Yearly Review – 2018

“Where will you live? Will you live in Goonellabah?”, a relative asked me on the phone the other night, when I told her about my retirement plans, which involve returning to my hometown, Lismore. “Oh no, not Goonellabah, but most definitely somehwere on the hill, probably East Lismore”, I told her. Having grown up on the flood plain of South Lismore, and having seen my family live through the anguish of last year’s big flood, the fairly vague plan for retirement in Lismore is clear on one matter: it will be somewhere on the hill. Not that retirement is imminent, as it’s still seven years before my defined-benefit superannuation pension kicks in. But it’s something I’ve been thinking about this year, as there’s been a bit up upheaval at my workplace lately.

As you’ll have read or seen, the ABC has gone through some ups and downs recently. In the last few years, lots of my peers have either left voluntarily or through redundancy. I’m hoping when the time comes for me to leave, it will be at a time of my own choosing. A few weeks ago, I celebrated twenty-nine years at the ABC, which is quite remarkable in modern terms. In that time, I’ve had three distinct careers, both on and off the radio. In my current job, I’m probably the happiest I’ve ever been, as it has a really good balance between fact-based decision making, and the more instinctive decision-making based on the so-called “x-factor” of creativity. This year, I also celebrated forty-years since I first started in radio.

But yes, I’m conscious that I’m not getting any younger, and often find myself in a room at work full of much younger people. I don’t get the impression they think of me as “that old bloke” yet, though perhaps I’m fooling myself?

Mindil Beach Sunset
I spent a few weeks in Darwin this year, which was awesome.

I’m also conscious that friends and family are getting older too. And with ageing comes health problems. A health problem of my own from a couple of years ago has re-emerged, and I’ve recently noticed a few skin cancers that I’ll need to get treated. This year one of my nearest and dearest friends had a major health scare. Thankfully, the breast cancer was identified early, and she has had some awesome medical support. She opted for a complete mastectomy – “cut that shit out”, she said – and is about to go in for her third round of reconstructive surgery.

In many ways, it was the year of friendship, as the most memorable moments of 2018 for me were the times spent with friends. Eating together, chatting, doing stuff.

One of the most enjoyable weekends this year, was spent with Kate, attending Dance Rights at Sydney Opera House.

Aside from that, there’s no great “headline” for my for 2018 – Year In Review: no major travel, no major career change, and no major romance. Even so, “the year of friendship” is a pretty good headline.

Champagne James
Champagne James, on a harbour cruise in Darwin this year.
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