2014 – Losses & Gains

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joan_rivers DW8_Ep04_R2_landscape_011 Robin_Williams-Esquire

It’s been quite a year. We’ve lost some of the biggest and best but have also (re)discovered new and brilliant talent too.

The biggest loss this year for me was of Robin Williams. He was a man I admired so much and had the great honour of meeting. In the short time I spent in his company he was a quiet warm man who was comfortable speaking to all around him. His comedy is there for all to see, as is his more serious work – which in many ways probably showed him at his most real. The role model of John Keating in “Dead Poets Society” fed into my own teaching and many others I know. His heart was big but his mind was troubled with deep pits of pain that nothing could fill. The only saving grace – if you can even say that – of his suicide was that his body was clear of drink or drugs. His death also showed me how many people are still ignorant to the depths and pains of depression. In my own tiny way I talk about my own battles online in the hope that one person reads it and understands a little better that it’s not something you can shake yourself out of. The joy of Robin is we can all enjoy his work over and over again and share it with our kids and generations to come.

We gained a new shiny Doctor this year in Peter Capaldi and he brought a much-needed freshness to the ancient Time Lord. His wit, eyebrows and presence make him a Doctor that I don’t think we’ll ever really get to know. While this series was marred by the over-Clara-isation there was enough in it to make it “must see” TV. Fingers crossed we’re in a stronger place after a great Christmas special to see where this mysterious Doctor takes us next.

We lost Joan Rivers this year – as she would have wanted it, on the surgeon’s table. I was reminded of her great wit as I watched “An Audience with…” the other night as her acerbic humour sprayed across her audience. I had the great privilege to see the Grand Lady of Comedy in Edinburgh a few years ago and I can tell you that she was even more scathing of celebrity culture and public figures in her live show than anything you’ve seen on TV. She had a gift for timing, rhythm and language that very few comedians have – male or female. Unafraid of self parody she ripped into herself, her personal life and traumas as much as anyone else. Many found her too caustic but I thought she was the real deal and laughed so hard at the gig hI was crying with laughter. You’ll be missed Joan.

The Dons finally gained a trophy for their dust-covered cabinet with the League Cup being brought back to Pittodrie in March and the charge continues. Under Derek McInnes the team has improved and is currently only two points off the pace – a position we haven’t been in for many a year. While many are quick to jump the gun and claim a title challenge most of us are pleased that we are no longer scrabbling around down at the bottom of the league anymore. Having signed up several of the key players on longer term contracts this team should be aiming to add to that trophy in the next season or two.

A personal musical loss and gain happened this year with the retiring of the band “Referendum” and the start of my new adventure with “The Limit”. It was fitting that three-quarters of the “original” band were there at the last gig and that we had several familiar faces in the crowd too to see us off. With twenty years under our belts it was tinged with sadness to walk away from it but we all knew the time had come for us to each go our own way. With the new band bedding in nicely there are new adventures to be had out there and I look forward to seeing them with the Limit guys.

A win and a loss was also had with the Scottish Referendum this year. The 18th of December saw the Scots come out in record numbers – an 85% turnout – turned in a “No” vote 55% to 45%. The issues that were aired throughout the campaign have not gone away – and neither should they, because both sides have talked about making Scotland and the UK a more devolved set of nations which can only be a positive thing. I think that Labour’s fear about English votes for English laws is foolish and stands n the way of allowing each part of the country a say on their own matters whilst we can still join up and work together for the best of the UK as a whole. 2015 will be a huge year in politics and I await the coming months and General Election with interest – especially with Mr Salmond deciding to parachute himself into my constituency as the SNP candidate (expect a few blogs on that one in the coming months!)

Paxman left Newsnight; “The NewsRoom” and “Breaking Bad” ended; we lost Rik Mayall, Tony Benn, Bob Hoskins, Lynda Bellingham and Richard Attenborough; we gained and lost Steven Sutton as his tenacity and courage sparked an outpouring of generosity to the Teenage Cancer Trust; Ebola stuck in West Africa introducing a deadly disease to the world – with it we gained many heroes who ventured out there to work to help and save those affected by it.

On a personal level, gains aplenty in terms of babies due for both us and for my sister and her husband – a big brother or sister for Archie. We gained a new Cousin at a wedding and lost three family members at the tail end of the year. Next year will start off with a shadow, but I expect the sun to shine on us all as the wave of babies arrives.

What we gained and lost will be added to our collective carts and should give us knowledge and strength for what lies ahead in 2015.

JD

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