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  • Writer's picturePaul Burston

2022 and all that.

It wasn’t the best of years. It wasn’t the worst of years. Here are some of my highlights and lowlights of 2022 -

Reconnected with old friends including Jonny Floyd, Tim Hailand, Jo Mackie and Matthew Westwood. Thank you, all. It’s been wonderful spending time with you.

Battled with periods of anxiety and depression about the state of the world in general and events closer to home.

Hosted successful Polari events at new venues including John The Unicorn, Eagle London and the British Library, no less, where this year’s Polari Prize winners were announced.

Made return visits to Bradford Literature Festival and The Printworks in Hastings and hosted Polari Live Online for Huddersfield and Sangam festivals.

Received pitiful royalties and public lending rights payments, amounting to my lowest earnings from writing in years. The recent report about authors' earnings didn't surprise me at all. Actually, I felt a bit like the character from Life Of Brian, who he meets in jail - "Manacles! What I wouldn't give to be put in manacles! They must think the sun shines out of your arse, sonny!"

Spent quality with my young nephew and family in South Wales and my dear cousin MissElaineous in London. Sometimes biological family also qualify as logical family.

Read lots of wonderful books including many Polari Prize submissions, new novels from Susie Boyt, Lisa Jewell and John Marrs and memoirs from Travis Alabanza, Louise Beech, Edward Enninful, Michael Handrick, David Hodge, Juno Roche and Fat Tony.

Saw Camille O’Sullivan live at The Union Chapel with my dear friends Jason and Mark Ford. There was a Bowie medley. It was emotional. Thank you, both.

Launched a new podcast, We Can Be Heroes, where I invite my guests to talk about the people they admire and hopefully reveal something about themselves in the process. It seems to be working well so far!

Made a point of going to the theatre more often. Highlights included Singing In The Rain, The Normal Heart, Moulin Rouge (twice), The Human Voice, The Glass Menagerie, Cruise (twice) and Orlando.

Last year I had my first tattoo in 30 years - the words We Can Be Heroes inscribed on my inside forearm. This year I was reminded that tattoos can be addictive and had a few more.

Chaired my first panel at Harrogate crime writing festival and my second at Capital Crime - both themed around LGBTQ+ books and writers.

Had a wonderful summer in Hastings, partying on the pier and hanging out with my friend Sam Taylor who took me to Pett Level beach, where the video for Ashes to Ashes was filmed. Recalled Bowie’s anecdote about the day the video was shot and a passing chap referring to him as “some cunt in a clown suit”. A great leveller, you might say.

Interviewed Norman Scott on the publication of his memoir An Accidental Icon at Hatchard’s. What a lovely man he is - and what a pleasure it was. Afterwards, the event manager Mark complimented me on my interview skills. “I could hear you listening.”

Rediscovered my love of clubbing, largely thanks to DJ Luke Casey Brown aka LCB Soundsystem. Also enjoyed daytime Duckie and Horse Meat Disco - both at the Eagle.

Wrote the sleeve notes for the reissue of a CD I strongly associate with my time in ACT-UP. The CD is due for re-release next summer - which leads me to my next entry…

Completed edits and rewrites on my memoir We Can Be Heroes and waited with bated breath for feedback from early readers. So far it’s been beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve had glowing endorsements from Russell T Davies, Bernardine Evaristo, Jonathan Harvey, Janet Ellis, Matt Cain, Erin Kelly, Juno Roche and more. Thank you, all!

Publication date is June 1 - but you can preorder now and save 12% on the paperback.

Despite a slight wobble in Sitges in May (thanks to Jonny for contacting me then) I’ve remained sober. It’s now coming up to 2 years - or 721 days and counting.

Thanks to all the friends, family, followers, fellow authors, festival goers and children of Polari who’ve helped make this year a lot better than it might have been. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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