I hope you all found suitably cheery ways to launch yourselves into the new year. We hit the chilly streets of Barcelona (where even the local vegetable store was mixing cocktails and people on street corners were selling bottles of champagne) not realising that it’s customary to wear evening dress for the occasion or at the very least a bow-tie, and we therefore arrived at our destination, Ocana in Placa Reial,underdressed for once. At least we avoided Boris’s big ‘Everyone must pay extra for enjoying themselves’ approach to the festivities in London.
One of the big differences here is in the huge number of children you see in Mediterranean cities. The anklebiters and their entire families are out on the streets, not at Playstations but playing for real, and it’s always an uplifting sight. A friend of mine in a London cinema actually asked me if there were dwarves in the audience, and I had to point out to her that they were kids.
It was a year of happiness (great travels, hard work, good times) and sadness (lost friends, illnesses), two new books, a raft of projects to come including the 12th Bryant & May mystery, the thriller ‘The Sand Men’ in late summer, followed by another thriller, a comedy-drama, a new mystery and some surprises.
My ambivalent attitude to my city of birth never changes but grows ever more polarised. I love many of the improvements made in it, and hate the cash-grab our Mayor is stealthily managing while playing up his image of a Latin-spouting nitwit – not all of us are fooled, Boris. London refuses to see through its good ideas and never learns better ones from its neighbours. One of the most famous programmes London could learn from is Barcelona’s “100 projects” – a series of small-scale improvements to public spaces designed to give identity to neighbourhoods, so that people could begin to feel pride in where they lived.
The political landscape is an equally polarised mess, with no-hope one-policy parties panicking the only two leaders with a chance of election into poll-driven lunacies. I’d like to see London reconnect with the rest of the country in 2015 and embrace Europe, where so much can be learned but from where only bad (and badly written) reports emerge, to be published in the tutting panic-rags.
Well, we all have things we’d like to change about our countries and cities. The big change for me this year has been seeing so many of my friends forced out of London by soaring prices, leaving it a land of entitled trustafarians and blank-faced investors. I grew up in a time of grass-roots activism and creativity; surely the wheel will turn again. There should be no poverty in one of the richest nations in the world, and any politician not directly addressing this should be ashamed.
Time is precious – make it matter. Here’s to an amazing 2015.