It’s that weird time between Christmas and New Year when nobody really knows what to do with themselves. Even newspapers and the telly have given up, and are banging out review of the year shows and supplements in the knowledge that nobody can really be arsed doing anything or even thinking about anything.
I, of course, wouldn’t be so predictable so here, er, is my look back at 2006.
Given that ‘In Search of Elvis’ is about to appear in the shops in the next few weeks, it’s perhaps appropriate that I began and ended the year in a most Elvis-like fashion – I started it off my face on prescription drugs, for one thing. In 2005 I’d been prescribed blood pressure tablets which were, it turned out, about four times stronger than they needed to be by my previous doctor. My current doctor wouldn’t admit that of course, but the way his eyes shot out of their sockets when he saw the dosage suggested that there was a very good reason for me being completely away with the fairies. Weird thing is, nobody noticed the difference.
Having been on the Elvis trail in the US for the whole of January, there was a good chance I’d been Elvissed, but no, thankfully, I’d gone doolally for entirely medical reasons. I’m all right now though. Twitch. Nurdle. Yip.
Most of the first part of the year was taken up by the Elvis book, the actual writing of which was much harder than I’d expected. Long nights, Red Bull, red wine and salt and vinegar hula hoops saw me through however, and hopefully the finished product is at least vaguely readable. Look out for the hula hoop crumbs and red wine rings between and on the pages.
The rest of the year has been spent doing, well, I’m not really sure what. I’ve been dead busy, but, two weeks of filming in the US aside, I can’t actually work out why I’ve been so busy. Trying to come up with a new book idea has been a challenge. Well, actually, coming up with the ideas that involve me going off to nice places to have fun is no problem at all, but alas the publishing industry prefers them to be ideas that might actually sell a couple of books. Picky, eh? Harrumph.
Anyway, as everyone else is compiling lists, I thought I’d follow suit. So here are my personal top moments of 2006.
1 Fronting an eighteen piece bluegrass band at the Cottonwood Falls bluegrass festival in Kansas in September. As someone more used to playing in smoky pubs, sweaty subterranean caverns and my own front room, to be out under the stars on a balmy evening with the courthouse all lit up away to the right playing away on old timey songs and Hank Williams numbers in front of a substantial crowd was an absolute blast.
2 Seeing Barry Manilow in concert at the Hilton, Las Vegas. What a corker of a show. A full, riproaring account will appear in In Search opf Elvis, but suffice to say it was a belter of an evening. What a performer.
3. Becoming, somehow, an award-winning broadcaster thanks to my Holiday programme Scotland film winning the prestigious Silver Thistle international broadcasting award. I should point out that it was absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with the genius of master director Amanda Lyon.
4. Dining at the Diana restaurant in Nazareth with my friend Einat. The best Arabic food you’ll ever taste, I’ve honestly never had a better meal in my entire life.
5. Seeing the Blind Boys of Alabama at the Jazz Cafe in London. One of the best gigs I’ve ever seen – if you don’t own any of their Grammy-winning albums then shame on you…
6. Discovering the ukulele. What an instrument! I picked one up in Honolulu and have barely put it down since. In fact my dodgy ukulele playing will appear on the In Search of Elvis audiobook, so brace yourselves. To think I’ve been carting guitars around all this time – the uke is much more portable and it’s got, in the words of Geoffrey Boycott, character.
So there, if you’ll excuse this blatant self-indulgence, is 2006 in a Connelly-shaped nutshell, a nutshell that is therefore rounder and larger than most. I started it in an Elvis fashion and am ending it the same way – full of unhealthy food and with a big bouffant hairdo (I’ve not had time to get a haircut).
Right, have a marvellous hogmanay one and all, be good, play nicely.