TWIST: This super-secret spy guy... is me!!!!!!
My plan had been to ease my way out of 2016, keep my head down, and try to avoid any major disasters in the final couple of weeks of this horrible year. Unfortunately, I spent all of Monday night in excruciating pain, intermittently vomiting, while reading the news about the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, and the Berlin Christmas Market tragedy, and wondering if this was the End of Times.
The tummy pain and puking was my own fault: I had an endoscopy last week, during which I learned that I have mild erosive gastritis. It's not the worst thing I could have admittedly - though hilariously, my GP had sent my appointment through emblazoned with the words "SUSPECTED CANCER".
Nonetheless, I'm on medication for it, and in order to let my stomach heal and not aggravate the condition, I'm not meant to be eating much more than gruel over Christmas. No really: actual gruel is one of the few things that's okay to eat. Think of me when you're stuffing your fat face with Quality Street.
Of course, I can rarely avoid a rake, so on Monday night I decided to make myself a massive plate of spicy buffalo wings, which I washed down with a big bowl of Cheetos. Hence: pain-oh-vom-oh.
Two further things you should know: 1) An endoscopy is litertally worst thing ever; 2) Except for gastritis, which is slightly worse.
Now get this: as there's no sign of bacteria in my stomach, the gastritis has most likely been brought on by stress.
"What stress?" you ask. "Mr Biffo has a stress-free and gilded existence, and is loved, and supported by billions..."
Well. Yeah. That's what I told myself. Great life and all that, but my stomach doesn't lie. Thus: this is an opportune moment to look back on the past year, and explore what type of stress might've led to me having a camera shoved down my gullet... so that I don't have to go through the same thing this time next year. It's self-indulgent, to be sure, but when has that ever stopped me?
"Try not to retch, Mr Rose."
"Try not shoving a big hose down my throat."
But wait... the rake-stepping doesn't stop there! I thought I should try to take Tuesday off, and attempted some of this relaxation that I'd been told so much about. However, I was so sleep-addled that while trying to set up my Xbox One to play Dead Rising 4, I knocked a glass of water over my laptop, killing it immediately.
And most likely losing a load of work in the process, because I forgot to back it up, despite buying a external hard drive a few weeks ago with the express intention of doing so.
My recovery is going great so far! So, so well. Just awesome.
I began 2016 feeling a bit weird about my day job. Despite everything going well on paper - literally; I'm a writer, you see - I wasn't feeling particularly creatively fulfilled, despite having had Digitiser2000 to scratch that itch.
I've loved writing 4 O'Clock Club for CBBC over the last six years or so, but have struggled to ever feel a sense of ownership over it. There are lots of people involved at a creative level, and I'm sort of lost in the mix a bit - proud of my part in it as I am.
Nevertheless, it was a fairly decent year for me in terms of kids TV work. 4 O'Clock Club was recommissioned - and I'm already working on another series of it for next year. Very few kids TV shows make it to seven series, so we must be doing something right.
I had a few other jobs rumbling alongside it. A couple of eps of a CBBC show called Millie Inbetween, and some development stuff, setting up potential future projects here and there. Some of which I'm still working on now. Ultimately, I've nothing really to grumble about there.
It has been years since I really allowed work to dominate my life; I have a strict rule of not working weekends - I no longer respond to weekend work emails - and I don't work evenings, unless it's an absolute emergency. Which it rarely is, because life is life, and work is work.
Still, it was early summer that I started to feel as if I was being stretched somewhat thinly.
My mum was taken into hospital for a pretty major operation. Going under the knife at any age is a risk, but particularly so when you're 80 years old. She recovered, but it was nevertheless a worry, followed by a couple of months spent going to see her in hospital every other day or so. Evening and weekend downtime evaporated, as spare hours were spent keeping her company.
And then, a week or so after she left hospital... a random lunatic punched me in the face, and I ended up in hospital myself. I was blind in one eye for several weeks, followed by several more weeks absolutely off my nut on steroids.
And not the fun sort of being off my nut... but the sort where I was asleep most of the time. I barely remember August.
As soon as that was over, I had the Block Party to organise. In the run-up I was so anxious that nobody would show up, or that it was all be a disaster, that I was having proper anxiety dreams for the first time in my life. Then I started waking up in the night with stomach pains and vomiting. I thought it was probably the stress - I just didn't realise that the stress had started to melt through my guts.
I don't think I'd have let it all get to me so much, had I not already been somewhat worn down. I don't know if you're the same, but I certainly have finite resources in certain areas, and when they're depleted it takes a while for them to regain strength.
Anyhow, off the back of Block Party/Digifest, I launched the Kickstarter for Found Footage (and as part of that, I drew 300-odd unique teletext artworks for backers). And alongside all this, I had a daughter to send off to uni, and another five assorted children or step-children to be there for, and a mother, and work. And decided to release a Christmas single.
Normally for the last three months of a year my work goes quiet, and I go into a sort of panic about not being able to pay my bills. This year that quiet time would've come in handy, but it wasn't to be: I've had more work on over the last few months than I've ever had in the last quarter of a year ever. Oh, and I also started writing a column in Retro Gamer.
Also, there's a ton of stuff behind-the-scenes, when it comes to Digitiser2000, which I hadn't banked on when I started. Being Mr Biffo once again brings with it a lot of extra answering emails, or messages on Twitter or Facebook - and it can be hard to keep up with it all. I mean... I get a lot of messages. Which I love and appreciate... but either I spend my whole time answering them, or put them off for later, and have them gnawing away at me.
Looking back at it all, it's little wonder that I've started eating my own stomach. Even my other half - who handles all the Digitiser2000 shop stuff, and helped organise Digifest - has been suffering jaw pain from clenching it.
I don't say any of this in the spirit of boasting, or trying to elicit sympathy.
I mean, it's ridiculous to make yourself ill through overwork (though, as described above, not all of the stress has been work-related). Not least when I thought my workaholic days were behind me.
I think the situation I'm in is that I've found something I love - Digitiser2000, Found Footage, Digifest, Mr Biffo-related stuff - which fulfills that creative need in me, but it isn't happening at a level where it can keep a roof over my head. This year I tried to have my cake and eat it... and ended up on a gruel-only diet.
Certainly, the hugely successful Found Footage campaign, and the ongoing income from Patreon and Paypal, helps (and if you would like to contribute - the links are in the sidebar, or below this article, depending on what platform you're using to read it) - and for which I remain deeply grateful to everyone who contributes.
Nevertheless, the nature of what I do is niche, and will probably never make me rich, so the day job is the one which keeps everyone fed, and means we can afford Christmas, and have the occasional holiday, maybe.
And juggling the two things would be fine, if other stuff hadn't happened this year which stopped me ever quite getting the downtime I need. I mean, I managed to go away back at Easter, but didn't get a chance to go have a break in the summer. I just ploughed on through.
Which was a bit stupid, with hindsight.
So... in short, I've had a fantastic 2016 on so many levels. Digifest and the Found Footage Kickstarter are the undoubted highlights.
Still, this is my end-of-year attempt to justify taking off a couple of weeks from Digitiser2000 to try and recharge and heal my gradually dissolving body. Not least because when I come back in January I'll be going head-first into Found Footage. Once I've tried to recover all the important Found Footage footage that is now trapped on my busted MacBook. SSSSSTRESSSSSS.
I was hoping to get a Digi2000 Panto-Oh up this year - not least because I enjoy writing them - and wanted to record a commentary for the Found Footage Christmas Special - but I think the sensible thing to do is to take some time off. I'll get you the commentary in January. Hopefully you'll all understand.
I'll keep the Advent calendar going until the big day, and I'm sure you'll see me on Twitter, but for now this is me signing off until the New Year.
So, thank you for all your support in 2016 - financial, and otherwise. So many of you have said such lovely things, and it is all appreciated. I'm a very, very, lucky man.
Have the best Christmas you can, have a brilliant New Year, and let's hope 2017 is a damn sight better than this year has been.
Oh! And buy Sexy Christmas USA if you haven't already. All profits go to Cancer Research UK.