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2012 is almost upon us!

And I’m going to do something I’ve never done before, but my friend Adrian gave me the idea. Every year, in the last week of December, I think back to the year that was and think about the coolest things that happened in it, that made me happy, or left an impact on me. I try and focus on the positives, the things that memories are made of, even if they seemed pretty dodgy at the time like getting stranded in Germany and trying to find a hotel room at 1am!

And I write a summary in the back of my diary. I’ve done this for at least a decade. My year’s been a funny one ( funny-ha-ha and funny-not-so-ha-ha just to be clear) and I honestly didn’t think there’d be much to smile about in those pages. There have been a handful of bereavements. Two of which knocked me for six. A novel not neatly sewn up. A bond gone awry that broke my heart. Extensive skintness.

Still, how bloody wrong was I? SIX pages of good stuff spilled forth when I stopped to truly think about it! That was a surprise and I realised I am so very lucky; luckier than I thought and I needed to give myself a gentle kick in the hiney in remembering this. I’m a loved, blessed woman and everything even the stuff that challenges you, you can remember something good about it if you choose to – and then pay tribute to it.

Adrian suggested blogging it. Thanks for the idea dude. I give you edited highlights of Yasmin Selena Butt’s year and hand on heart I wish you all an awesome with bells on one in 2012 and thank you for reading and supporting my blog.

Love Yasmin x x x

The Creative Stuff

Meeting top writers Monica Ali, Sophie Kinsella, Stella Duffy, Rebecca Chance for the first time at a library event in Brixton. That was cool. I’d gone to see and catch up with my lovely Lisa Jewell, but the whole evening was really great and me and Lisa finally got a photo together where I didn’t look like a lunatic.

Me and Lisa Jewell

Participating in World Book Night 2011. Being a giver of 50 copies of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin to random strangers, friends and community members. Going to the amazingly freezing cold launch night in Trafalgar Square and sharing the experience with my friend Akeela Bhattay. Seeing living literary legends such as John Le Carre, Alan Bennett, Philip Pullman read passages from books. Seeing personal living legend Nick Cave read from Lolita. Hearing David Nicholls read my favourite passage from One Day. It was brilliant! I was so excited to be a part of it all. Get involved in 2012 they are looking for givers and have extended the deadline.

Here you go: http://www.worldbooknight.org/

Asking for help. Mr Chris Pink answered a call for editorial help on Gumtree back in spring of this year. I needed an editor for Gunshot Glitter but after two odd years of not earning my pockets were pretty empty. Chris Pink wrote me a very positive, honest message telling me he couldn’t edit my novel but would be happy to feedback on it and that he would like some support with his début too. What began as a very professional relationship, for a while, changed into something way unique and cooler. And some of his feedback was brilliant. And his blogs were hilarious especially the one about man-tramps and how he’d almost come a-croppa in the trouser area on a plane.  I left a comment about babies on his blog he loved so much he re-posted it as a blog. And he digs nature, books and film as much as I do. I sincerely hope he keeps writing. I supported him with his début novel –  The Number Three Mystery Book. It was my favourite read of the year actually, though I wish he’d left the line about the pink, plastic penis intact, that was really very funny and pretty perfect. I do believe I put my Kindle down and laughed out loud, for real.

The Writer’s Circle/Rose McClelland. Rosie is aces. She lives in Northern Ireland and she’s a fantastic writer and one day you will see her books in all good bookshops or staring up at you from your e-reader. Rosie writes in a really exact way I envy. I couldn’t do it to save my life! She set up a Facebook group called The Writer’s Circle, which I joined, along with fellow scribe and wonderful lady Janet Bridgen and it’s been a nice, safe, little corner to blow off steam, share stuff, publish work and support each other. I’m really glad she did it. I invited Chris Pink and my friend Mel Melis to join and we’ve all benefited. And over the summer she delighted me by sending me a pink, tinkly light fitting that has found a home in the most hallowed of rooms in my flat, the bathroom. She’s a generous, intelligent, creative soul and has recently discovered she’s a Goddess in the kitchen.

**Update**: Rose McClelland has signed an e-publishing deal with Crooked Cat Publishing! Find out more here about The Break-Up Test

Out on April 6th 2012 on Amazon Kindle, iPad and a reader near you!

Going to the London Book Fair for the first time. I was as sick as a parrot, I had to drag myself out of bed by sheer brute force because I’d parted with £25 or whatever it was for a ticket, but it was like a crash course in the publishing industry. I learned so much and heard words like XML for the first time and discovered more about self-publishing. The Canongate girls and Bookbaby people were especially lovely and I attended all the days and came home laden with paper and scary new knowledge and a badge that read ‘Yasmin Butt, Author: Gunshot Glitter’ which felt very, very good.

The Yeading Library Let’s Write Monday class – I am never on time. I often arrive with damp, newly washed hair and I am often writing within seconds of my bum hitting the seat. But I love attending the sessions when I can. Thank you Jaspreet Bamra for bringing a stroke of creativity to the armpit of the Universe that be Hayes!

And my involvement with the group led to my short story ‘ A Bump on the Head.’ being exhibited as part of a showcase on creativity at Uxbridge Library with the Mayor in attendance no less.

A Bump on the Head

Gunshot Glitter progress – my novel is almost there, and thanks to Celene Petrulak the cover is almost there and in 2012 you will be reading it or I’ll do a jig in the middle of the 607 bus to Uxbridge and humiliate myself. Thank you all so much for helping me stay on track. Especially my friend Steve Brown who proof-read it, printed off a copy for me and has generally kept me going when I’ve gone wobbly for one reason or another. And to professional proof-reader Jill Blair who was the first person to read the master copy and give it the thumbs up! She told me it made her cry twice. I know I shouldn’t be pleased about making a grown woman cry but what can I say? I was! I was just relieved she enjoyed my book and it moved her.

Lactofree: Lactose or should that be lack of lactase is my nemesis. This led to me blogging for Lactofree and that led to me being featured in the William and Kate wedding issue for OK! Magazine in a double page spread at the back. Yes, you can read about the bellyache milk gives me and how Lactofree makes it all better again. But on a more serious note, having your writing respected enough to have people ask you to write for them is v.flattering, I was also pleased to contribute to Ronke Adeyemi’s Musings of Ondolady a few times this year. And also Maldives.net on my memories of living and working in the Maldives. You can find links to all of these pieces and more if you click on Contact Me Here

The More Personal Stuff

Appearing on the BBC4 documentary Perfume talking about Fahrenheit – that was really exciting for me. It went out over the summer and you can see me sat on my bed fondling a bottle of it. I was in the second episode and it’s sometimes repeated but you can also see some of it here on You Tube. That’s me at the very start. Hello you!  The rest is at the end of a clip at part 1.

Perfume

Seeing my childhood best friends together again for the first time in 22 years! That was lovely. Thank you to Laila and Ruby, we had a lot of fun catching up. They’ve now got 10 kids between them or something insane. Thank you Facebook for enabling this to happen. And more recently, seeing Ritson Douglas over Xmas for the first time in ages, that was really nice. He still has the power to make me laugh a lot.

Me and Ed Harcourt

Gigs! Seeing Mogwai thrice, dancing myself sore to Moby. Developing an unlikely crush on James Morrison. Seeing Evi Vine, Her Name is Calla, Nadine Khouri and Marmaduke Dando at the Union Chapel Daylight Sessions. Joanna Quail’s extraordinary album launch in a church in London replete with art and burlesque pole-dancing. Low at the Barbican were magic. Trevor treating me to Holst’s The Planets at the Royal Albert Hall was really exciting. It’s my favourite classical suite. But my favourite gig of the year was seeing Ed Harcourt at Bush Hall ( see above). It was the first time I’d seen him live in two and a half years. I love you, Ed and I am looking forward to blogging about you in 2012. This was a v.v.quiet year for me with music actually, but what I saw, I enjoyed, though Mogwai at Brixton was so loud it drove me backwards, that was a first.

My face is on a plane! Yes it is. A KLM passenger jet has a tile on it with my smiley face and the saying ‘No man would exist in the world if not for a woman’ – because it’s true.

I feature in a composite poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2. It’s like one of those posters for The Truman Show with loads of wee pix. It was a Facebook win.

My friend Nerissa treating me to a pole-dance class over the summer. I was positively freaked out when she told me about it, even though I really love dancing, but I bloody loved it. It was such fun and I wasn’t half bad actually. I hope to do that again sometime.

Doing an Acting Improvisation Class with City Academy. Very liberating and the people there were really sweet. I’m doing a Musical Theatre taster in January. Yikes.

Seeing my friend, circus performer,  Frederike Gerstner pull off Obstacle at Jackson’s Lane theatre with my friend Jo Quail on cello. I helped Fred with a bit of copy-writing and it was exciting to see the show actualised.

Rococo ‘ The Cat That Got The Cream’ chocolate assortment. Once eaten, never forgotten. Heaven on my tongue is all I can say. Thanks to my generous ex, Lyndon, for the birthday treat. I have the box lid framed on my wall, in fact I’m looking at it right now ; ) Yummy!

Forays into the dark. Me and Trevor went hill-walking in Northolt ( wear trainers next time Yasmin, NOT sandals) and then snuck into an adventure playground and ran riot on the swings, slides and assault course. It was 10pm a lot of fun. He said he hadn’t done something like that in years. You can never be too old to enjoy the swings. (Oh and our trip to the British Musical Experience was brilliant. I treated him for his birthday and we have a video booth clip of us dancing to ‘Stayin Alive’ by The Bee Gees as a permanent souvenir of a really good day.)

Me and Steve went prowling in a church graveyard one balmy summer night in the Cotswolds after a really nice pub supper. I vividly recall being mesmerised by this floodlit clock and how beautiful it looked lit up in the dark. It was gorgeous, very special. I felt really affected by that moment. I wish I could have bottled it. I remember going back and leaving an excited little note on Chris Pink’s blog about it all and how I wished he could have been there to paint it.  I was so happy.

Check out their feet!

Great days out to Kew Gardens on my birthday and Rousham Gardens in Oxfordshire, seeing a funky looking pigeon house and these hens with feathered, weird feet and peacocks. And these statues of Pan and Venus that inspired my first wholly erotic tale in years titled ‘Venus.’ Me and Steve always have a great time mooching new places and end up unearthing strange little nooks and crannies : ) Long may those days out continue. England really is a green and pleasant land.

Road trip feet

The London to Austria road-trip, it was a bit of an adventure and I finally got to see Bruges!!! I’ve wanted to see Bruges ever since seeing the excellent movie ‘In Bruges’. What a fine place. Thank you Richard Mills for taking me along for the ride. Listening to tons of David Bowie driving through German mountains was especially wow. The Swarovski Crystal museum in Austria was excellent too. I’m a big fan of things that shimmer and sparkle and had no idea such a place existed.

Crystal jellyfish!

The Brady Bunch. My friends Pete and Sally have three kids between them. They’re gorgeous little human beings. I treated them all to Harry Potter at the BFI IMAX courtesy of a Ladybird Book win and also had them over to the Castle to teach them all how to make chapattis. Sally and Pete have been v.encouraging with Gunshot Glitter and surprised me over the summer by sending me a parcel with scary films and a pot of Body Shop Vanilla Spice bath melt, which is no longer available in store. I was v.touched. I’ve painted feminine eyes for them as gifts, I’ve never given anyone my art before. That felt good.

Brands that have been nice to me. Companies often get a kicking in the media for bad behaviour, exploitation, dastardly deeds and general capitalist blah-de-blah. But every now and then they do stuff because they can and to make you happy because they can. And I am talking about YOU, Sacla!!

Sacla ***rock***. I am a total foodie and when I get into anything, I really, really get into it. So when it vanishes I’m often left disconsolate. Sacla did these roasted little onions in sunflower oil by the jar. I absolutely loved them. If I found them on special offer I was in 7th heaven. Then one day they vanished. I scoured supermarkets everywhere. It turned out they’d been discontinued. I was mournful for the best part of a year and then wrote to them on Facebook.

They did something so sweet I recorded a thank you video message in Italian. Sacla Italy posted FOUR jars of said vegetable treasures for me, free of charge. They still sell them in Italy!! I was bowled over. I still have one jar left. It made me v.v.happy.

Look, how pretty!

Bodyform deserve a thank you too for sending me a very bohemian and pretty freebie sanitary pad tin I’d been unable to find in store. That was really cool of them. Look how pretty it is!

Being skint has not been nice, but Kam at Ingeus and Kalpna from the job centre made the whole thing less painful for me by understanding they were dealing with a person and not a NI number. Kalpna get’s quote of the year with ‘ Don’t let these hanky panky thoughts spoil your cleverness.’

And I’ve won some lovely competitions too through-out the year keeping me in tartware, flowers, food and shoes I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy so freely otherwise. It also means I can treat the good people in my life who love me : )

From The Red Carpet recognising my geeky film buff passion and sending me free tickets to join in on Sunday movie discussions has meant a lot to me too. I can treat a mate and enjoy the silver screen. It all adds up, it all matters.

And I am grateful a few weeks of part-time winter copy-writing paid great dividends at a critical moment. Thank you for that Stopgap! : )

Taking Princess Peony around Minet Country Park for the very first time and really enjoying my bike. I was so chuffed with myself! Up until October, I’d only cycled up and down the back of my flat yard as I’m a bit of a nervous rider, so this was a biggie for me. It’s taken my whole adult life to get that far. Meeting Brian at the Hayes Bicycle Club was nice, he’s a bit special and at 71 could put men half his age to shame with his energy and fitness levels. And he’s a Scorpio. And when I came a croppa and had an accident, his bunch picked me up and patched me and the Princess back up again.

Cat-fostering Jimmy cat for the Mayhew Animal Home. He’s now been adopted. Hurrah! I’d encourage all of you to love or look after an animal at some point in your life if you haven’t already.

Jimmy!

This is a novel memory from my year, but a good one. I managed to stop a toddler crying who was driving her mother and sisters insane in my local Sainsbury’s. I wasn’t having a hot day myself, but I could see this mother was really struggling, and part of me thought, she’s going to tell me to fuck off if I speak to her, don’t get involved!  But I got involved anyway and asked her if I could help and got chatting to toddler-screaming-herself-puce and managed to distract her into stopping with the aid of a spectacular monkey face ( stolen from my brother, Tariq), a back rub, chatter and the aid of a tissue to blow her wet nose. Yasmin Selena Butt …aka Baby-whisperer.

The Affordable Art Fair. Three great visits. Two of them thanks to my artist friend Helen Brown. The third in Battersea due to my cunning tactic of removal of ticket from table. I took Trevor and he loved it. And we participated in a photographic project for a book by taking part in a photo-shoot. The reward was a black and white print of your own choice. I chose one of myself with my eyes closed where I’m smiling. And I hadn’t smiled in a while at that point. I called the photo ‘ No-one gets to steal your smile.’ It’s framed and sits in my bedroom.

Starting to get to grips with the power of positive-thinking, Reiki and a bit of modern psychology. I thank Matthew Hussey, Chandi, Raj, Quantum Success and Vicky Crump for the energy, wisdom and support. Especially Vicky Crump who I swear is a little blonde angel on this earth. It all came at the right time for me, has been like a helping hand and hasn’t cost me a thing just in case you think I’ve been swept into some kind of cult. I haven’t! I’ve just twigged that if you think negatively and are cross and sad that’s what you’re gonna attract and get.  Kind of makes sense if you think about it? I feel better for believing things will be better and acting more positively and when I think of some of my best achievements, they’ve come from taking that mindset.

Attending a candle-making class for the first time at Wholefoods in Kensington with Jonathan Ward and getting to take two artisan candles home. It was the day before my birthday and really quite exciting. I wrote the poem Gypsy about one of his candles. You must smell them if you get the chance. He’s a nice guy and his empire is expanding. I met him at Excel’s Taste of Christmas in 2010 and was really impressed he remembered me from that. All his candles are hand-poured and made with essential oils.

Finally, after two odd years of mysterious weirdness going on, that’s seen this here bod, inflate a disproportionate amount compared to what goes in it, I’m finally getting my figure back!!! You’ve NO IDEA what this means to me. My confidence took a massive blow over the summer, I wanted to weep when I looked in the mirror, but I’ve worked my tush off with a tough exercise DVD and cutting down on lactose/gluten and I can finally see my waistline again which is a miracle. A miracle I tell you!  I feel more girly and I treated myself to Dorothy Oz red glittery shoes and feel all womanly and seductive again and my hair looks nice too. Phew : ) I hope I can maintain it.

Mine!

And the rest of my writing was pretty personal, but feature love, pain and mastering the art of forgiveness and truly wrapping my lips around the words and understanding what they really mean. It’s impossible to always get things right, to succeed the first time you try; I’ve made some mistakes this year and I know it, but I also did a lot of good things this year and I know that too. It’s all about balance and facing up to stuff however tough it is. That’s all you can really do.

So 2012. Scary eh? But it should be a really, really good one. Jupiter’s doing something special in the sky, so go for it. And may all your dreams come true… x x x

p.s. Time for a bath. Mine’s got Fizzbanger by Lush going in it. It’s New Year’s Eve lol, it seemed appropriate ; ) x

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