Ten little things that helped make 2009 a good year

by Steve

We think in generalities, but we live in detail.

Alfred North Whitehead
English mathematician & philosopher (1861 – 1947)

The web and the wider world are full of ‘best of’ lists, looking back at the past year and indeed the last decade. However, I thought I didn’t have a whole lot worth adding to the more general debates, such as best albums, best films, best sportsmen and women. Does the world really need another end of year/decade review?

So…instead I’ve decided to compile a list of some ‘little’ things I’ve enjoyed this year. Maybe this will offer a tiny insight into my world, and hopefully prompt some thought on those little things in life that make the world a more enjoyable place. Life is all in the details.

1. The seaside

This year I’ve been to the seaside several times with my Significant Other, and had a wonderful time on every occasion. In the UK we’re really lucky in that you are never that far from the sea. Maybe there is some primal pull, but more likely it’s great to regress to being a kid again, with ice creams, crazy golf, dashing around the arcades, skimming stones and fish and chips on the beach. We realised that we can jump on a train and in an hour or so effectively be on holiday, if only for the day. A great way to ‘get away from it all’, and cheap too!

2. Actually going to the football

I used to go to games all the time years ago, but I think following a team week-in, week-out is probably a young man’s game. Saying that, there’s nothing to stop me going to see a match from time to time, and I’ve got back into that this year, again accompanied by my ever-supportive Significant Other. We live close to Charlton Athletic, who late last season started giving tickets away as they hurtled towards relegation. This season has been far better for them, and popping down the other week on a whim and catching a game was a lot of fun.

3. Piccolo coffee

I was never a big coffee drinker. But this year I’ve fallen for the trendy coffee brigade’s fancy drinks. A piccolo is kind of like a very strong, yet miniature, latte, essentially an espresso topped up with a little milk. I’ll often grab one from a little coffee stall near work, generally at lunchtime, to kickstart my afternoon. It is absolutely delicious, and a welcome change from the luke-warm, sugary, whipped cream abominations from the big chains. I’m on course to become a coffee snob!

4. Scoring baseball

More to come on this soon, folks, I promise. But generally speaking, I had real fun following this year’s MLB season. Even though the Mets were beyond rubbish.

5. Staying in on a Saturday night

I used to get rather jittery staying in on a Saturday night, worried I was at home while everyone else was out having fun. No more. I think I’ve finally hit full-fledged Grumpy Old Man mode, and so can’t abide jostling crowds and overpriced drinks in trendy bars, or nightbuses home from dingy nightclubs. Also, I’ve loved spending some time with my Significant Other, a takeaway and some crap telly. Strictly Come Dancing, X Factor, Match of the Day, bed. I never thought this would be my idea of bliss!

6. Spicy chilli peanuts

My snack food of the year. I’ve bought a big tub of them for Christmas, and can’t see it lasting long. Plus, I can kid myself that peanuts are a healthier option.

7. Cain’s Mild

My drink of the year. A classic beer from a Liverpudlian brewery. Full of flavour, but low in alcohol, so I can drink plenty of it without falling over. Coveting a can of mild, again, suggests I am now truly an old man, in heart, mind and increasingly in body. This is not a bad thing. I think I’m actually growing into myself.

8. The New York Review of Books

On the surface, this is a periodical with a load of book reviews. But really, they are just a launchpad for articles on much wider issues, so an issue might throw up some interesting perspectives on all manner of things – the fall of the Berlin Wall, Theodore Roosevelt’s environmentalism, the new ballparks in New York, prison reform, schooling…you name it. It is refreshing to see such a wide range of issues covered, and for writers to be given the room to cover them in sufficient depth. Plus, it makes me feel a bit cleverer for reading it.

9. QI

It’s bloody brilliant, isn’t it? And like number 8 above, I feel a bit cleverer for watching it. You can never have enough trivia stuffed in your brain, as far as I’m concerned.

10. Listening to Christmas songs

I love Christmas songs. Big Rock Candy Mountain feeds my addiction with some weird and wonderful efforts, but I’m just as happy with the more mainstream fare. Phil Spector’s Christmas album is probably one of the best (not just Christmas) albums ever. Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is my number one guilty pleasure. To me, that song is perfect. It’s a shame that in just a few days I won’t be listening to these songs for another year…

So, what little things made your 2009 a good one? I’d love to hear about whatever helped make your year.

Photo from kevindooley, via Flickr