The year didn’t quite go to plan and I’m not where I thought I’d be – a mix of reasons, but mostly history dragging its heels. For many of us, triggered by the political and social landscape changes, the 24-hour rolling news, and all this “post-truth” stuff, it’s easy to get mired down in negativity. However there is a need for positive thinking, so I wrote down a big pile of awesome things which happened to me in 2016.

While in a café in Leeds on Christmas Eve having a cuppa with my kids, I thought of the following:

  • Met my soulmate
  • Swam in the sea, in a bikini
  • Spoke at a European Commission meeting in Brussels
  • Learned to play guitar properly
  • First international travel on my new passport
  • Dated for the first time in 20 years
  • Took the whole family to a festival
  • Recorded and released an album
  • Went camping as a family
  • Visited Sweden for the Eurovision Song Contest
  • Taught myself to shoot and edit video
  • Learned what “squad goals” means
  • Performed on-stage with my daughter
  • Went up 2 cup sizes
  • Danced with one of my two favourite bands
  • Got blocked by the President-elect of the US
  • Wrote, arranged, scored and conducted a piece for orchestra
  • Was sent a holiday postcard by my other favourite band
  • Guest-blogged for a sex toy company
  • Got told off by translators because of my Yorkshireisms
  • Walked in my underwear through a field of lesbians
  • Met a load of fun new friends
  • Snogged my girl in front of protesting Christian fundamentalists
  • Rid myself of a lot of toxic people
  • Weight down below 80kg for the first time in 3 years


…which I don’t think is a bad haul! They’re listed in no particular order, by the way.

What was I most proud of? Well, obviously the album as it spanned 11 months of the year. There have been so, so many kind words about it from friends, relatives, acquaintances I know and people I don’t. I was randomly approached and asked if I’m Jess of The Bleeding Obvious, and at the launch I performed with many talented friends on-stage. I’m hoping for more of that.

Singers at the Bleeding Obvious album launch, from L-R: Jacqui Wicks, Colleen Taylor, Irene Purcell, Ralph Dartford, Anthony Jackson-Stubbs, Jessica Rowbottom, Betsie Baker, Scott Wainwright, Ellie Rowbottom and Ruby Macintosh. Photo: Cathie Heart

I’m also hoping for more family time with us all together – some of my fondest memories of the year are of camping at L-Fest Lesbian Festival last July (the header photo on this post is from the sign outside our tent), and of course having all the kids in one place on Christmas Day was wonderful too.

So where do I go from here?

Well I’m heading into 2017 with a firm resolution to be optimistic, which is why the second release as The Bleeding Obvious is going to be titled “Positive”. There’ll be more about that later in the year (hah, just you try and avoid it) but in the meantime I’ve been working with Ralph Dartford of A Firm Of Poets, illustrating some of his words with music (you can already listen to Olé and Bob over on Soundcloud). There’ll be some festival appearances I’m sure.

Finally, my partner Helen proposed to me on Christmas Day… I’ll leave it as a cliffhanger as to what my reply was…