Then there was the insane amount of snow in Dublin, more than I've ever seen before, which warranted a Christmas Day walk:
Later on, my nephew taught me what noise a pig makes (essential knowledge for 2011 - you should all be so informed) and then tried to steal his dad's Grown Up Drink.
My niece kindly chopped me up scrap paper so that I'd have enough money to see me through to the New Year. I brought it to TK Maxx but, after much deliberation, didn't buy this very fancy golden chair.
Good times. And now I'm back in Manchester and the sugar rush is almost over, so I'm going to waste your time, and my own, by reminiscing about the Year That's Been.
2010 is probably the year I've had the least cash since, oh, 2004, the year I spent on the dole - and both of those years rank as maybe the most fun and game-changing years to date. In 2004, I mooched around, wrote lots of terrible, terrible short film scripts, lived off crisps and popcorn, moved to the UK and got the job I'd stay in for the next five years. In 2010, amongst other stuff, I did the second half of my second MA, mooched around, lived off crisps and popcorn, moved house (hell, I do that every year, but it always sounds dramatic), saw two of my best friends get hitched, celebrated my 30th birthday in Amsterdam, went on a fantastic writing retreat in Wales, bought shit-loads of books at the Hay Festival, worked two book-shop jobs, wrote most of a novel and loads of book reviews, slacked off on my short-story writing but got several excellent flash-fiction publications, and won the Bristol Prize.
Of all the major things that have happened to me in my still very short career as a writer, the Bristol Prize soars above them as the Biggest and Best - the one that's made a huge difference to the way I see myself as a writer - more than the MA, more than NaNoWriMo (which I finished for the first time this year), more than any other publication I've had to date, and some of those I've been hugely proud of. I'm immensely grateful to Joe Melia and the rest of team who run the Prize for all their support and encouragement, which extended well beyond the prize ceremony itself and continues even now. I've gotten to meet and chat with people like Tania Hershman, Sarah Salway, and the other shortlisted writers, and now I'm watching those same writers rake in more and more successes, and it feels like we've all gone through something brilliant together. Is that soppy? Sorry; I haven't had much chocolate yet today. I'll snap out of it.
I've already posted about the excellent books I've read this year, and I've got a long list to see me through into 2011. I like to end or start the year on a biggie, and I'm partway through Anna Karenina now - after that, I'm thinking maybe some Patrick Ness, Hilary Mantel, William Boyd, Nicola Barker... I'm getting over-excited.
Writing-wise, I've got to finish the novel as soon as possible, for my own sanity, and to that end it's perhaps convenient that Real Life is going to take over in a massive way by late springtime, giving me a huge deadline to work towards. If you've seen me in recent weeks you might have guessed that I don't normally waddle so much: we'll be rearranging the teetering stacks of books in the flat to make room for a whole new tiny person in late April. So as fantastic as 2010 has been (bike thefts aside!), I think 2011 will blow it out of the water.