend – The Diary of Adrian Mole
Michael Palin – Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988-98*
Simon Donald – Him Off the Viz
Gerald Durrell – The New Noah*
Caroline Lucas – Honorable Friends?
Jacquie Durrell – Beasts in My Bed
Sy Montgomery – The Soul of an Octopus
Lyanda Lynn Haupt – Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent
Patricia Highsmith – Ripley’s Game
G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona – Ms. Marvel Vol. 1-2
Anneliese Mackintosh – Any Other Mouth
Edward St Aubyn – Lost for Words
Tim Bradford – A London Country Diary
Geoff Nicholson – The Lost Art of Walking
David Carlson and Landis Blair – The Hunting Accident
Esther Woolfson – Field Notes From a Hidden City
Marie Kondo – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying
Olivia Williams – Gin Glorious Gin
Tom Hodgkinson (Ed.) – Idler 43: Back to the Land
Emma Kennedy – The Tent, The Bucket and Me
Pannonica de Koenigswarter – Three Wishes: An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats
Caitlin Moran – Moranthology
Stephen King – The Dead Zone
Roald Dahl – The BFG*
Angela Carter – Wise Children
Ursula Le Guin – The Lathe of Heaven
Jon Ronson – What I Do
Caitlin Doughty – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Agatha Christie – Partners in Crime*
Paul Richards – A Book of Mosses
Kathleen Jamie – Findings
Naomi Mitchison – Memoirs of a Spacewoman
Fran Lebowitz – Metropolitan Life
Patricia Highsmith – The Price of Salt
And the ones appreciated but left unfinished:
Jules Evans – Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations
Steven Pinker – The Sense of Style
John Sutherland – Lives of the Novelists
Gavin Maxwell – Ring of Bright Water
Sue Townsend – The Queen and I
I exit the year glad to be back in Glasgow but newly homesick for my Epicurean, threadbare life of full-time writing.