2020 Review

2020 – the year that nobody wants to look back at. Referring to perfect vision as 20/20 will forever carry a certain irony with it now. And let’s be honest, if you were to try and sum up the year with a word or phrase, there isn’t much that’s family-friendly that truly does it justice – other than dumpster fire perhaps, which I’ve seen a lot of people use very accurately.

Granted, 2021 hasn’t started off any better, but that’s because we’re still experiencing the fallout from the damage caused by its unruly predecessor. 2021 has its work cut out trying to repair that, and it will undoubtedly require the assistance of 2022 and beyond to achieve it. However, 2021 is giving us a lot of reason to be hopeful, so there is definitely light at the end of this long, dark tunnel we’ve all been stuck in.

Normally when I do these annual reviews, I just list things month by month. But as time itself shuddered to a halt and stopped making any sense in March, with all the remaining months rolling into one, I’m just going to summarise things in categories instead. That way you can skim through to the sections that interest you most if you don’t want to read everything. The items mentioned here, and many others, have all been discussed in my Favourites posts during the year, which you can read for a lot more detail.

So I hope you enjoy this post and, apart from the first section, I hope it reminds you of some of the more pleasant distractions from the last 12 months!

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Christmas 2020 Favourites

Happy New Year! Well, as happy as it can be in the circumstances. It was a strange and difficult Christmas without a doubt, not the sort any of us wanted, and it’s going to be a hard winter for many, especially now we’re in lockdown again. There’s a big ray of hope with the rollout of the vaccines though, so the future’s looking good, and many thanks to all the health workers who are doing their utmost to dish them out as quickly as possible.

My thoughts also go to everyone in America after the recent terror attack amid the fallout from Trump’s defeat. Biden’s inauguration on January 20th can’t come soon enough. Best wishes from across the pond, stay safe!

Those challenges aside, however, I hope you were able to find some enjoyment and comfort during the festive period, insofar as the rules allowed in your part of the world.

Mum and I are doing fine, I’m pleased to say. We’ve enjoyed lots of nice treats, and have had plenty of fun things to watch and listen to, all of which has been a welcome distraction from the news. I continued to have a few long walks around my local area during December as well, as that was the only way I could get out and about, so it was important to make the most of it. Mum’s had a bit of fresh air too of course, but doesn’t go on the long hikes like I do, and we’ve made sure she stays well away from other people apart from her sister (and even then they keep their distance at the front door, she hasn’t been in the house).

So we did pretty well this Christmas despite the limitations, and here’s my festive post and video to round things up. I’m not going to mention absolutely everything we filled our stomachs with, or every little bit of entertainment we watched or listened to, as this update’s long enough as it is. I’m just going to mention my favourite things, as is the purpose of these posts. Nothing here is sponsored as usual, and any gifts are just from friends, not the people behind the products. So I hope you enjoy!

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Queen At 50 Reviews – Bohemian Rhapsody Covers

As discussed in depth in my previous post, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is an enduring classic that continues to increase in popularity 45 years on, as new generations of fans are introduced to it, most recently thanks to the movie of the same name and Queen’s tours with Adam Lambert. Freddie’s masterpiece, like his spirit and all of his music, will never die or be forgotten.

It is of no surprise, therefore, that it’s been covered in a myriad of styles by thousands of people, either tackling the full song or focusing on selected sections of it, despite the fact that it’s very brave of anyone to take on a song of such complexity that is so famous and well-loved.

In my previous reviews of Queen’s albums, I’ve always included cover versions as part of those posts. But such is the significance of Bo Rhap and the huge number of covers it’s had, coupled with the fact that it’s always nice to do some kind of special post at Christmas, that I’ve decided to give these interpretations of the track a space of their own.

Of course, it goes without saying that nobody can come close to Queen when reproducing any of their songs, especially this one. And there are plenty of covers out there that range from the decidedly average and uninspiring to the downright bizarre and awful. But there are also lots of beautifully arranged, excellently performed and cleverly interpreted versions too.

So in this post I wanted to share a long list of cover versions that I’ve found, divided into rough subsections to keep similar types together. I’ve compiled them into a big Youtube playlist as well (ending with a few minor covers of the album’s closing track, God Save The Queen).

Some are great in my view, some are not, and the rest are somewhere in between. But everyone’s opinions will differ. All I’ve tried to do is present a wide variety that I feel are of interest and worth exploring out of curiosity. It’s not every cover that exists by any means, but I feel it’s a very comprehensive and fair representation of what’s out there, listing most of the major versions and lots of hidden gems.

So buckle in for a long selection, and see which versions you like best!

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February & March 2020 Favourites

Well, what a year this has turned out to be, huh? Perhaps we should just rename it 2019B or 2019.5 and start 2020 again next January. It’s like we’ve had a faulty software update in the calendar that needs serious debugging and virus-checking before it’s rolled out again.

Obviously I’m not dismissing the tragic side of things by saying that. My heart goes out to everybody who has lost loved ones or been severely affected in some other way, and I sincerely hope you all stay safe and well as best you can. Please follow the guidelines on hygiene, distancing, isolation, etc, because it really will save many lives. It will take a few weeks at least before we start seeing the impact of such measures, but they will help, and we will get through this. Huge thanks to all our incredible health and care staff, as well as the many other people providing essential products and services.

Beyond this introduction, I have no desire or intent to write posts about the situation, as it’s not nice and there’s enough about it online already. However, I have created a Covid Resources page, where you’ll find many links for information, advice and support, plus many ways to stay connected and entertained at home, which I hope you find useful.

Clearly this is going to change what I’m able to do and post about for a while. So in this post and video I want to wrap up my recent museum and theatre visits, as well as disability related updates and TV favourites, for both February and March. That way, I can move forward with a clean slate as I settle into a temporary new routine.

All of which means there’s a fair amount to cover here, making it a good distraction from everything that’s going on. I haven’t been sponsored or gifted by anyone to mention them, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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Springing Into Action

It’s been a couple of months since I last made a post here. So now that Spring is upon us and the weather is improving, I thought I’d do a bit of a catch-up to let you know how things are going, as I have been busy lately. So this is going to be a long mixture of all sorts of things.

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Journal – September 2005

March 2021 Introduction:

We’ve reached another significant month in my life with these old journal entries, as I learn the outcome of my first ever job interview. It was also the month that Hurricane Katrina embarked on its path of destruction in America, and so given its inevitable dominance in the news it would have been remiss not to mention it. And amongst the various bits of entertainment I was buying, watching and listening to, ITV were celebrating their 50th anniversary, including a rundown of their top 50 shows. So I hope you enjoy this latest mixture!

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Journal – November-December 2003

October 2020 Introduction:

We’ve made it to the end of my second year of Bolt journal entries. I figured I may as well combine the last 2 months of the year, as I didn’t write a lot for November. As usual I talk about university, the latest DVDs I’ve been buying and the TV I’ve been enjoying. Plus there’s another top 100 list and a few of the stranger news stories that caught my attention, and of course there’s  Christmas and a brief review of the year. So I hope you enjoy!

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Journal – April 2002

July 2020 Introduction:

Here’s the next instalment of edited entries from my journal on the old social media site Bolt. I wrote these posts while I was at university, and as it was my first time posting about myself online I was keeping personal details to a minimum. And I’m just covering a single month in each post from this point, as my journal entries were starting to get a bit longer as I settled into it, though not by much.

After my previous post, I did get a question asking if I used any assistive technology at university, and the answer is yes. I had magnification and speech software, a CCTV video magnifier, and a scanner with OCR software so I could scan in typed notes and pages from books. I don’t often use speech generally, but when I was at university and had a ton of stuff of read, it was essential. I had funding help from the Disabled Students Allowance as well.

So questions are always welcome as usual. But now let’s get on with my latest set of archived posts. I hope you enjoy!

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Journal – January-March 2002

July 2020 Introduction:

Technically, this isn’t the first online blog I’ve ever written. Many years ago, not long after I’d started university, having set myself up with a study room and internet connection at home, I ended up joining a social media site called Bolt. I’d received an advert for it after signing up to Hotmail and decided to check it out.

Bolt no longer exists today, and Hotmail has long since been replaced by Outlook, but many features on sites like Facebook are similar to those that Bolt had. It introduced many teenagers and young adults to social media for the very first time, and I did make a few friends there, though we’ve long since lost touch.

Not only was it the first time I’d written anything about my life online, it was also the first time I’d started keeping any sort of diary at all. I started in January 2002 and continued until August 2004, at which point my life was changing again, as I had left university and was looking for a career. So the time was right to move on from the site, as I felt I’d grown out of it, and focus on other more important things.

But before I left I archived all of my Bolt posts for posterity, and then kept a much more detailed personal diary on my own PC from that point onwards, which I’ve continued to do ever since. I write entries that cover a single day, or a weekend, or an entire week, or whatever, depending on my free time and how much there is to write about. Looking back at my old entries has sometimes proven to be useful to remind me of things, and has given me many pleasant memories.

So I thought I’d dig out my old journal entries and share them here. The posts have been edited where necessary to add relevant links, include photos and videos for illustration, remove references that make no sense out of context, and to protect the privacy of myself and my friends where appropriate.

My early Bolt posts you’re about to see here are also extremely brief and nothing like the rambling blogs I do now! But it’ll give you an insight into my university results and the entertainment I was enjoying at the time, including my growing love for Queen. So I hope you find them of some curious interest and a bit of fun.

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