Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a girl. She was born and raised in the north of her homeland – a cold, harsh place, fraught with all kinds of dangers – but she lived a sheltered life, a quiet life. Surrounded by rural fields, she longed for something more. So, as soon as she was of reasonable age, she packed her bags and made her way out into the world.
Settling down further south, she found herself in a strange new world. Away from all she knew, she tried to carve out her place in the big new city. Entranced by the bright lights and the sounds that found their home in the streets, she saw where she wanted to be. Following the sounds that captivated her so, she started to fall in love with the place that was almost her home. Then she met the men with the wide eyes. They gave her magic dust, and introduced her to a new world she hadn’t quite seen before. And as she touched down at her abode the next morning, she knew it was one she wanted to be a part of. That Christmas, she ventured to a celebration to top all celebrations. Six of the city’s finest artists all graced a single stage. Barriers were broken in sheer adulation, and the girl knew there and then that there’d be no turning back.
She got a job writing for one of her city’s publications, and set about documenting the sounds made in the city that mesmerised her so. One night in particular, she received an invitation. Monsieur Parker was hosting a ball, with five of the city’s most talented minstrels were to perform at. Donning a gown, the girl headed to the address. What she witnessed was out of this world – the kind of thing you have to be there to really believe in its importance.
Upon returning back to the real world, she hooted and howled about the event to anyone who would listen. And listen they did. The girl found her name becoming linked to the printed word about the city’s sounds – though she could scarcely believe it, she revelled in it. That was when everything changed.
The men with the wide eyes – with whom she’d remained good friends – whisked her away to a land known as Cannock. There, drinking ale in the warm sunshine on a grassy knoll, she met the comrades who would change her life forever.
A fortnight later, along with her comrades, the girl discovered a fabled hangout known only as TALK. It became a regular meeting point – a place for them to go, to drink, to dance, and to communicate. Likeminded people did the same, and sure enough, the group of comrades grew and grew. As summertime hit, the world could not have seemed more glorious. Graced with great friends and good experiences, the girl continued on her quest to document the music of the city, and continued to do so always with the best of company. To this day, they say that if you attend a concert in one of the city’s many music halls, you might just happen to find her there…
This year has been incredible. I can’t state that enough. I have fallen in love more times than I can count: with the city, with the music, with the people… I’ve achieved so much more than I thought I was capable of, found things I didn’t realise I was searching for, and I know that I’m never going to forget or lose any of them. I won’t let it happen.
I almost feel like it could be a fairy tale sometimes. Sometimes I’ll reach a point in a night where things couldn’t seem to feel more beautiful if they tried. It might be something that’s said, something that’s done, something that’s heard, or even just how everything looks at that particular moment – I’ll fall in love with everything and everyone all over again.
Don’t get me wrong – this year has also been difficult. I’ve felt down and out more times than I’d care to own up to. But that’s the thing – when I’ve been surrounded by something as good as this, by people who make me feel as good as this – I don’t have to turn far for a reason to pick myself back up and smile. There have been some horrors, I’ve even scared myself at points, but here we are at the end of the year, still standing. I’ve come so far in the past twelve months, in so many ways. Not all of it is good, but is it ever? You live, you learn, and you have a bit of fun in the process.
In the past twelve months, I’ve been recognised from reviews I wrote, seen bands in a living room, been invited to video shoots, seen a new club become our hangout, been to glastonbury and back, seen friends support The FREAKING Cribs, got a job in a venue, had press pass at a festival, crowd-surfed in J Gatsby’s house, put on a gig… And that’s just for starters.
But more than that, I’ve done it all with the best of people. If you’re reading this, I want you to know how much you all mean to me: you’re princes and princesses, you’re absolute royalty, and I hope that you all know it. As we hurtle into 2014, let’s do so with a smile. Let’s be young and beautiful for another year longer.