So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun. We’ll look to the future previously.

2017 has been an interesting year. It started with a trio of departures that by the end of it left me on the brink of a Mid Life Crisis (TM).

Sitting in Aviation House, then home of GDS, on January 12 I received a notification from the Guardian app that Graham Taylor had passed away. If you’re not a kid who grew up in the tedious commuter town of Watford in the 1970s and 80s (or possibly the 90s), it’s kind of impossible to explain what impact Graham had on our lives. His passing knocked me for six.

A few days later I found out that a chap who I had got to know over the past four years or so, Tim, had also died. I’d met him a fair few times, an intelligent, kind, gentle chap always looking for ways to help others. A friendship that began on the Internet and which closed through messages between others that knew him on Facebook.

And a few days later still I found out about the death of Victoria, a girlfriend for a year and a bit during my time at university, one of those relationships with the intensity that only those just away from home in their early twenties could experience. I’d found out that one of my son’s school friend’s dad had been at school in Leicestershire with Victoria. An idle search on the internet to see what she was now up to uncovered her death notice from some six years ago.

I guess that I’m getting to an age where deaths will start to become a more regular occurrence, and not just of those that maybe I regard as “old” (an ever-shifting definition). Finding out about such deaths on the Internet is a stark and uncushioned experience. That people’s lives can live on somehow through the footprints that we leave on the Web, on social… well it can give some solace. It can also become very odd (especially when social networks recommend you connect with someone that you know is dead).

So a heavy start to 2017, then. It got brighter.

Work has continued to evolve in a direction that feels right. Starting the year primarily working with one client at a time, I’m now where I wanted to be when launching out on my own; I have a roster of clients with whom I’m currently working, a pipeline of work into the future, and lots of things to think about and inter-relate. It’s a tightrope at times, and exercise in plate-spinning at others. I’m having more fun professionally than at any time I can remember.

We rebuilt our house. When I say “We”, I mean that Giani and his wonderful team rebuilt the house, Mrs B made most of the important decisions, and I tried to be as helpful as I could. The house rebuilding put the book project onto the back burner a bit. When I say “a bit” I mean “completely”. Top of my agenda for 2018 is to get that up and running again.

WB40, an experiment driven by curiosity and a nostalgia for creating radio programmes again after my time at university, has gone from strength to strength. It’s great fun. We have an excuse to talk to interesting people. And next year we might even have a sponsor.

The least said about football as we come to the end of the year the better. It’s always the hope that gets you.

I’ve met some wonderful people. I have worked with some remarkable people. I’ve had some cracking days of work. I’ve still had some time to see my kids continue on their path into whatever it is they will be.

For the year ahead, putting aside the general political climate of “WTF?”, I hope it will be a year which develops further in the same direction. I don’t think I’ll ever escape from the feeling that at any point it could all fall apart, that work could dry up. But conversely, I’m more and more confident that it probably won’t, and that’s just the lot of being a small business.

It’s been a blast. If I’ve spent some time with you in 2017, thanks for being a part of a generally cracking year. If not, then there’s always 2018.

Merry Christmas, and all the best for the year ahead!

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