Thursday, 29 December 2011


Before I start the main 121212 challenge on Sunday 1st January, I thought it might be worth explaining a bit about the other challenges I am doing, and why.

1. Have breakfast 90% of the year
My friend Andrew once said that when most people are waking up, they're thinking about breakfast but I'm thinking of how to play at some theatre somewhere with an orchestra. I forget about breakfast, which is a foundation that will get me to the theatre. It was also something that was dear to the one I lost. So I thought let's have breakfast every day! Then I thought. Wait - what if you miss one day, you'll give up. So I have set a 90% success rate for this. Please note - I have to eat breakfast 90% of the days of the year (329 days), not 90% of my waking life!

2. Stop smoking tobacco
This is a common new year's resolution, but I actually did stop last year when I met someone and fell in love. Just being around her stopped me smoking. Then, towards the end of last year, I started again. I lost faith. This won't happen again. I'm stopping for good.

3. Meet 5 friends I've not seen for over 1 year
I realise I am lucky to have a lot of friends. But many of them never get to see me any more. I want to change this. Every year, for the rest of my life, I will make it a challenge to see 5 friends I've not seen in over a year. To be honest, I could just pick the same 5 and do an annual meeting. But that feels like cheating...

4. Learn German fluently
This was something I regret not taking seriously before. I was lazy, complacent. And it's one of the few regrets I have. That I couldn't say goodbye to the girl I lost in her native tongue. So, in tribute to her memory, I will be learning German fluently. Plus, I have some shows I have been offered in German, and I think it might be prudent to speak the language.

5. Exercise 3 times a week
Again, a common resolution. I haven't specified what exercise. That's what I like about this challenge. But for me, it must be that it made me out of breath and tired. So, that opens up a whol host of possibilities....

6. Perform on Jools Holland
I'm not sure what I put this as a challenge, but it's probably the most common question people ask me after shows or in e-mails - "when are you performing on Jools Holland then?". So, I thought, let's add it as a challenge and then maybe I'll do something about it. Also, maybe I thought it might get me the pity vote with Jools....

7. Do archery
I love archery. I think I adored this more than anything as a kid. Well, maybe next to dinosaurs. But I thought archery was a more realistic challenge than time travel or fossil excavation. So, I want to do archery. Should be a simple challenge to complete. But, I am thinking of expanding this challenge. How about...I make it so I have to hit a bullseye!?! I don't know how easy/hard this is, so until I try it once, I'm not committing to something that might be unrealistic. Oh, the irony.

8. Finish the new album
I have been working on the new album with Erik Nyberg from The Flaming Moes and we're close to completion. Having this as a challenge just helps push me on, especially in the early months when all I want to do is stay in bed and weep.

9. Tour with full band (12 musicians minimum) for at least 1 week
Not sure why I went with this. But I thought. Hey, I'd like to do a tour. And it's not easy with a band the size of a football team. So thought I had to put some kind of time limit on it. A week long tour maybe seem simple to most bands, but when each gig on this tour has to be at least 12 musicians, then it's not as simple as it seems. We'll see.

10. Stop biting my nails
I bite my nails. Have done since I was a child. Someone wanted me to stop. I'll honour her memory and stop biting. It's actually good for me to stop.

11. Perform on the London Eye
I started to imagine what it would be like to be at the top of the London Eye, playing music with people I love, and watching the sun set. I have since met a friend who seems to really like this idea and I think she'll be able to help. Again, as with all this challenge, we would have 12 musicians and 12 spectators on a 24 seat pod. I aim to do this before May 2012.

12. (Secret challenge to be revealed later)
Well, it's not that I'm being deliberately secretive, but I just don't want to talk about this challenge yet. Some of the 12 things set out here were things I decided before I lost someone very dear to me. I know she'll be looking on and would be happy and thankful I'm still doing some of these challenges, but it doesn't make it any easier. I will reveal this towards the end of 2012, when things hurt a little less. But needless to say, these things all drive me on to become a better person and to live a fuller life.

I think I'm a little bit like Hercules.....