75 Things That Made My Year (2020)

Every year, Austin Kleon puts together a list of 100 things that made his year and every year I read it and think ‘I should do that’.

More so than ever, 2020 felt like a year that I ought to make some effort to document the positive. Not to paper over the cracks that deserved to be taken seriously, but because it would be all too easy to look back and summarise it as thoroughly shit.

I didn’t quite make it to 100. I stopped keeping a diary between April and October and there are lots of days that passed without cause for mention, but here are 75 things that stood out to me as worthy of remembering.

  1. Making cacio e pepe for the first time (a vegan version). 
  2. Watching Paavo Järvi and the NHK Symphony Orchestra perform Rachmaninov’s symphony and Schumann’s Concerto for Cello at the Southbank Centre (for free with their under 30 scheme) and feeling cultured as fuck.
  3. Seeing Uncut Gems on 35mm at The PCC. 
  4. Brit Marling’s piece on the Strong Female Lead in The New York Times
  5. Seeing theatre: You Stupid Darkness!, Scenes with girls, Antigone, an online version of Lungs, a handful of things at The Vault Festival. 
  6. Going to an escape room for the first time. Delirious fun. 
  7. Getting to exhibitions whilst we could: Steve McQueen at Tate Modern, Among the Trees at Southbank Centre.
  8. Pottery painting with Tirion. 
  9. Making a zine and posting it to Becky.
  10. Playing with ink. Doing collages. Creating for fun. 
  11. Going for numerous walks around Finsbury Park, Woodberry Wetlands, Hampstead Heath. And then in Surrey around Norbury Park and seeing the lambs.
  12. Making banana bread. Obviously.
  13. Other food discoveries: scallion pancakes, the simple pleasures of beans on toast, blueberry clafoutis, chocolate babka
  14. Reading. Reading in the mornings for an hour before work. Devouring books in one sitting.
  15. Staying in the woods for the weekend with Alice; making pizzas from scratch, drinking hot chocolate by a fire, walking into Bath, going wild swimming, using a compost toilet.
  16. Haley Nahman’s newsletter. Particularly this one, and this one
  17. Buying myself a bike and cycling around on it: to Epping Forest, Victoria Park, London Fields Lido, to the Barbican, around Regents Park with Becky, all the way home to Surrey.
  18. Weekly zooms with my best friends. 
  19. Getting published: in Another Gaze and The Guardian.
  20. Thursday night dinners with Becky. 
  21. Sitting outside in our garden in the summer. Buying these chairs
  22. Watching squirrels whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.
  23. Getting a haircut.
  24. Lots of takeaway pizza from Yard Sale. 
  25. Watching lots of brilliant films.
  26. Watching lots of brilliant TV. 
  27. Rewatching ER. 
  28. Doing two live podcast recordings.
  29. Doing 30+ podcast interviews over Zoom. 
  30. Having regular development meetings for a film project.
  31. Baths. Hot ones in winter. Cold ones in summer.
  32. Feeling adult: getting home contents insurance, taking vitamins regularly, buying ethical loo roll, getting a Vanity Fair subscription. 
  33. New music. Dancing to Dua Lipa in my bedroom. Playing HAIM on a loop. 
  34. Finding zen by watching make-up tutorial videos on YouTube.
  35. Not wearing make-up for weeks, if not, months on end.
  36. Getting dressed up to stay indoors. 
  37. Getting a rowing machine.
  38. Being able to return to the gym & swimming pools. 
  39. Buying lilac joggers and living in them. 
  40. Moving my bedroom furniture around.
  41. Learning more about the abolitionist movement. Participating in the abolitionist futures reading group. 
  42. Simran Hans’ newsletter Treats
  43. Interviewing cool people for work. Rose Glass! Cathy Brady! Luna Carmoon! Elizabeth Karlsen! Jed Kurzel! Daniel Kaluuya
  44. Getting to produce a podcast for work.
  45. Dipping my toe into the world of video essays.
  46. Discovering Taskmaster.
  47. Going to pubs and sitting outdoors. Come rain, or shine. 
  48. Drinking tequila on the last night before the second lockdown. 
  49. Making dens in the living room to watch movies.
  50. Attending the London Film Festival online. Feeling part of something again. 
  51. Crazy golf with Becky.
  52. Going to the zoo!
  53. Attending a bajillion webinars & online events. 
  54. Writing a play and getting my friends to do a read-through. 
  55. Rediscovering old episodes of Desert Island Discs and The Adam Buxton podcast.
  56. Treating myself to the occasional food shop from Waitrose. Buying these vegan sausage rolls
  57. Doing puzzles.
  58. Getting back into journaling. 
  59. Dolly Alderton’s agony aunt column in The Sunday Times. 
  60. Caitlin Quinlan’s newsletter Details
  61. That Judith Butler interview in the New Statesman.
  62. The New York Times Spelling Bee.
  63. Writing a personal essay I’m proud of. 
  64. Catch-up walks with Caragh.
  65. Phone-calls with friends. (Feeling nostalgic for the hours spent on a landline when I was a teenager). 
  66. Playing Scrabble with my parents.
  67. Finding catharsis in cleaning. 
  68. Buying ping pong bats. Playing ping pong in the park. 
  69. AOC’s Twitter feed. 
  70. Joe & Kamala. 
  71. Panda videos on YouTube.
  72. Stanley Tucci’s Negroni cocktail video.
  73. Making a negroni.
  74. Getting to celebrate Christmas with my best friend & then my parents. 
  75. Visiting the White Cliffs of Dover on Boxing Day.

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