All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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My Life in Television

Over the last year I’ve been writing a sporadic series titled  ‘My Life in…‘ where I highlight the films/books/moments/music that have defined me through each year of my life. Today it’s time to settle onto the couch, as we look over the last thirty-four years of television and all the series that have defined my life.

The rule is simple, for each year since my birth I’ve chosen a show that debuted in that year. These are not necessarily the best television series of each year, but the ones that speak of who I am in my soul.

My Life in Television

poltergeist

No poltergeist was summoned during the writing of this post (I hope!)

1978 ~ GRANGE HILL

Ahhh, Grange Hill. Anyone who grew up in the UK during the 80s will now be flashing back to that magnificent theme tune and remembering Mr Bronson, Mrs McCluskey and Todd Carty (pre-Eastenders). Anyone who grew up outside the UK will now be wondering what the hell this show is…basically it was an ongoing children’s drama set within a comprehensive school; cue storylines involving drug overdoses, mischief-laden school trips and visits to the headmaster’s office. An absolute classic!

1979 ~ NOT THE NINE O’CLOCK NEWS

Aside from Monty Python, this is one of the greatest sketch comedies ever. Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones, Pamela Stevenson and her future husband, Billy Connolly.

1980 ~ YES, MINISTER and KICK START

Yes, Minister – one of the finest political sitcoms ever made. Kick Start – one of the finest ‘perform tricks on a motorcycle’ game shows ever made!

1981 ~ ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES

(Possibly) my favourite British sitcom of all time and the only one to ever make me cry.

1982 ~ THE COMIC STRIP PRESENTS…

This fantastic half-hour comedy series starred Dawn French, Robbie Coltrane, Jennifer Saunders and more. Notable in my life for the single greatest “Famous Five” spoof ever made!

1983 ~ BLACKADDER

If you haven’t seen this comedy series…finish reading this post, leave a jovial comment, then head to your local DVD retailer and pick up the complete series box set. Personally, I love Blackadder II, mainly because Miranda Richardson is magnificent as Queen Elizabeth and Stephen Fry, as always, is superb as Melchett.

1984 ~ THE BILL and CITY LIGHTS

The Bill; a quintessential British police drama than ran until 2010. City Lights; a not quite as quintessential Scottish sitcom that ran until 1991.

1985 ~ TELLY ADDICTS and NEIGHBOURS

In the mid-90s, my family applied to appear as contestants on the television quiz show Telly Addicts. We weren’t successful, but it didn’t deter us playing along at home each and every week. As for Neighbours, this was required viewed for a teenager in the UK when I was growing up. It probably still is! :p

1986 ~ CASUALTY and THE SINGING DETECTIVE

Casualty is a looooonnnnggggggg running drama/soap based in a hospital. Think Grey’s Anatomy without the musical episodes. In researching this article I was surprised to find it is still running. Meanwhile, The Singing Detective is one of the monuments of television drama and demands multiple viewings!

1987 ~ GOING FOR GOLD

A quality quiz show in which contestants from all over Europe competed to win something (I don’t remember what!) The only thing I can remember about this show was the theme music, which was composed by Hans Zimmer – now an Oscar-winning film composer!

1988 ~ THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

This BBC adaptation is still the greatest interpretation of C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s novel. The fact I used to have nightmares about being attacked by giant beavers is in no way a comment on its quality.

1989 ~ QUANTUM LEAP and SAVED BY THE BELL

Saved by the Bell; the show that introduced me to the beautiful Tiffani Amber Theissen. Quantum Leap; the show that (Doctor Who aside) defines my early teenage years. Fun Fact: When Scott Bakula uttered the phrase “Oh Boy” during his appearance in Chuck, I almost died of glee! :p

1990 ~ TWIN PEAKS and THE CRYSTAL MAZE

Twin Peaks is one of the few masterpieces of television…The Crystal Maze, not so much, but was a damned entertaining game show that once upon a time I aspired to be a contestant on.

1991 ~ MR BEAN

I adore Rowan Atkinson. That is all.

1992 ~ HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES

One of the most important television series of my life; I miss this show with an intense and fiery passion.

1993 ~ CRACKER

One of the greatest crime dramas ever!

1994 ~ TAKIN’ OVER THE ASYLUM and DUE SOUTH

Takin’ Over the Asylum is the single greatest drama ever made on the subject of mental illness and should be required watching for anyone working/interested in the field of mental health. Due South is one of the greatest Canadian television series ever and should be required watching for anyone with a Mountie fetish.

1995 ~ HAMISH MACBETH

If there is a man or woman able to watch this show without falling wildly in love with Robert Carlyle, I’ve yet to meet her! If there’s a man or woman able to watch this show without falling wildly in love with Shirley Henderson, I’ve yet to meet her! As for Plockton (aka Luchdubh in the show) I’ve been there…and it’s gorgeous!

1996 ~ THE PRETENDER

All I really remember about this show is that (a) I loved it and (b) they stopped screening it midway through a season so I never found out how it ended.

1997 ~ BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

I have written extensively of my love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I shall say no more about it here.

1998 ~ SEACHANGE, THE MICALLEF P(R)OGRAM(ME) and THE GAMES

There are only four Australian shows on this list, and these are three of them! SeaChange reminds me of my relationship with Louise and the early days of my time in Australia. The Micallef P(r)ogram(me) is the greatest work of Australian comedian (and genius) Shaun Micallef and The Games is possibly the greatest thing to ever be produced in the history of Australian television.

1999 ~ SPACED and FREAKS AND GEEKS

If you have never seen Spaced, you’ve never lived. The same could be said for Freaks and Geeks, but considering it has yet to see an Australian DVD release, few people in Australia have. Their loss!

2000 ~ BLACK BOOKS

The greatest ‘set in a book shop’ sit-com ever made.

2001 ~ SMALLVILLE, UNDECLARED and 24

I’ve often ranked Undeclared as one of the greatest comedy series ever made. But, like it Freaks and Geeks predecessor few people have ever seen it due to a serious lack of DVD release outside of Australia. 24 (and Jack Bauer) is a majestic work of absolute beauty that few people ever really appreciated (or understood), whilst Smallville is one of the great genre shows of the last twenty years. Well, until the hideous monstrosity that was Season 7, that is!

2002 ~ FIREFLY

Yes, it’s the second most over-rated series in the history of television. But it’s still pretty good! :p

2003 ~ ONE TREE HILL

Again, I’ve written a lot about this show in the past, especially how it once saved my life.

2004 ~ RESCUE ME and WONDERFALLS

Wonderfalls – the greatest ‘series that no-one’s ever heard of’ in the history of television. Damn you television networks for cancelling this masterpiece! However, a massive thank you to the networks, cast and crew for the exceptional drama series Rescue Me; one of the ‘must watch’ shows of all time.

2005 ~ HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, INVASION, WEEDS and SUPERNATURAL

Look, I couldn’t choose, okay? How I Met Your Mother is a magnificent sitcom that’s helped me no end over the last several years. Invasion is an underrated gem that introduced me to Alexis Dziena. Weeds is a magnificent opus of delightful writing and incredible acting. Whereas Supernatural is not only a show I’ve turned to in times of great distress but one of the finest urban-fantasy series in recent memory.

2006 ~ 30 ROCK and TORCHWOOD

In regards to 30 Rock: Tina Fey, genius. ‘Nuff said! :p And…if I can’t have Doctor Who (damn you year of birth!) at least I can take some solace with Torchwood.

2007 ~ CHUCK, THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES and SKINS

It was impossible to pick between these three shows. All have saved my life. All are exceptionally well written, beautifully performed and deeply inspirational. Three of my favourite shows of all time.

2008 ~ FRINGE and jPOD

Fringe; a masterwork of science-fiction that took me years to fully appreciate. jPod, yet another show no-one ‘s ever heard of that I adored! Go Canadian television!

2009 ~ COMMUNITY

The greatest comedy series currently being made. And not just because it stars the magnificent Alison Brie! :p

2010 ~ TODD AND THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL

This show helped my survive the chaos that was 26 February 2013; it is also a magnificent and creative comedy-horror series!

2011 ~ GAME OF THRONES

However much I want to dislike like this show because I (occasionally) love being a ‘lone wolf’, I just can’t.

2012 ~ GIRLS

Some of its male characterisation aside (a problem that also affected Sex in the City), this is one of the few series of late that I’ve developed an attachment to.

~ FYI, I deliberately left out animated series. Perhaps I will return to these in the future! :p ~

~~♥~~

Other titles in the “My Life in…” series:
| …movies | …books | …animated movies | …happy memories | …music | …video games |


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My Life in Video Games

Over the last several months I’ve been writing a sporadic series titled  ‘My Life in…‘ where I highlight the films/books/moments/music that have defined me through each year of my life. Today it’s time to get our geek on, as we look over the last thirty-four years of video gaming and all the titles that have defined my life.

The rule is simple, for each year since my birth I have chosen a video game that has resonated throughout my life. Not necessarily the best video game of the year, but the one that would feature in a collection that speaks of who I am in my soul.

My Life in Video Games

My Life in Video Games

1978: Space Invaders (Taito)

1979: Asteroids (Atari)

1980: Pac-Man (Namco)

1981: Frogger (Konami)

The above four games are classics for a reason! Frogger, inparticularly, has long been a favourite of mine! :p

1982: Q*Bert (Gottlieb)

This is one of the first video games I can remember becoming addicted to.

Jetpac

Jetpac (ZX SPectrum)…the first game I ever saved up my pocket money for!

1983: Jetpac (Ultimate Play the Game)

I believe this was the first game I saved up and paid for with my own (pocket) money.

1984: Paperboy (Atari)

When I became a paperboy for real in 1990, I was severely disappointed I couldn’t get away with the shenanigans depicted in this classic game!

1985: Skool Daze (Microsphere)

Obviously being at school wasn’t good enough, I had to play a school based simulator in my free time! Some would call that ‘obsessive’! :p

1986: Kid Icarus (Atari)

Nintendo’s often forgotten hero; countless hours were lost to this game during my childhood. Curse you, Eggplant Wizard!

1987: Mega Man (Capcom)

I’ve been a Mega Man fan from the very beginning. I remember getting the first Mega Man during a shopping trip with my Nan in Hounslow, west of London. Two days later she confiscated it for two days as punishment for something. A few years later, one of its sequels got me into a world of trouble after I stole a little bit of money from a giant whisky bottle our family kept in the dining room so I could afford to purchase it. Damn you, Mega Man! ;)

Mega Man

Mega Man (NES)…this guy was a b*****d, until you remembered you could pause! ;)

1988: Chase HQ (Taito) and Parodius (Konami)

Firstly, Parodius is the greatest side-scrolling shoot-em-up of  all time! Secondly, Chase HQ is a game I have tremendou nostalgia for. A true classic.

1989: Prehistoric Isle (SNK)

I have many fond memories of playing this side-scrolling shoot-em-up with my brother at the Aberdeen leisure centre. He was far better at it than me! :)

1990: Super Mario Bros. 3 (Nintendo)

Greatest. Platform game. Ever! Now…who saw The Wizard?

1991: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Nintendo) and The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (Konami)

Two games with legend in the title, two games that are legends of my life in video games. A Link to the Past set me off on my Zelda obsession whilst Mystical Ninja saw my walkthrough tips published in a video game magazine. Possibly the first time my name was ever in print! :p

1992: Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle (Atelier Double) and Tiny Toon Adventures (Konami)

They’re tiny, they’re toony, they’re all a little loony…if not for Super Mario 3 this would be the best platformer ever. As for Ranma 1/2, it’s here purely for nostalgic reasons as – once upon a time – I was a massive fan of Ranma’s hot/cold water shenanigans! :)

Link's Awakening

Link’s Awakening (Gameboy)…the greatest video game of all time!

1993: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Nintendo) and Secret of Mana (Square)

Okay, all you Ocarina of Time fan boys and girls, I’m sorry to break this to you but Link’s Awakening is THE best Zelda game, period. As for Secret of Mana, this is the only game to come close to Zelda’s brilliance and I have many fond memories of working my way through this game.

1994: Point Blank (Namco) and Ballz (PF Magic)

Ballz, the only beat-em-up I know where you can spank your opponents and one of the only beat-em-ups I ever really enjoyed playing. These two points may or may not be related! :p As for Point Blank, many (many) hours (and coins) were wasted playing this with Diane in Alice Springs; some of my only happy memories of that period of my life.

1995: Yoshi’s Island (Nintendo) and Chrono Trigger (Square)

If it weren’t for Tiny Toon Adventures and Super Mario Bros. 3, Yoshi’s Island would be the best platformer ever. As for Chrono Trigger, it is a work of true genius! :)

1996: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo)

This is here for one reason and one reason only; I hate this game so much it nearly destroyed my love of Mario for the rest of eternity!

1997: Star Fox 64 (Nintendo)

Whilst Mario, Samus and Link get all the glory, people like Pit and Star Fox are forgotten. Which is a shame, for this sci-fi shoot ’em up was pure quality!

Yoshis Island

Yoshi’s Island (SNES)…(almost) the greatest platform game of all time!

1998: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo)

I was always disappointed with the N64 after the genius of the Super Nintendo. However, Ocarina of Time is simply one of the most essential gaming experiences of all time. If you’ve never played this game, add it to your bucket list immediately, for it is a work of supreme genius.

1999: The Longest Journey (Funcom)

The last of the PC based, brain busting adventure games I played and a game that is criminally unknown.

2000: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo)

This game features the greatest video game sub-plot of all time; the three day, re-uniting the lovers storyline. Beautiful! :)

2001: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons (Capcom) and Golden Sun (Camelot Software Planning)

Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons are criminally underrated Zelda games that I’ve spent many a long hour enjoying. Whereas Golden Sun kept my mind busy during the long flight to Australia.

2002: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (Konami)

The Castlevania series are – alongside Battletoads, Ghouls and Ghosts and Mega Man – the hardest video games of all time. Great fun!

The World Ends With You

The World Ends With You (DS)…I would sell my soul to own this game again. Superb!

2003: Zoo Keeper (Robot Communications/Success)

Bloody addictive puzzle game that has helped me on many occasions with controlling self-harm and various anxiety attacks. Why not try it for yourself, as you can play it here for free! :)

2004: The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (Capcom)

Another criminally underrated Zelda game that just happens to be one of my favorite in the series.

2005: Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (Konami)

See Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

2006: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo)

I love, cherish and worship this game. Midna is one of my favorite female video game characters of all time and its story is possibly my favorite of the series. However…damn you stupid Wii fishing controls! :p

2007: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo) and The World Ends with You (Square)

The World Ends with You is easily the greatest game ever made for the DS…and yet it never received an official Australian release. Philistines! Meanwhile, Phantom Hourglass is a glee filled Zelda adventure that simply has to be played.

Burnout Paradise

Burnout Paradise (XBox)…the only XBox game I’ve ever played, for obvious reasons! :p

2008: Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo), Lego Batman (Traveller’s Tales) and Burnout Paradise (Criterion)

Yeah, yeah, I know. But I had to include three games for this year as there was no way around it. I have incredibly fond memories of Mario Karting with Diane in Alice Springs, Burnout Paradise is the only game I’ve ever played on an Xbox console (mainly because my brother was one of its makers) and Audrey would never forgive me if I didn’t include Lego Batman (especially given the bonding we’ve been doing over it!)

2009: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo)

Those friggin’ bunnies! Similar in many ways to Phantom Hourglass and equally enjoyable. This is noteable for featuring my second favorite final-boss fight in the history of the Zelda series (topped only by Twilight Princess‘ epically awesome final battle!)

2010: Monster Hunter Tri (Capcom) and Metroid: Other M (Team Ninja/Nintendo)

Just as Audrey would never forgive me if I’d skipped Lego Batman, I know Meadhbh would never forgive me for not including this. As for Metroid: Other M, its sexism aside, I had a great time playing this game. I just wish we had more strong, kick-ass female video game characters!

2011: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo)

Meh. I really, really wanted to love this game, but I don’t. The controls are pissing annoying, the (usually beautifully designed) bosses are incredibly boring and the dungeons are some of the weakest in the twenty-five year old series. Although there are some redeeming features (the music, revisiting the characters and the Horde Battle) they’re not enough to raise this above ‘meh’, especially given the amazing installments that have come previously.

2012: Lego The Lord of the Rings (Traveller’s Tales)

A game that helped me get through my recent depressive episode. Although it’s good fun, it’s my least favorite of the Lego video games.

Spirit Tracks

Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS)…because I can’t bring myself to post a Skyward Sword image!

~~♥~~

Other titles in the “My Life in…” series:
| …movies | …books | …animated movies | …happy memories | …music |


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My Life in Animated Movies

Over the last several months I have been writing a sporadic series titled  ‘My Life in…‘ where I highlight the films/books/moments/music that have defined me through each year of my life. As it’s been a while since I wrote a fun post, here is ‘My Life in Animated Movies’.

For each year since I was born, until last year, I have chosen an animated movie that has resonated throughout my life. Not necessarily the best animated movie of the year, but the one that would feature in a DVD collection that speaks of who I am in my soul.

Animated Movies

1978       The Lord of the Rings    

This was my introduction into the world of Tolkien and, unlike the recent adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’, can be watched without the sudden need to fall asleep.

1979       The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

This was my introduction into the world of C.S.Lewis…although it’s not as good as the 2005 movie or the classic BBC serial.

1980       Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!)

Charles M. Schulz. ‘Nuff said.

1981       The Fox and the Hound               

This is the first animated film I can remember seeing at the cinema. My mother took my siblings and I to see this in Richmond (London) at a time when I was completely unaware of who Kurt Russell was.

1982       The Secret of NIMH       

Why are rodents so popular when it comes to animation? When the finished product is this good, who really cares?

1983       The Wind in the Willows            

This film used to freak me out. Seriously.

1984       Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind        

Hands up who can pronounce Nausicaä correctly? I saw this for the first time during a Studio Ghibli retrospective at the Cinema Nova in 2005, a magnificent feat of animated storytelling.

1985       The Black Cauldron        

Do you remember heading down to the newsagent as a child and spending your hard earned pocket money on pointless packets of stickers? Do you remember ripping open the packets hoping this time you’d find the one bloody sticker that was preventing you from completing the album, but you never did?

Disney’s The Black Cauldron was the only (the only) sticker album I ever completed and remains in all it’s disheveled, disintegrating glory in a box in my parent’s house as proof completing a Panini album was indeed possible.

1986       The Great Mouse Detective      

If this film hadn’t been made it’s entirely possible my life-long love affair with Sherlock Holmes would never have occurred, for this was my introduction into the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most beloved creation. (see, animated rodents :p)

1987       Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale     

John Clarke provides one of the voices; ‘nuff said!

1988       My Neighbour Totoro   
Runners up: Grave of the Fireflies, The Land Before Time

Simply the greatest animated movie of all time…ever…period! The only people who could possibly disagree with this accolade are those who have never seen it. Hopefully you’re not one of them.

1989       The Little Mermaid        

I used to have a crush on Ariel. Just saying.

1990       Duck Tales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp            

This film will forever remind me of my childhood. And dodgy NES games. And rediculously addictive theme songs.

1991       Beauty and the Beast    

Until I saw My Neighbour Totoro this was my favourite animated movie of all time. At one point I knew it word for word…not exactly something a childless man should be admitting to, which I guess is why I live a socially isolated life :p

1992       Aladdin               

A film I can no longer watch due to it being a trigger to the abusive relationship I was in.

1993       The Wrong Trousers      

Wallace and Gromit were never better than they were in this masterpiece!

1994       The Lion King    

As those who have read this blog know, I once served Jeremy Irons coffee. Squee!

1995       Toy Story            

The second best Toy Story movie, after its first sequel, of course..

1996       James and the Giant Peach        

Better than A Nightmare Before Christmas. Oooooo, controversy :p

1997       Princess Mononoke      

Often forgotten fact…Neil Gaiman worked on the script for the English language version.

1998       A Bug’s Life       

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again; David Hyde Pierce is a genius.

1999       My Neighbours the Yamadas    

Perhaps Studio Ghibli should consider using the word Neighbour in all of their movie titles, for this lesser-known animated masterpiece is superior to some of their better known films.

2000       Titan A.E             

I watched this in Halifax with Rachel. She didn’t like it. Although she, like I, did enjoy the very-Whedon ‘Bob’ exchange.

2001       Monsters Inc   
Runners up: Waking Life, Shrek, Spirited Away

For years after watching this movie Louise (and anyone who I told/found out) teased me mercilessly over the fact I bawled my eyes out when they say goodbye to Boo; one of my favourite animated characters in the history of animated film!

2002       The Wild Thornberrys Movie   

This movie was on the television the day after I was assaulted in 2007. I watched it curled up in a ball and remember thinking ‘why couldn’t you be the Rugrats Movie’? (as I have always loved the Rugrats!)

2003       The Triplets of Belleville             

Magnificent. Beautiful. Inspirational.

2004       The Incredibles               

One of the all-time great CGI movies and easily one of Pixar’s finest.

2005       Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit          

I very nearly didn’t get to see this movie as I refused to switch my phone off for the preview screening I was attending. The phone had no camera facility and I needed to have it on for work (as I was on call). Fortunately, they relented as long as they witnessed me putting it on silent (something I always do when going to the cinema anyway!)

2006       Happy Feet

I watched this with my parents on Christmas Day 2006; my last ‘enjoyable’ Christmas. Given I was suffering from Glandular Fever at the time I fell asleep when Mumble arrived at the zoo so, to this day, have no idea how the film ended as I didn’t wake up until the credits had started rolling.

2007       Ratatouille        

This is a film I watched during an anxiety ridden flight from Melbourne to London in 2008. My least favourite Pixar film, most likely because of the bad memories it brings of this horrible flight! Also, more animated bloody rodents!

2008       Ponyo  

Another Studio Ghibli gem.

2009       Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs        

A film that never failed to make me smile…until three days ago, when even this was unable to break the insidious depressive episode I’ve found myself in.

2010       How to Train Your Dragon
Runner up: Tangled

My favourite CGI animated movie of all time. Simply stunning.

2011       Puss in Boots    

I’ve never really been a fan of the vastly overrated Shrek movies, but this spin-off was quite marvellous. The short that accompanies it on the DVD is also wonderful :)

2012       Brave   

Perhaps it’s the red-headed Scottish heroine. Perhaps because it reminds me of Miyazaki. Perhaps because it’s highly under-rated. Perhaps because I watched it on a good mood day. I don’t know. All I do know is that I loved this movie from beginning to end and it should have received far more acclaim than it did.

See also:

My Life in Movies
My Life in Books
My Life in Happy Memories
My Life in Music

and

Addy’s Top Twenty Animated Films of All Time


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My Life in Music: Albums that have defined my life

Welcome to another installment in my occasional “My life in…” series.

Previous installments have seen me cast my eye over the movie industry, the literary industry and the more personal, happy moments of my life.

For those who have missed the earlier installments, the premise is simple: for every year of my life I select one album that means the most to me. It doesn’t have to be what I consider the best album of that year, but the album my life would not be complete without.

Unlike the earlier posts, I decided to impose a few restrictions to prevent certain artists overpowering the list:

(1) Album must have been originally released in the allotted year (no re-releases)
(2) Artists can only appear as album of the year twice (no restrictions on ‘just missing out’)
(3) No film score soundtracks (with the exception of Local Hero which is musical nirvana)
(4) No compilation or ‘best of’ albums (with the exception of live albums)
(5) All albums must be relevant to my life (i.e. not selected purely based on critical acclaim)

My Life in Music

~ 1978 ~
Play Gaelic (Runrig)

I’ve always found it rather serendipitous that my favourite band (of all time) released their debut album the year I was born. The band, originally called ‘The Run Rig Dance Band’ was formed in 1973 by brothers Calum and Rory Macdonald as a three-piece dance band that predominantly played wedding receptions. Following their first gig at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, they have gone on to release thirteen studio albums across their thirty-nine year history.

More than any other artist, Runrig are the musicians of my life. I first came across them in 1999, when they played a free concert to celebrate the (unofficial) millennium in Inverness. Not being aware of them at the time I heard only a couple of songs from a distance and, as my love for their music grew to epic proportions, have long regretted not attending this concert in its entirety as I’ve never been in a position to see them live again.

Their first album, Play Gaelic, was (as the title suggests) performed entirely in Scottish Gaelic and throughout their career Runrig have continued to write and perform songs in their native tongue.

Despite having gone through several line-up changes, including the replacement of lead singer Donnie Munro after he left to pursue a political career, Runrig are still performing to this day.

Hopefully, they will continue for many years to come.

~ 1979 ~
The Wall (Pink Floyd)

My last girlfriend Diane was a huge Pink Floyd fan, and who isn’t? Although I had heard this before, whenever I think of this album I remember a rather lovely, low-key evening of dining, chatting and bathing that she and I shared together.

Aside from that, this is one of the world’s great albums and one of the few accepted classics on this list of defining music of my life.

~ 1980 ~
Remain in Light (Talking Heads)
Just missing out: Flash Gordon (Queen)

It was Louise (she who is responsible for introducing me to many great musicians) that brought Talking Heads to my attention. In much the same way as when she first played me Nick Cave, I was not overly impressed with them. Although I have grown to like them over the years (although nowhere near the level of love that I now have for Nick Cave, see below) this reason is a defining album of my life as it provided the soundtrack to a rather delicious evening of…well, I shall let you use your imaginations about this! :p

~ 1981 ~
Dead Set (Grateful Dead)
Just missing out: Reckoning (Grateful Dead)

Another classic band that I have loved for a long period of my life, harking back to my teenage years of loneliness and confusion. When they were featured on the Freaks and Geeks soundtrack it was impossible for me to hide my excitement. A true classic.

~ 1982 ~
Craigie Dhu (Dougie MacLean)

As this list continues, it will become apparent just how much Scottish music has meant to me through my life. The music of artists such as Runrig, The Proclaimers, Peatbog Faeries and Paul Mounsey touch my heart in ways that other nationalities fail to do. Perhaps this is because Scotland runs deep in my blood, blood that is spoken to by the music of the land I love so much.

Dougie MacLean is a singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and OBE recipient. His song Caledonia has long been considered the unofficial Scottish National Anthem and was my introduction into his music. I discovered it on an album called From the ends of the earth, a live album composed of tracks recorded at two concerts (one in Scotland, one in Australia).

From there I went on to listen to each and every one of his albums, Craigie Dhu being a personal favourite.

~ 1983 ~
Local Hero (Mark Knopfler)

Considering I spent a long period of time in 1999 tracking down as many locations from the film Local Hero that I could, it should go without saying that this is one of my favourite films of all time.

A large part of my affection for this movie is the sublime score from Dire Strait’s front man, Mark Knopfler.

Quite possibly the most played album of my life and, after a five-year hiatus, I am once again the proud owner of this musical masterpiece courtesy of a 50% off second-hand CD sale in a local store. The $2 I paid for that copy is perhaps the greatest bargain of my music purchasing life!

~ 1984 ~
From Her to Eternity (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)

I didn’t know who Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were until I met Louise in 2000. When she first asked my opinion of them I stared at her blankly and said one word: ‘who?’. Almost immediately she pulled out her Discman and slipped in The Boatman’s Call album, forcing me to listen to what would become one of my favourite songs of all time; Into Your Arms.

Initially I wasn’t a fan. I found his music un-compelling and rather boring, a reaction that I cannot understand having to this day. Over the years my love for every one of his albums has grown exponentially and woven themselves into the fabric of my life for the rest of time.

~ 1985 ~
Brothers in Arms (Dire Straits)

A group (and album) that I discovered courtesy of my father’s extensive music collection after discovering the great Mark Knopfler courtesy of his Local Hero soundtrack. The title track has long been a personal favourite and one that caused a monumental squee moment when it was used during an exceptionally good musical montage in the superb Canadian television series Due South.

~ 1986 ~
A Kind of Magic (Queen)

It wasn’t long after watching Highlander for the first time that I listened to this album, again courtesy of my dad’s collection. Although there have been better and more widely acclaimed Queen albums, it’s connection to a film and television series that has been a major passion of mine through my life elevates this album onto the list.

~ 1987 ~
Heaven on Earth (Belinda Carlisle)

There is only one reason that this album is on the list. The song Heaven is a Place on Earth was a song that played at my very first school disco, held in a Church Hall in Portlethen that same year. Whenever I hear that song I think of this night; dancing like a fool with my friends, trying to persuade the tuck shop lady to give me free sweets after I lost my pocket-money and my father pointing out Haley’s Comet streaking through the sky after he came to take me home.

~ 1988 ~
Sunshine on Leith (The Proclaimers)
Just missing out: Kylie (Kylie Minogue)

I had been a fan of this album for many years before Louise walked into a HMV in Edinburgh and purchased the entire back catalogue of The Proclaimers. For weeks the only music that played in our bedsit was the contagious sound of these Scottish twins.

For years my affection for The Proclaimers was a source of great teasing amongst my friends (especially Grace, who had an almost allergic reaction to their music). This teasing reached a climax when I finally had the opportunity to see them live when they performed in Melbourne to mark the release of their Restless Soul album.

~ 1989 ~
Parallel Dreams (Loreena McKennitt)
Just missing out: Bizarro (The Wedding Present)

When I decided to travel to Scotland I knew I would have to listen to Standing Stones once I reached Orkney. In fact this song was one of the driving desires that led me to these great islands.

Sneaking away from my tour group I sat in the shadow of the Ring of Brodgar, gazing down toward the Stones of Stenness, and played this haunting melody. For as long as I live I will never forget that blissful moment of peace and serenity.

~ 1990 ~
Charcoal Lane (Archie Roach)

The first musical gig I ever attended was in November 2002, when My Friend the Chocolate Cake and Archie Roach performed a duel concert in Melbourne. Having heard only one of his tracks before (courtesy of the Seachange soundtrack) I was blown away by the talent of this great man. Within weeks I had procured his entire back catalogue and spent many mornings listening to his music as I went on my morning walks along Elwood Beach.

~ 1991 ~
Waking Up the Neighbours (Bryan Adams)

Bryan Adams has long been one of my guilty pleasures (I Wanna Be Your Underwear, anyone?) For a period in the mid-nineties, whilst all my peers were relishing in Oasis, Blur and the Britpop explosion, I was sitting in my room singing along to this Canadian soft-rock genius.

~ 1992 ~
Get Out (Capercaillie)
Just missing out: Cut (Hunters & Collectors)

Capercaillie are a Scottish folk group led by Karen Matheson. Rightly considered at the forefront of Scottish folk music, Capercaillie have garnered world-wide recognition and applause over the twenty-eight years they have been performing.

Aside from their most recent album (Roses and Tears) I once owned every CD they’d ever produced, including the little known Glenfinnan (Songs of the ’45), but it was Get Out that continually eluded me. After finally tracking it down on eBay my hands were literally trembling as I unwrapped the parcel and slipped the shiny disc into the CD player.

I think part of me knew how much that album would go on to mean to me.

~ 1993 ~
Fumbling Toward Ecstasy (Sarah McLachlan)
Just missing out: Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell (Meat Loaf), Jamu Dreaming (Archie Roach)

During the late nineties (courtesy of two of my favourite shows at the time, Due South and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) I fell for the music of Sarah McLachlan. For anyone who has listened to her music this shouldn’t be too hard to understand. Superbly written songs (Hold On) mixed with a haunting voice and beautiful instrumentation render her CDs some of the best mainstream folk you will ever hear.

Although I am a fan of Surfacing, as well as her early work of Touch and Solace, it is this album (and it’s sister recording, The Freedom Sessions) that live on in my heart. Coming at a time when I was lost and directionless after leaving school these albums helped me realise I should follow my heart. A decision that ultimately led to my backpacking odyssey around Scotland and Canada.

On a sidenote, the title track of this album inspired one of my Buffy fan-fics, which can be read here if you dare!

~ 1994 ~
Grace (Jeff Buckley) and Intimate (Toni Pearen)
Just missing out: Setting the Woods on Fire (The Walkabouts)

It is impossible for me to prioritize which of these wildly opposite artists is more important to my life so I had no option but to call it a tie.

Grace was Louise’s favourite album and Hallelujah was our song, as such it will remain one of the most important albums of my life, even though I cannot listen to it these days without feeling emotional pain.

Meanwhile, Toni Pearen was one of Louise’s least favourite people. She could never understand my fascination with the E-Street and Australia’s Funniest Home Videos star and would often tease me mercilessly about my attraction to her. After first discovering she had released an album during the 90s I vowed to track it down, a vow that was reinforced several years later when I decided to move to Australia.

After months of searching I tracked it down on cassette in a second-hand music store in Prahran and, for a moment, felt pure happiness at succeeding in a long-standing life goal.

~ 1995 ~
Different Class (Pulp)

One of my favourite albums of the 90s and one that secured its place in my heart when Sammi and I karaoked Common People in 2008.

~ 1996 ~
Naked (Louise)
Just missing out: Bothy Culture (Martyn Bennett), A Whisky Kiss (Shooglenifty)

The very first album I purchased! To this day I will stand by my statement that I purchased this for the high quality of the music and not because a hot woman I fancied the hell out of was singing about being naked!

~ 1997 ~
Two Houses (Paul Gross & David Keeley)
Just missing out: The Boatman’s Call (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds), Impossible Princess (Kylie Minogue)

I loved Due South. I loved it from the very first episode and continued to proclaim my love for it until the very end of the often criticised, grossly misunderstood, final season.

The reason I purchased this album was solely down to my love of the show and lead actor Paul Gross. Little did I know as I walked out of HMV Cardiff all those years ago I would be clutching one of those rare albums that provide the music for key moments of someone’s life.

This album was one of the few that accompanied me around my backpacking trip to Scotland. I listened to it on trains, buses and ferry. I sung it as I hiked roads, glens and forests. I listened to it so much I wore the cassette down so much it wouldn’t play any more.

To this day I know every word, to every song on this album, and it will forever remind me of one of the best periods of my life.

~ 1998 ~
Little Plastic Castle (Ani DiFranco)
Just missing out: Transcendental Highway (Colin Hay)

Annie is the person who introduced me not only to Ani DiFranco but to this album. As we drove around the wilder regions of Canada having random adventures and creating life-long memories, this album played through the car’s stereo system. Whenever the title track plays I think of heart stopping trips to mountainous hot springs and when I hear the second track, Fuel, I am reminded that good songwriting will always trounce manufactured mainstream pop.

~ 1999 ~
Nahoo 3: Notes from the Republic (Paul Mounsey)
Just missing out: 7 (Wolfstone), Mule Variations (Tom Waits), Trail of Stars (The Walkabouts)

My second favourite album of all time. No more needs to be said other than this is a work of a musical genius at the top of his game.

~ 2000 ~
Oops, I Did It Again (Britney Spears)
Just missing out: Faerie Stories (Peatbog Faeries)

I first hear the title track whilst staying at the Glenfinnan Sleeping Car – a backpacker hostel made out of a disused train sleeping carriage nestled at the side of Glenfinnan railway station. Although it is far from my favourite song of all time, this album would go on a few months later to provide the soundtrack to my arrival in Canada.

For those first few weeks this song was playing everywhere I went, cementing it as one of the defining albums of my life as it will forever remind me of this glorious period of my life.

~ 2001 ~
One Eyed Man (Mark Seymour)
Just missing out: Too Close to Heaven (The Waterboys), Loss (Mull Historical Society), Solar Sheers (Shooglenifty)

After listening to (and loving) Seymour’s track Home Again on the Seachange soundtrack I was keen to discover more of this artist. Whilst randomly perusing second-hand music stores a few weeks after arriving in Australia I saw this album sitting in a clearance bin for a few dollars.

It became the first album I purchased in Australia and over the years has become one of my favourite albums.

~ 2002 ~
Curious (My Friend the Chocolate Cake)
Just missing out: Time and Tide (Battlefield Band), Beautiful Collision (Bic Runga)

My Friend the Chocolate Cake was the first group I saw perform live. This album was the one being promoted during those concerts.Thus a life-long love between it and me was born.

~ 2003 ~
City of Walls (Paul Mounsey)
Just missing out: Final Straw (Snow Patrol)

After Runrig and Serena Ryder, Paul Mounsey is my third favourite musician of all time and this album contains my all time favourite track of his; Taking Back the Land.

~ 2004 ~
Disarming (Ember Swift)
Just missing out: 40 Days (The Wailin’ Jennys), Day of Days (Runrig)

In 2005 I attended the Port Fairy Folk Festival for the first time. In the lead up to attending I put aside a small amount of money to buy a few CDs from artists I had never heard of before, artists who I would hear for the very first time during the festival. Madviolet was one, Serena Ryder another. The third was Canadian Ember Swift, who stunned me not only with her musical prowess but the divinity of her lyrics.

Although I’m not sure if it still exists, unlike the other records I purchased during this time, I adored Ember Swift so much I fought through the anxiety to purchase this album from her personally; scoring a signed CD and brief conversation in the progress.

~ 2005 ~
Storyboard (This is Your Captain Speaking)
Just missing out: Everything in Transit (Jack’s Mannequin), Unlikely Emergency (Serena Ryder)

I purchased this album on a whim on my way from work in 2005. After a stressful day at the hostel I swung by Polyestor records on Brunswick Street and bought this on the strength of the cover art alone. I had never heard of the group, had no idea what their sound was like, I didn’t even know their genre.

It has since become not only one of the defining albums of my life, but one of my top five albums of all time.

~ 2006 ~
If Your Memory Serves You Well (Serena Ryder)
Just missing out: At War with the Mystics (The Flaming Lips), Eyes Open (Snow Patrol)

After a difficult year, by the end of 2006 I was slowly beginning to rebuild my life. I had a job, was preparing to begin college, felt more secure in my social network and was in a relationship with a woman I loved. As a birthday treat I purchased Serena Ryder’s new album from JB Hi-Fi in Prahran on my way home from my first day in my new job.

I knew I would love the album based on my affection for her debut Unlikely Emergency. What I didn’t know is that this album contained a song that would go on to become my favourite song of all time: Weak in the Knees.

~ 2007 ~
The Story (Brandi Carlile)
Just missing out: A Brighter Beat (Malcolm Middleton)

This album will forever and eternity remind me of this blog. It is impossible to count how many times I listened to this album whilst writing the early posts that laid the foundation for this blog. The Story, Turpentine, Again Today…whenever I hear these stunning songs I am transported back to those lonely, lost days of attempting to rebuild my life the only way I know how.

By taking risks, by pushing the boundaries, by being me.

~ 2008 ~
Funhouse (Pink)
Just missing out: Feel Good Ghosts [Tea Partying through Tornados] (Cloud Cult), Is it OK (Serena Ryder)

I’d always liked Pink but I didn’t truly love her until this album. Alongside the hideous All Summer Long and The Living End’s White Noise, this is a major soundtrack to my time in Alice Springs and my relationship with Diane.

~ 2009 ~
Middle Cyclone (Neko Case)
Just missing out: Lungs (Florence and the Machine)

Another artist that Louise introduced me to. When she first played Blacklisted I had no idea who the artist was nor why her music dug into my soul as deeply as it did. By the time Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was released I was an all out fan. So when Middle Cyclone was released in 2009 I knew I had to purchase it.

Little did I know that it would become the last CD I’d buy before becoming homeless later that year.

~ 2010 ~
I Speak Because I Can (Laura Marling)
Just missing out: Innerspeaker (Tame Impala)

It was my father (a continuous source of great music) who introduced Laura Marling to me. During one of the many phone calls we shared to keep me sane throughout my homelessness he informed me Laura Marling had won a Brit award for this album. At the time I didn’t know who she was, but the next time I was online some weeks later I made a point to look her up.

Ultimately I tracked down the entire album and over the course of an hour found renewed inspiration during a difficult period of my homelessness.

~ 2011 ~
Travels in the Dustland (The Walkabouts)

When I think of artists that I love unconditionally, very few spring to mind. Runrig goes without saying, as does Serena Ryder. After those would follow Paul Mounsey, Nina Simone and Pink. The only other that I can think of is The Walkabouts, a critically acclaimed yet criminally unknown band hailing from Seattle.

My first introduction to The Walkabouts came when I purchased the album Trail of Stars in a discount bin of an Inverness record shop. Although I liked it, I had never heard of the group before and over the years this album disappeared as I moved across the globe.

Years later, after falling in love with Charles de Lint, I began to notice he would frequently list this group as one of his musical inspirations throughout the writing of his novel. Reminded of my enjoyment of Trail of Stars I found a copy of their anthology Watermarks: Selected Songs 1991-2002 in Polyester records and purchased it.

From the moment I heard the trio of opening tracks (Till I Reach You, Rebecca Wild, The Light Will Stay On) I knew this band become something special in my life; and not for the first time, I was right.

This album, their first in six years, marked the end of my music purchasing drought that began with Neko Case in 2009.

~ 2012 ~
Harmony (Serena Ryder)
Just missing out: Nightflight (Kate Miller-Heidke)

Given I have written of Serena Ryder (and this album) quite extensively of late, all I’ll say is that Harmony is pure musical bliss and I couldn’t have hoped for a better album to end this most tumultuous, surprising and difficult of years.

Other installments in this series:

My Life in Movies
My Life in Books
My Life in Happy Memories

~ What albums define your life? No matter how cheesy or embarrassing. ~


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My Life in Happy Memories

A few months ago I wrote a blog post called My Life in Movies that was swiftly followed by My Life in Books. Throughout my depression fuelled hiatus I came up with other ideas to continue this series, so to coincide with an attempt to reignite this blog, here is another installment; the somewhat personal, My Life in Happy Memories, where I pluck a happy memory (or two) from each year of my life.

My Life in Happy Memories

1978 – Sleepy

A blissful state of calm, relaxed, inspirational contentment as I chilled in and out of sleepiness in my mother’s womb.

1979 – Aardvarks!

In March of this year I saved the world from an invasion of aardvark like aliens with an aversion to sherbet.

Or am I just writing something silly because I remember nothing from being 3 – 12 months old?

1980 – Tea Bag Sandwiches

In mid 1980 my mother passed out as a result of her diabetes. This occurred early in the morning, before Play School, leaving my three-year old brother to ensure I didn’t stab myself in the eye with a fork or ingest oven cleaner. At some point in the day he realised I would need to be fed (presumably around the time I kept screaming I was hungry) and made me a tea bag sandwich to sate my appetite. This filling was not chosen out of spite or a cunning practical joke, but merely because the bread and tea bags were the only things he could reach in the kitchen.

Unlike the two years above, this is actually true. My mother was in a coma for two weeks before finally coming out of it.

1981 – Blankie!

All I remember about this year is being a cute little boy with an addiction to his blankie. I loved that blanket!

1982 – Blankie! (Reprise)

All I remember about this year is…ummm…still being a cute little boy with an addiction to his blankie. I really loved that blanket!

1983 – RIP Blankie!

See 1981 and 1982 above…until my blankie was mysteriously destroyed in a freak washing machine ‘accident’!

Treharris Library – the site of my first memory!

1984 – My first memory

My earliest memory in life is walking from my home to the public library several miles away all on my own. In hindsight, the distance was more like a few hundred metres, but I still think it’s awesome my first memory is going to the library to indulge in a variety of literary delights.

1985 – Ummmmm…

I have no memory of this year whatsoever, sorry! I must have sustained a head injury as it’s too early in my life to have been the result of an alcohol fuelled blackout.

1986 – Let no more be said on the matter!

My only real memory of this year isn’t so much a happy memory, but an embarrassing one, as it involves Indiana Jones pyjamas and partial nudity. Let no more be said on the matter!

1987 – Rats!

Or rather, gerbils! For this was the year my brother staggered out of his room at two in the morning proclaiming his pet gerbils had escaped and woken him up. It took several hours to find them, and the whole bizarre hunt around the house still makes me laugh to this day.

1988 – Agatha

December 1988 saw the single greatest piece of acting the town of Portlethen had ever witnessed. This may sound like arrogant modesty, but my turn as Agatha (one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters) was exquisite. And yes, I looked remarkable in a pink nightie!

1989 – Summer Holiday

In 1989 my family went on a holiday to Jersey, the crown jewel of the Channel Islands. Aside from an early addiction to fruit machines my strongest memories of this wonderful holiday are play acting Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in the holiday camp’s swimming pool, and this amusing oddity.

Loch Ness © Addy

1990 – The Loch

For the five years that we had been living in Scotland, my parents had always promised to take us to Loch Ness. A few weeks before we moved to the land of leaks and marauding male voice choirs, they followed through and we set off on a day trip across the country where I, for the first time, became haunted by the epic body of water that I have since spent so much time exploring.

I recall little of the journey to Inverness, but remember arriving at the loch and beginning the circular journey around its shores. At one point we stopped for a picnic lunch. At another my father drove faster and faster, freaking out my sister, with every increase in speed. At another I swore I saw Nessie, as indicated in photographs and the old-school speech bubble stickers that were popular at the time.

I’ve often seen this visit as one of the moments that solidified my love of Scotland and, in my mind, the last time I can remember the family doing something together before the effects of my sister’s mental illness fully take hold.

1991 – Ummmmm…

I have no memory of this year whatsoever, sorry! Possibly the result of a sugar overload as I don’t recall any head injuries and it’s still too early to be the fault of alcohol.

1992 – Girls, or rather, just one girl

This was the year I developed a crush on the most beautiful girl at school. She who had such a beautiful smile and, with her excellent bottom, looked spectacular in her netball skirt. I would love to write that I got to know her beyond this, but alas, my anxiety had already started taking hold.

Damn you anxiety!

1993 – The greatest video game of all time!

If you were to ask people what their favourite Zelda game is the most common response would be “Ocarina of Time“. Occasionally, you’ll have someone respond “Majora’s Mask” which will instigate an argument of epic proportions, despite the latter being far superior. Even rarer, someone will say “Twilight Princess“. Rarer still, would be the answer “What the frak is Zelda?” because it would be easier to find a flying pig than a Battlestar Galactica fan who doesn’t know the Legend of Zelda series.

When someone asks me what my favourite Zelda game is I always respond with Link’s Awakening. Not the dodgy colorized reboot, but the monochrome original, which is simply the greatest video game of all time. From the quality music score (yay, Ballad of the Wind Fish), to the storyline, to the awesome bosses (yay, Genie in a bottle), to the Pegasus feather, to the fact you can steal from the shop (yay, THIEF!) every single aspect of this game is pure excellence.

In a year when my mental health issues were beginning to escalate I have never forgotten my trip to Cardiff that summer to purchase an imported version of the game, and then playing it with a massive smile on my face until – twenty-four hours later – I’d uncovered every nook and cranny of the game.

Nearly twenty years later, I can still remember the laugh that erupted from my mouth as the timeless Zelda fanfare chimed out to the text “You’ve got Marin…!”)

1994 – Assembly Anxiety

In a year that saw my self-harm and anxiety escalate, the conversation I shared with the girl of my dreams (see 1992, above) as we bumped into each other on the way to assembly stands out. She really was incredibly hot!

1995 – The Secret of Mana

Given my admittance that I screwed up in choosing my A-Levels, my early weeks of this period were markedly improved with an epic multiplayer game of the SNES classic Secret of Mana with a school friend.

1996 – Even Andrew is drinking!

In 1996 I embarked on a school trip to the University of Exeter for a series of Maths based lectures. Yep, other schools got trips to the Alps or Venice, I got to go to Devon to listen to old men talk about algebra!

Upon arriving we were shown to our share rooms and sat around talking. As a couple of the girls walked past the room discussing their boredom one of them glanced in and saw me sipping on a bottle and proclaimed “Even Andrew is drinking!” – which, given I was one of the ‘geeks’ of the school was considered somewhat unbelievable. One of the boys in my room called back that it was just Sprite – unaware that I’d cunningly replaced the contents with vodka before leaving that morning.

1997 – My first homeless experience

Although many would consider it selfish, immature, heartless and plain naughty (rightly so) my happiest memory of this year was when I ran away from home. I understand how that sounds, but, in a valiant attempt to defend my choice, after years of dreaming, wishing and self-hating I got off my arse and did something for myself.

I can still recall the shrieks of the gulls as I disembarked the train at Inverness station and gulping in the fresh sea breeze as I ignored the enormity of what I was doing. That first day I walked nearly 30 miles down the A82 with a ridiculously heavy backpack purely because I (irrationally) decided it would be a good idea. The second day I explored the legend of Nessie. The third day visited Fort William (my home from home) for the first time. The fourth, my introduction to Glenfinnan occurred. The fifth, back in Inverness. Then, over coming days, Aberdeen, Stirling, Edinburgh.

No matter how much of an arse I was disappearing, for which I spent a considerable time apologising, I can recall few times in my life where I felt as happy as I did exploring my adopted homeland as I did that week.

1998 – Ummmmm…

I have no memory of this year whatsoever, sorry! This one is most likely an alcohol fuelled blackout.

1999 – A Shy Guy in Scotland: Addy’s Scottish Adventure

After years of depression, anxiety and angst I jacked in my job, my home and the promise of a secure future to tackle my social anxiety head on with a backpacking jaunt around my favourite country in the world; Scotland.

Months of traversing Glens, Lochs, Sounds and Cities marked the coming of Addy and one of the greatest periods of my life; four months long-terming in a backpacker hostel in Inverness. Hence why I will shortly be writing a retrospective of this period on this very blog!

So keep your eyes peeled for A Shy Guy in Scotland: Addy’s Scottish Adventure.

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney © Addy

Athabasca River © Addy

2000 – A Shy Guy in Canada: Addy’s Canadian Odyssey

The year 2000 will always be the year of Elks, endless train journeys, Kittyfantasticobeaver and Loonies. Three months of heaven yo-yo-ing across this great nation is one of – if not the happiest memory of my life. Hence why I will shortly be writing a retrospective of this period on this very blog!

So keep your eyes peeled for A Shy Guy in Canada: Addy’s Canadian Odyssey.

2001 – My first time (laugh if you will)

As previously mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I was a virgin until the early hours of the 1 January 2001. However pathetic this sounds, my first time was actually remarkably wonderful, hence why it, and the relationship that followed, will always be forefront in my mind for the year 2001.

2002 – Arriving in the land Down Under

After, quite frankly, a frustrating and annoying year of feeling like shit whilst living in my parent’s house as my girlfriend gallivanted around Europe and then returned to Australia without me, my year took a more positive turn at the end of October when I left the UK and journeyed to the other side of the world.

My first week in Australia was marked with randomly falling asleep on the beach (cheers, jet lag), getting lost trying to find a bookshop in Elwood and ending up in Elsternwick, a somewhat anxiety challenging party and falling in love with the recently opened Federation Square.

Good times.

2003 – Residency

It was November 2003 and I was walking along the Princes Street bridge in Melbourne. My beautiful girlfriend’s hand was in my own and as we walked toward the city she stopped, turned to me and smiled. Before she gave me a soft, delicious kiss, she told me that for the first time in over a year I looked perfectly happy and relaxed.

She was right; twelve months of stress, residency applications, unemployment, adjusting to a new country and oscillating in and out of depression had ended. I had just attained a full-time job, was deeply in love, financially fine for the first time in years and had slowly begun accepting Australia as my ‘home’ after being granted temporary residency.

2004 – Mum and Dad, this is Australia.

It had been over two years since I’d last seen them when my parents arrived in Australia for a three-week visit. I’d taken this entire time off work so I could relish in showing them around Melbourne and Australia. Cue tourist trips to Melbourne Zoo, the Aquarium, the Great Ocean Road and many of the finer places Victoria has to offer.

This period is populated with wonderful, happy memories – my parents have often said this is the happiest they’d ever seen me – one of which has been written about already, with more to follow.

2005 – An Oasis in the North

At the tail end of this year I had, after years of hard work, managed to turn a rather crap little backpacker hostel in the North of Melbourne into one of the finest accommodation options in the state. An achievement I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if not for the sterling work of my dedicated, talented team.

2006 – No comment

The happiest day of the year involved: ice skating, the circus, bikinis, an embarrassing public display that happens to men from time to time, salad sandwiches, a moonlit stroll, pasta and a woman covering herself in raw meat.

I shall leave it to your imagination to piece all this together.

2007 – A bet that is best described as Fifty Shades meets How I Met Your Mother!

Glandular fever, breakdowns, self-harm, manic phases, suicide attempts, the loss of everything I owned and my spiritual and emotional death dominate every week and month of this year, thus making happy memories few and far between.

Aside from the state of mind I reached in January/February, where, for the first time in my life I was happy with who I was, where I was and the direction my life was heading, there is only the viewing of series 3 of Doctor Who and Samantha left.

And however much I love Tennant’s sophomore year in the role, not even he can eclipse the night I met Sammi.

I read somewhere that episodes of mental health don’t change a person’s personality completely, they merely remove inhibition and amplify a person’s innate character. Under normal circumstance I would never in a million years walk up to a woman and say ‘hi’, let alone introduce myself by smacking them on the backside, but this is exactly what I did…and followed it with a near ninety minute monologue.

Sammi once told me she didn’t know what to do during that initial ninety minutes. Torn between being totally freaked out by my incessant talking and driven by curiosity to see whether I would stop talking before I passed out.

Thankfully, the curiosity won out, and as the evening progressed into alcohol fuelled manic insanity it was she who suggested the bet that I will never forget; cue streaking Rundle Mall in order to win it :)

2008 – I am come home

This year will always be remembered by my two trips to Scotland, the first time I’d visited my homeland in six years.

The first, a catalogue of memories beginning with walking through the High Street of my home from home as I made the journey from train station to hotel and continuing through day trips to Rhum, hiking Glen Nevis, a blissful three course meal in Drumnadrochit, making video diaries in the middle of a storm on Aberdeen beach and ending with the lesson that you can never go home again upon witnessing the changes Inverness had gone through.

The second trip was less outward exploration, more inward reflection and soul-searching. Meeting up with Sammi in Glasgow saw philosophical and intimate conversation take the front as she demolished my barriers to bring out the person she could see buried deep beneath the surface. A tact that saw the realisation of a dream and one of the greatest memories of my life, which alas, my anxiety prevents me from writing about in detail.

2009 – Geckos!

In the year that saw me become homeless, one of my last happy memories was a moonlit hunt for geckos (and other reptilian delights) in Central Australia.

Central Australia © Addy

2010 – One Tree Hill

Being the second worst year of my life (given that the vast majority of it was spent going insane in a park), my only real happy memory amidst the cavalcade of assault, insanity, loneliness and self-hate is the period I spent watching the oft-maligned, oft-misjudged One Tree Hill. I’ve written about this previously, and with the imminent Australian release of season 9, will most likely write about it again soon.

2011 – Taken for Granted

After months of sleeping on the street I managed, with the help of my parents, to afford a motel for the night of my birthday. Only once you’ve been away from the comforts you take for granted – running water, toilet, bed, warmth, shelter – can you fully understand how blissful this was for me :)

>>NEXT WEEK: MY LIFE IN…well, you’ll just have to wait and see!