Wednesday, 1 January 2014


A year of change, yet a year when things remained the same. A year of adventure and of the familiar. A year that rose to topple all of those that came before it. The year of Wormwood, the year of thirteen. 13 is my new lucky number.

This has been my year in so many ways. I’m struggling to find a way to really convey this in words, but so much has happened that won’t be replicated again in any other year. I may have better years to come, of that I hope, but for now I’ve never been in a better place than this.

2012? Nah, this has been the year of sports

Twenty-twelve may have brought the Olympics to London, and I had tickets to a part of that, but for me, twenty-thirteen has been the year of sport.

It began on New Years when in a tired, slightly drunken stupor, I decided that I needed to try something new and something active. I figured that there must be a kickboxing club somewhere nearby and so googled it on New Year’s Day. Turns out there was a club once a week right around the corner. The first Sunday of the year, I joined and have not stopped since. Here we are a year, a red, yellow and orange belt later and now train two-to-three times a week and love it. I’ve got some new friends and can take a punch. I’m more flexible than ever and look forward to getting even better and healthier in the process.
Stacey joined me for the first lesson, and never came again. Poppy of all people has gotten into it though and packs a mean punch!

In terms of live sporting events, I don’t think I’ll ever have a year as good as this. It started on the last week of January when TNA brought Impact Wrestling to Wembley Arena. We were treated to a double taping in which I can say featured Hulk Hogan’s last match to date - even if he did get “beaten up” before the match and therefore didn’t actually “compete”. I’m still saying that I’ve seen a Hulk Hogan match live.
That night I even went out after I got home and joined a night of drama in progress… but that’s not my story to tell.

The biggest sporting event of the year in my opinion took place in April in New York/New Jersey this year, and I was there for it. Wrestlemania 29 set the record for the highest grossing wrestling event of all time and I was part of it with Stacey and my old friends the Passeys and Major. Positioned right next to the awesome set that had been built to replicate New York’s iconic skyline, Stacey and I were right at the heart of the action which included what in my opinion is the match of the year between CM Punk and The Undertaker, a performance from P. Diddy, The debuts of Fandango and Big E. Langston, as well as what is looking very likely to have been The Rock’s last ever match in losing the WWE title to John Cena, who set the record for most title wins that night. Even if the travel back to Manhattan was atrocious, nothing can ruin my memories of that night. And in no way did I think that Wrestlemania could be at all contended with for event of the year, but then Stacey, Adam, Passeys, Major and I got tickets for a WWE Live event in November at The O2….
Due to the fact that WWE had built a new live show stage that would have been blocking our seats, we were given a free ticket upgrade and were shown to our new seats on the arena floor. We walked right by the ring, around the ringside area and found our seats for the evening which were situated right by the entrance stage. We didn’t spend much time in our seats, much to the chagrin of The O2 staff, but Stacey got a high five off of Daniel Bryan.

I also visited Wembley Stadium and got to experience all of the travel woes that come with that five times this year (although my trip to Metlife Stadium in April gave me an appreciation of the tube service, no matter how arduous that can be). In June, Stacey and I went to see The Killers play a gig at the famous stadium, but the other four events that I saw take place under the arch were all sporting events. The first two took place in May, as on the first weekend of the month, we took what was essentially a work trip as colleague of mine and Tunbridge Wells FC manager Martin Larkin took his side to the final of the FA Vase against Spennymoor. The company treated us to comfy padded seating in the Bobby Moore suite and although the Wells suffered a 2-1 defeat, it was a tremendous effort and hard fought match that saw the stadium erupt when they scored their equaliser.
Just over four weeks later, I was back at Wembley with the men of my family as Crystal Palace made it into the play-off finals. The Eagles delivered as they always seem to in this situation and after a scoring on a penalty, Palace are up in the Premiership for at least a season.
An NFL season ticket with the Hammonds saw me return to Wembley twice more on the last weekends of September and October. The September game featured the Pittsburgh Steelers facing the “home” side for the evening, The Minnesota Vikings in what was easily the best match we’ve ever had take place at Wembley. Everything from the razmataz surrounding the pre-game entertainment, to the competitive nature of the game itself between these two ground-and-pound teams set the bar high for all future NFL games in the UK. A month later, the one-sided game between the 49ers and the Jaguars couldn’t top it, but will remain a significant night in my life, as I asked Stacey’s Dad for permission to ask her a particular question the following weekend… a story that’s already been told to death, but really made this year so special.

The Soundtrack of My Year

One of this year’s Wrestlemania themes - the one that suits my tastes the most - and the song that transports me back to New York every time that I hear it. Not only did snippets of this song play out constantly during the event in Metlife Stadium, but I was listening to this awesome tune a lot around this point in time, even setting it as our alarm to wake Stacey and I up on Friday 5th April - the day that we flew out on our holiday of a lifetime. Whenever the first few chords of this song now play, I immediately visualise the leafless trees of Central Park, tall skyscrapers and yellow cabs.

Another of this year’s ‘Mania themes, and yes it is a few years old and sure it’s not to my usual musical tastes, but I do like this song. It makes my soundtrack of the year due to the fact that P. Diddy himself was there to perform the track live at Metlife Stadium.

If Bones is the song that takes me back to New York City, then Kickstart My Heart transports me across the Atlantic Ocean and back to my time in Orlando. It was on the Rock-It Rollercoaster in Universal Studios that I discovered this old gem. The ride allows you to select your song for the duration of the coaster, and while on a couple of rides I chose other tracks such as Limp Bizkit’s rather apt Rollin’ or Evanescence’s Bring Me To Life, it was this track that really made the ride for me with the build of the guitar riff as I climbed the first big drop, to the high octane speed of the chorus that took me over loop-de-loops.

The first of three Fozzy songs that will appear on this list, She’s My Addiction is from their latest album Sin and Bones and is one of the catchiest rock tunes I’ve heard in years. This song would have made this list no matter what, however it’s place is cemented by the fact that it earned me a retweet from Chris Jericho when I twittered my joy for this musical feast for the ears.

An old favourite that I rediscovered this year. This song is actually ten years old now and was one that I used to listen to back in my early teenage years, around 2003. Earlier in the Summer of this year, I heard another song which I think was Trapt’s Headstrong, that I also used to listen to regularly a decade previously and for some reason it reminded me of Remedy.

Dexter’s run on TV finished this year and while some may have disliked the ending, fact is it was never going to please everybody, whichever way things went down. I personally enjoyed the over-the-top finish to what has been my favourite show of the last ten years and will certainly miss my annual fix of the Dark Defender… Getting back on track, this track by Fozzy is another pretty catchy rock song and I would assume is based on Dexter due to the title and Chris Jericho’s known love of the show.

Just a wicked song that always gets me pumped up and ready for a night out. For some reason Disturbed remind me of a heavy Phil Collins with this one; I can just hear Collins in my mind singing to this kind of tune…

I got back into Staind this year, re-listening to a lot of their older stuff from 14 Shades of Grey and Breaking The Cycle. While I’ve probably listened to some of these old greats, such as So Far Away, Price to Play, Outside, and It’s Been a While more, their much newer The Way I Am will hold the most significance to me in 2013 as it was the song I had playing in the background as I wrote the final words to the first draft of my first full-length novel. It was a real ‘end credits’ moment for me with the perfect song to go with it. The lyrics even fit the subject matter of the novel to an extent.

The current Smackdown theme tune which guarantees I’ve heard it at least once every week this year. Great tune that encompasses both rock and rap in the best way.

Ozzy and Co. made a triumphant return this year with their album 13. Music fans rejoiced as the album went straight to number one, proving that those with real musical taste don’t have an affect on the singles chart as we’ve gone and bought the bloody album. This first track from the album is easily the best song from the album and I was pleasantly surprised to hear it play at the end of the Seth Rogen comedy This Is The End.

Not much to say on this one. It’s a late entry to the list having just come out, but I’m really enjoying Korn’s recent revival.

This song is about four years old now, and I’ve owned the album that houses it - Chasing The Grail - the entire time. It just took me three years to actually take the time to stop and listen to this incredible track. There is a reason that I didn’t tend to listen to this one and that is that Wormwood sits at the end of the album and is just shy of fifteen minutes long. For whatever reason, I just never had the patience, nor took the time to stop and listen. So it was quite a treat back on a Saturday morning in January when I put my iPod on while still lying in bed and this came on. I can’t recommend this song enough and it has essentially become the theme tune to my 2013, which is quite fitting for the whole ‘13-end-of-the-world stuff we might have encountered a year ago as Wormwood tells the story of the apocalypse and climaxes in the tremendous array of musical noise that even Stacey, who usually hates this kind of music, admits to enjoying.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The year has been a lot of fun and a lot of good has happened. But we all had a bit of a curve-ball thrown at us in the days leading into Christmas. The weekend before we had blustery gales and heavy rain - some of which decided to leak into our flat. The poor weather continued and resulted in floods on Christmas Eve. We wound up ‘abandoning ship’ on the Night Before Christmas and had to wade through the river that is usually our road, in our wellies, carrying as much as we could in terms of Christmas presents and clothes. We had to move back in with my parents for the night which was particularly exciting on that night of nights.
And on Boxing day, with our building’s lift no longer functioning, I had to lug six sandbags up the three flights of stairs to make sure that no more water blew into our third floor flat!

Unfortunately, we know some that were affected by the floods and terrible weather much worse than we were.


Between the fun of the snow at the beginning of the year, to the floods we’ve just experienced at Christmas; from Metlife Stadium to Wembley; from Universal to Disney; from finishing the first draft of a novel to finishing the greatest story of my life to date by getting down on one knee, it’s been a hell of a year. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014 has in store and I know it’s going to end with a bang!

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