The 2004 meme

1. What did you do in 2003 that you’d never done before?
Visited Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I made a set of six-monthly resolutions in January, and have by now kept most of them – apart from the one about doing another set of six-monthly resolutions on July 1st! The one I didn’t keep was to do NaNoWriYe, and I realise now that with my current set of obligations there’s no way I’ll be writing vast amounts of fiction soon (though less vast amounts remain a possibility).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two work colleagues. A diplomat friend. , though I hadn’t renewed contact with her yet at the time.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Danijela Dabic, a former colleague from Bosnia, of brain cancer. Boris Trajkovski, a friend from Macedonia, in a plane crash.

5. What countries did you visit?

20 in all: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia mentioned above; I live in Belgium; long holiday in Northern Ireland in August (and other UK trips); odd visits (ie incluing at least one night) to Ireland, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, Switzerland, Hungary, Serbia/Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova and Georgia. Also drove through Luxembourg four times and changed planes in the Czech Republic and Austria without staying overnight.

6. What would you like to have in 2004 that you lacked in 2003?

More time with my family. (Same as last year.)

7. What date from 2003 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March was not a good month. Apart from bad news on the 12th, which fortunately now turns out to have been unsubstantiated, the Kosovo riots which started on 17 March set my work agenda for much of the following months.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I was particularly pleased to give evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. Also finally finishing the pan-Albanianism report, and then months later seeing it used as evidence in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Didn’t really manage the big reorganisation of the Northern Ireland elections website I had been hoping for.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A long-lasting flu-type bug in March.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The DVD player.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My wife’s, as ever. Many of my colleagues. 74% of the voters of Macedonia.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Kosovo politicians. Serbian politicians. The antiwar.com crowd. 60,608,582 American voters. The au pair who we had to sack.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Books. Travel. (Less on wine, this year.)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The US elections (unjustifiably).

16. What songs will always remind you of 2004?

Hmm, none really.

17. Compared to this time last year,
i. are you happier or sadder?

No big change.
ii. thinner or fatter?
No big change.
iii. richer or poorer?
A bit richer, now that we no longer have an au pair.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Book reviews for Infinity Plus. Creative writing. Seeing films with my wife.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Procrastinating.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
We’ll stay in Belgium. I shall cook boar for the family.

22. Did you fall in love in 2003?
No.

23. How many one night stands?
None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
University Challenge and Mastermind.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No.

26. What was the best book you read?
Best books: Felaheen, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood; Kushiel’s Avatar, by Jacqueline Carey; Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold; Ilium, by Dan Simmons; Singularity Sky, by Locus Awards collection; Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Seddon; Persepolis, by Marianne Satrapi; Maus and In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelmann; J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, by Tom Shippey; Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin; and Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Much enjoying the set of 8 Sibelius CDs I got last time I was changing planes in Vienna.

28. What did you want and get?
DVD player. A swim in the sea (twice, Ireland in August and Portugal in October).

29. What did you want and not get?
Explained here.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
ROTK
, though with honourable mentions for Before Sunset and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Age 37; had a meal with work colleagues (in the course of which two of them fell in love, and have since moved in with each other).

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Swimming in the sea. Missed a chance in Ireland in the summer and again in Montenegro in September.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2003?
As usual – smart at work, sloppy at home.

34. What kept you sane?
Reading, cooking, my wife.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Dig those Bush twins! (joke)

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The EU’s stupid visa regime policy.

37. Who did you miss?
As usual, my father (who died in 1990).

38. Who was the best new person you met?
More of a year of consolidating and renewing old acquaintances and friendships.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2003
No matter how well you plan, in political life events can always overtake you.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
This is very difficult. I think I need to be buying more music.

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