The time has come for me to look back on the last twelve months, as I have done for the last ten years or so. It is a chance for me to reflect on all I have or haven’t achieved and to look forward to the year ahead. ‘Health, Wealth, Happiness & Loss’ is the template I’ll use. My aim is to get my thoughts down to look back on and hopefully inspire others whilst doing so and to also be inspired by remembering those I’ve had around me. Before I began, I took a read of last year’s review to remind myself where my head was at this time last year. Read my 2018 review here.
2019 was a pivotal year for me and this review, more so than ever before, feels like it could be a long one…
Starting these words, it’s Thursday 19th December. I’m currently a third of the way into a 24-hour fast. I stopped eating last night at 8pm and won’t eat again until tonight, 8pm. I’ve done this many times before. It enables me to shock my system into burning some unwanted fat stores as well as helping my brain reprogram itself; I never feel hungry anymore. It’s a little too much to go into in these short words but if you really want or need to lose weight, fasting is some next level science. Look into it here. *Edit – 4 hours after typing the words “I never feel hungry anymore” I’m sitting here feeling dizzy and angry. It’s not all roses. Thats 21 hours into my fast though.*
I continue to enjoy lifting weights at least three times a week and follow a very strict programme on different training cycles, courtesy of Musclehack. The middle part of the year saw me, once again, attempt to get the all-elusive six pack but failed. As is very apparent, I’m somewhat of a beanpole (a loving description given to me by my dad) yet I still enjoy the improvements I make to my body shape and muscle strength on a weekly basis. It’s become a lifestyle habit for me since I stopped training and running marathons rather than a fad and I accept the fact that I simply don’t want those abs ‘enough’ to get a cover model physique. I love the good shit too much.
I’ll stress again here… If you are keen to lose weight and get a six-pack, no amount of exercise and sit ups will fix a bad diet and you’re kidding yourself if you think it will. My advice… spend money on a diet plan from a registered nutritionist, you’ll be amazed at what will happen. Even if you’re going the gym, lifting heavy weights is a waste of time if you aren’t eating correct to fuel your muscle growth. Looking back on photos of myself from years ago to recent photos of me at VBW, I’m not ashamed to say I love how I look. Photos don’t tell the whole story. My body composition has changed totally since I got my head around nutrition and calorie intake and a recent trip to the doctor’s gave me a clean bill of health with a great heart rate and blood pressure reading (just waiting on blood test results).
Whilst my work building websites has slowed down, WardsWebsites continues to keep me busy with one or two corporate clients who’s graphics work I provide. Since mainly being self-taught, I’d like to think I’ve totally mastered all aspects of design now and enjoy creating a whole plethora of material, from online documents to brochures, posters and merchandise. Give me a shout if I can help you with anything. A welcome addition to our household income was a weekly residency I took on back in March (respect to Tony Greenaway for the hook up). This twice weekly gig saw me sharing background music to diners in a new Gastropub and I was surprised at just how tiring this was, being stood on my feet for between 5 and 6 hours to begin. I soon got used to it and enjoyed working right up until this past week, when I was told we’d be stopping the music for the quieter winter months. Hopefully we can return next year because I don’t know how we managed before that came along. Well, I do actually, same as always, because of the soldier that is Michelle Ward. Every month she goes out to work and pays all the bills out of her wages and never once complains whilst I sit here living the Life of Riley. This arrangement worked well whilst the kids were at school and I was ‘House Hubby’ but now I really need to make sure I contribute more, seeing as there are no longer any kids to look after.
This brings us to another cost. In September we were proud to see Mikey start University in Murcia. It’s just that little bit too far for him to commute so he enjoys renting an apartment with four of his pals. Initially he was meant to be working part-time to help pay for this but since starting classes he has found he has too much studying to be able to hold down any kind of job. This caused a few words in the house, as my opinions on this are totally different to Michelle’s despite us both clearly wanting what’s best for him. I know that millions of students have managed to hold down jobs AND study at the same time but in the end it was decided that he will focus solely on studies and we’ll take care of the rest. I was pretty much against this at first but he put a good case forward so I backed down. The only reason I’m sharing this detail is I’m sure many families have had the same discussion we had or will be having in the not-too-distant. Be prepared.
We are extremely proud of both kids, with Drew continuing to work at her Dentist Reception role and earlier this year she passed her Driving Theory test and should hopefully pass fully early next year (she’s been driving a moped for 4 years now). Drew and her fella, Robert, moved into a gorgeous rented apartment near the beach earlier this year. We’ve done a good job with the kids.
Michelle changed her career earlier this year and now looks settled working for a Currency Exchange company. Everyone loves Michelle, as you’d expect she’s doing really well there and looks stable for some time to come. I spoke to Michelle at length in a heart to heart ‘interview’ which you can hear here, it’s been met with quite a lot of positive words and love. We are going to feel the pinch a little, financially, in the coming months. We are not kidding ourselves that we won’t, however thankfully we have not amassed any debt at all over the last few years and our living costs generally are not that high. As long as we can afford the odd takeaway once in a while and a cheeky trip here and there, we’ll ‘survive’. Relatively speaking we are actually doing rather well for ourselves on the grand scheme of things, I mean… we could be stuck in the UK. Which reminds me. Brexit. Fuck knows how that’s all gonna pan out!
The year started for Michelle and I in Hong Kong, as we began a 3-week trip of a lifetime (another one). We watched the world-famous fireworks across Causeway Bay and in the following days were in Australia on a multi-destination whistle-stop tour of the country before heading home via Dubai for a few days. We caught up with lifelong friends and made more memories for life. We came home as happy as any couple could ever be. We enjoyed several other trips throughout the year; Switzerland, UK, Ibiza and Croatia as a family for the Defected Festival. Travelling and good food are the two things that bring me the most joy in my life nowadays, next to my family of course, and I am glad to see the kids enjoying it as much as myself. Other things that brought me so much joy this year were inviting friends and family over to spend time with us at home and the series of interviews I conducted throughout the year.
I’ll get back to Happiness shortly but to do that I need to address something else first.
Not long after returning in January I received the sad news of the passing of a dear friend of over 30 years. Neil Ankcorn was as nice a guy as you could wish to meet and he always had such lovely things to say, both to and about me. Another of the good guys taken way too soon. A few months later, whilst in Ibiza, I was given the sad news of another of life’s true gents passing suddenly. Dave Gardner, thanks to his work with Southport Weekender and Suncebeat, was loved by and owed so much by so many. The UK (and Europe) clubbing scene was hit hard. Those two deaths came at a time when I was still coming to terms with the passing of my Brother, killed in a motorbike accident in September last year. Elma’s passing and the death of another close friend, Snoopy, earlier in 2018 were pretty pivotal moments in my life and it’s only recently that I’ve been able to process how and why. Both their deaths impacted me more than I’d come to realise and as the year ends, I am in a real good place mentally as I get a handle on it. It is all to do with guilt.
Guilt is probably too strong a word. I think it’s more regret. When my brother had his accident we hadn’t been speaking for a short while. He was as far from a racist as you could get, regularly doing business with and going to the gym with people of all colours & nationalities. He did, however, have the tendency to use pretty vulgar language at times when referring to ‘them’ or ‘terrorists’ etc. One time, when I pulled him up about some of the words he used, he took offence to me reminding him that I myself was “the son of an immigrant”. We chatted on messenger about this further but he then told me our views were too different and, in a knee-jerk reaction, blocked me. This was the first time him & I had ‘fallen out’ like this but he was falling out with everyone else all the time, so I didn’t take it to heart. Six weeks later he was dead. Quite selfishly, I’m so very grateful that his accident couldn’t have been prevented by us talking or not and it really doesn’t upset me that we had the spat but of course I wish I had spoken to him more before he died. It’s one thing I simply cannot change. Another thing I cannot change is the circumstances surrounding the passing of Snoopy. You see, when he fell into a coma and appeared to be pulling through, I vowed to be ‘there for him more’. Despite helping him out on many occasions, after he passed I always felt that in the back of my mind I had that “I can’t really be dealing with his issues as well as my own” attitude. Hindsight gives us these revelations, these realisations of how we think we could have done more but in reality we probably couldn’t have. Especially as Snoopy was a very proud man and refused help a lot of times, maybe there are a few of us who could and should have insisted. Again, now there is nothing I can do about that. There’s also the long-story of the relationship with myself and my dad before he died suddenly in his sleep. I can’t be arsed going into all that, lol.
Whilst I can’t change the past, I can learn from it and use my experiences to be a better person. There are many things I have said and done in the past that hang over me. It is only in recent times I have accepted that I cannot change these things and vowed to learn from what many would call mistakes. The million dollar question is though “Would I change any of my past if I had the chance?” I am not sure I would… because I feel I am in a really good place now, in life and love, and I am not entirely sure that would be the case if things had been different in the past. It’s deep but I’ve been doing a lot of deep thinking recently. I’m a deep person. I spend a lot of time alone with my own thoughts. I often feel misunderstood by everyone around me. Man, that sounds pretty stupid and dramatic to read back but if I’m being totally honest it’s the truth. It’s that truth which I feel has set me free this year. It is that truth which has seen me reach out to many people and offer to help them and to understand them better. I have gone out of my way to let others tell their story by inviting ten DJs over to spend time with me in Spain and it’s why, when I found out recently that a friend took his own life, I completed an online Suicide Awareness Course and have been talking to and helping several people after posting this video.
Back to Happiness
I have a good heart and I try to surround myself with others of the same outlook on life. I really cannot be around ‘Energy Sponges’ and from time to time have to make the difficult decision to distance myself from certain people. This year was no different. However, for every one person that drops out of my life, many more enter thanks to the joys of The Vocal Booth Weekender. It is a part of my life that continues to bring me so much pleasure. From time to time I get a slight wobble when I ponder too hard about what the future holds for the event itself but then I am calmed when I realise that, regardless of whether or not a party is on the horizon, the people I have met because of it will be in my life forever.
This year’s VBW was the most challenging to date. The worst storms in 100 years left us without a main club… all the details are here.
Sharing is Caring
Giving people opportunities to shine with their own talents and helping bring out talents they didn’t realise they had, that is priceless. I know just how much I am loved and respected for the things I have done down the years and am in a good place to admit that out loud. That is another milestone I have reached this year, not being afraid to take praise and acknowledge it rather than shy away from it. The pride I have is now like a comfort blanket rather than being seen as some kind of arrogance, which is how I felt it looked in the past. I don’t know how, when or why but I found myself worrying a little too much about the one or two people who had negative things to say about me or VBW in the past. I never used to give a shit about things like that… and now I am back to not caring again. It’s a good place to be and as I type this, despite feeling slightly drowsy from lack of food (that doesn’t sound too healthy you knob) I am proper buzzing at where my head is at.
Plans for the future
We have a quiet Christmas planned as well as seeing in the New Year at friends’ house. I’ll continue to enjoy flexing my creative muscles with my website building and graphics work as well as putting together a third Vocal Booth Weekender book to be published next year. I have categorically zero interest in getting back onto the DJ circuit but am excited by one or two big parties I’ve been asked to appear at, as well as possible VBW collaborations in the pipeline. At this moment in time there are no major holidays planned apart from the amazing Cruise in June for my 50th Birthday Celebrations (Take a look). I am (erm… struggling to find the right word)… disappointed/surprised/whatever by the lack of interest from many who I thought would love to take in this experience, not because it’s my Birthday but simply because I know how insanely fantastic it’s going to be. At the moment there’s about 20 odd cabins booked, click the link to see if you fancy joining us.
You might see me being a little more vocal or outspoken online now I’ve got some confidence back. Putting these words down reminds me how therapeutic writing is and I realise that my blog has fallen by the wayside in recent years since I tend to get all the crap out of me on my FB Wall.
Highlights from 2019
Here are some highlights (and lows) I am reminded of by viewing my Instagram Timeline
- Seeing in New Year in Hong Kong and the holiday afterwards.
- Neil Ankcorn’s Passing
- My forced daily coffee breaks to the park with the dog
- Being put in Facebook Jail due to ‘explicit’ photo of a woman appearing to masturbate (I did want to write “fingering herself” but that’s crude
- The VB10 flying out to spend time in Spain
- Pressure Radio Al’-Dayer and the wedding of Mr & Mrs Bottley
- Rumours by Gatsby Gastronomia residency
- My Mom flew out in April and my aunt also joined her in October
- Drew passed Driving Theory
- Binge-watched so much on Netflix, including Homelands
- Dave Gardner passed away
- Trip to Ibiza for Groove Odyssey
- Schooly visited for my Birthday & Mikey graduated as well as the launch of Costa Blanca Brunch
- Doctor J passed away after a hard-fought battle with Cancer.
- Went to Greece for Josh Milan’s 50th Celebrations
- Defected Festival in Croatia. Introducing the kids to all my friends and some of their heroes
- Vocal Booth Weekender and the worst storms to hit Spain in 100 years
- The wedding of Mr & Mrs Ferris and a trip to Valencia
- Dolphin spotting with the Taits
- Paul Strange taking his life and me taking a Suicide Awareness Course online.
- Weekly residency ended
As I bring this to a close, the wife is away in the UK having important meetings ahead of her works Xmas party and I am now starting to get grumpy because I want some food. That said, I feel elated that I managed to get all my thoughts down in some kind of orderly fashion, considering it has taken me easily over four hours to get to this point. Sincere thanks for reading and I hope that some of my words hit home with you and help you to reflect on your year or think ahead to the wonders of the next decade. I truly love each and every person for making it this far with me.
Did I forget anything? Add your thoughts in the comments or drop me a line.