Books of 2018

Each year I set myself a goal of reading 12 or so books, and then at the end of the year I try to come here and review them. It’s a silly idea, because I can barely remember what I thought at the time when it comes to doing the review.

So this year I’ve made a change. Instead of just a number of books, I’ve picked fourteen actual books and as I finish them I’m going to come here and update this post. My aim is 12, but I chose 14 because I’m bound to want to abandon at least one if not two.

This does mean, of course, that you’ll all see me start off with good ambitions and slowly stall before, in about November, realising I’m well behind and going on a reading spree.

Books marked with a 🎧 are audiobooks.

Completed

  • Shop Girl – Mary Portas 🎧
    I found myself disappointed that I’d come to the end of this, which is a rarity because even with books I’ve enjoyed reading by the final few chapters it’s starting to feel a bit predictable. Onto the next challenge and all that. This book, however, concluding as it does while Mary is still progressing through the early stages of her career and continuing to recover from the loss of her Mother and Father, was a disappointment to reach the end of. Autobiographies are always a win with me, and given I’ve been enjoying Mary’s work on the telly for many years I’m not surprised that I enjoyed it – particularly as she read it herself. My surprise with the fact that stores used to have prop departments and employ oh-so-many people to dress windows was only replaced with sadness when I got thinking about how much we lose with our mass-produced world. I’m hoping there’s a second book on the way.
    📅 9 February 2018 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Too Much Information… or Can Everyone Just Shut Up for a Moment, Some of Us Are Trying to Think – Dave Gorman
    I found Dave Gorman last year in about November (I was aware of him, but I’d never really paid attention), and the next few weeks were filled with just a little bit too much Dave Gorman. This book filled a gap that’ll keep me going until his show in November. A top read if you like stats, facts, logic and being taken on a journey which feels coincidental but which is entirely intentional.
    📅 3 April 2018 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • And Furthermore – Judi Dench 🎧
    Fairly entertaining, but not exactly revealing the woman behind the actor, this book is basically a look back into how things “used to be”. A nicer time, perhaps? Certainly a lot more density of talent and a much more considered theatre. Who can’t love Dame Judi, anyway?
    📅 26 February 2018 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve also read some extras which I hadn’t planned…

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises – Fredrik Backman 🎧
A nice bit of escapism, mixing an easy-to-guess story with harder-to-guess twists in a way which pleases me – just because I’m really impressed when things pan out to have been planned all along. Which, of course, they were – because it was bloody planned, pitched, commissioned and written. Still, one to keep you company on a long car ride.
📅 28 March 2018 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

WTF: What have we done? Why did it happen? How do we take back control? – Robert Peston
WTF. Quite.
📅 14 March 2018 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In progress

Still to come

Abandoned

You’ll never guess what Monarch’s planes are doing now

… Broadly speaking, they’re flying about.

This blog post is mainly appearing here because I found myself wondering about the fate of Monarch’s 35-strong fleet of planes after it fell into administration last October.

I’d seen the “Monarch Cook” partially reliveried planes popping up on Instagram, but I was wondering… where did all the others go?

It’s the kind of thing I expected to see on the Internet – but despite much searching, I couldn’t find a compiled list. So, I made one.

Hello if you’ve landed here looking for just such a list. I like you. Stick around.

But on to why we’re here…

I’m very pleased to say that the vast majority of the fleet (according to Planespotters.net’s records) are up and about again, doing what they do best this summer.

Monarch RegFate
G-ZBAPScrapped
G-OZBOScrapped
G-ZBASEasyJet Europe
G-ZBABFrontier Airlines
G-ZBAVNordwind Airlines
G-OZBYAzul Linhas Aéreas
G-ZBAHSmartLynx Estonia
G-OZBWAvion Express
G-OZBXEllinair
G-ZBARThomas Cook Balearics
G-BZATIberia
G-ZBAUIberia
G-OZBLSmall Planet Airlines
G-MARAOlympus Airlines
G-OJEGOlympus Airlines
G-OZBMRed Wings Airlines
G-OZBNJust Us Air
G-OZBZSmall Planet Airlines
G-OZBERed Wings Airlines
G-OZBFRed Wings Airlines
G-OZBRLanmei Airlines
G-OZBG(Ural Airlines)
G-OZBHUral Airlines
G-OZBIAvion Express
G-ZBAIAegean Airlines
G-ZBAJAegean Airlines
G-ZBAFVLM
G-ZBAGRed Wings
G-ZPAKNordwind Airlines
G-ZBALLanmei Airlines
G-OZBTAegean Airlines
G-OZBUNordwind Airlines
G-ZBADThomas Cook UK
G-ZBAEThomas Cook UK
G-ZBAMThomas Cook UK
G-ZBADThomas Cook UK

❌ Say no more

Part of my plan for 2017 was to say no to more short term things in favour of a long term approach. I don’t think I embraced this, and my scrawl on top of this objective on my plan – my way of marking what I thought I’d done well and what I hadn’t – says ‘not really’.

This kind of objective is always going to be a tough one to judge, and it would be very easy for this post to be my defence as to why I wasn’t more successful.

I could say many things: the last 12 months has been so busy and that has made it incredibly difficult to lift my nose up and look much more than a few weeks into the future, the kind of job I do – which means day-to-day plans are often aspirational rather than actually something which will happen – provides me with a short term culture that I constantly must challenge, and perhaps most importantly: I lost sight of my long term goal.

And that last one is important because it’s where my failure could really become a success (although I’m not changing the emoji, nor the scrawl). What is the purpose of a goal to be more long term by the end of the year than the trigger to develop a long term goal I didn’t realise I didn’t have.

Last night I flippantly asked Tim if he was looking forward to being 40, intending merely to make fun of the fact that we are in the dying days of the 4 months each year where he is a year older than me, and he pointed out that it is only about 11 years away from being true. And that kicked my thoughts back here.

What is my long term goal? What and who do I want to be? What do I want to achieve by the time I am 40 and how do I reconcile the need for not an aversion to short term in favour of long, but a need to build a mental framework for short term decisions which keeps me on the glide path?

That is my problem to solve for this year.

How did I do on my other goals?

This post was part of a series of posts organising my thoughts about how I did last year. You can also find out how else I did with my goals of 2017 in my other posts on the topic here, and sign up below to get an email whenever I post something new.

And finally, check out my aunty’s post from on her blog A Year Of Saying YES , where she reveals the tool I used to plan my 2017 (and my 2018).

👌🏼 The simple ‘yes/no’ ones

Every plan for the year, even a themed one, has some simple ‘yes/no’, did or didn’t goals and even I can’t waffle on about each of them for more than about 100 words – so here’s the run down of the remaining goals.

It was a heap of success on the saving for buying a house front, with a goal achieved plus a little bit extra – and a reminder that interest can sometimes mean you get money rather than owe a bit more.

At number two though, a bit of faliure: I didn’t manage to drag myself and Tim ‘out’ at least once a month; I’m pretty certain we managed it 12 times in total throughout the year, but that doesn’t count because of how I worded the goal.

On spending less in Starbucks (an admirable aim) I did a good job to start with and then fell back into bad habits. Coupled with the need to lose a few KGs before the wedding in November this will have a re-entry in 2018’s goals. Working in a building with its own store makes this a big hurdle.

And finally, I pledged that I’d Walk the Line once more in November and raise more than £100 while doing it. I did indeed do the walk, but I didn’t raise any money for it. I’m blaming the lack of an online donation facility…

A well done, better luck next year all round I think.

art of my plan for 2017 was to say no to more short term things in favour of a long term approach. I don’t think I embraced this, and my scrawl on top of this objective on my plan says ‘not really’.

This kind of objective is always going to be a tough one to judge, and it would be very easy for this post to be my defence as to why I wasn’t more successful. I could say many things: the busy nature of the last 12 months has made it incredibly difficult to lift my nose up and look much more than a few weeks into the future, the kind of job I do – which means plans are often aspirational rather than actually something which will happen – provides me with a short term culture that I constantly must challenge, and perhaps most importantly I didn’t know what my long term goal was.

And that last one is important because it’s where my failure could really become a success (although I’m not changing the emoji, nor the scrawl). What is the purpose of a goal to be more long term by the end of the year than the trigger to develop a long term goal, to think about it.

Last night I flippantly asked Tim if he was looking forward to being 40, intending merely to make fun of the fact that we are in the dying days of the 4 months each year where he is a year older than me, and he pointed out that it is only about 11 years away from being true. And that kicked my thoughts back here.

What is my long term goal? What and who do I want to be? What do I want to achieve by the time I am 40 and how do I reconcile the need for not an aversion to short term in favour of long, but a need to build a mental framework for short term decisions which keeps me on the glide path?

That is my problem to solve for this year.

How did I do on my other goals?

This post was part of a series of posts organising my thoughts about how I did last year. You can also find out how else I did with my goals of 2017 in my other posts on the topic here, and sign up below to get an email whenever I post something new.

And finally, check out my aunty’s post from on her blog A Year Of Saying YES , where she reveals the tool I used to plan my 2017 (and my 2018).

I’m still OK with charging graduates more

In 2015, I said that I am pretty fast at coming to an opinion over things and usually equally quick at changing my mind, but on tuition fees it seems I am pretty committed to my view.

I won’t pretend that each month, when I look at my payslip I’m not slightly annoyed at seeing money disappearing off to pay back my student loan. I am.

But I’m also still not sure there’s anything wrong with a system which means that I got an expensive education and only have to pay for it now that it’s making me a profit. I am the first person in my family to go to unveristy, I’m not from a well-off background and I had to work to pay my rent while I was at University despite getting the full maintenance grant at the time.

Student loans don’t appear on your credit record, don’t really affect your ability to get other loans because of their size, have fixed repayments regardless of the interest rate and only due when you’re earning above a certain amount plus they get written off when you turn 60 whether you’ve paid a penny or not.

But what I said in my post back in 2015 should be the solution is still what I think should be the solution now. And what Damian Hinds said today is almost there.

We still need to remember why we educate people

Having a good education system is important for two reasons (and probably many more). Firstly, having a better educated population means we’re a better educated country which can achieve more, and secondly because higher education allows graduates (like me) to do jobs that pay more and ‘climb the ladder’. So, because both the individual and society benefits both should also pay.

But what the current system ignores (although it’s unclear if it was ever meant to) was that all degrees are not equal in what they contribute to society. My own degree (English Language and Media) is worth less to society than, say, a scientist or a doctor and worth more to me, because it’s allowing me to do a job I love.

So, with a ‘variety’ of fees – as Damian Hinds MP said today might happen following the third review of fees in 12 months – was what I proposed when I wrote about this in 2015, because with a bit of price variation we could encourage a greater number of people to become educated in subjects where we’re short of experts.

We could even go as far as making it free to do certain higher qualifications if we’re running short of a particular profession.

f you want to complete a degree in a subject we don’t ‘need’ you to study then you’re welcome to do just that, but that’ll be £55,000 in ‘debt’. On the other hand, if you fancy becoming a doctor then how about society pays for it all – perhaps with some conditions that you stick about in the UK.

There’s no need for any of this ‘money’ to change hands until a graduate is earning too, just as now. So there’s no poor people locked out of higher education but a substantial return, and ultimatley more people graduating in useful subjects.

On this, like so many other things, we constantly kick the can down the road. As a result, we’ve ended up with a complicated system which clouds our ability to make rational and logical decisions about what’s good for us as a whole.

Oh well.