I don't know where this year has gone but, more alarmingly, I'm not entirely sure where this decade has gone either. We're on the home straight towards the second decade of the 21st century and I still think that 'the year 2000' sounds terribly futuristic, and I can remember when we were all looking forward to it. And now it's 10 years ago. What the fuck happened...?
The Noughties seems to have been a decade that never really made an identity for itself, not like, say, the Sixties or even the Eighties; we all have images and sounds that we can link with those decades. Of course, it may be more apparent in years to come that we can only see what the Noughties were like with the gift of hindsight.
Lots of stuff did actually happen (as it always does) - we had the Twin Towers on 9 September 2001 (which has surely become this generation's everyone-remembers-where-they-were-a la-JFK's-assassination-in-1963 moment - for the record I was driving back from a day's work at a museum in Woking and listening to the news on the radio; I'd been on holiday in Manhattan 2 days previously....) and then the subsequent war in Iraq followed by the even more pointless war in Afghanistan. There were various bombings and shootings in London, Bali and Delhi. There were three Olympic Games' in Sydney, Athens and Beijing. There was the devastating tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 which killed a staggering quarter of a million people. The first black president of the USA was elected. We got Gordon Brown. The economy collapsed (the last two points may be linked). iPods and iPhones and the Wii arrived. The carbon footprint was invented. Assorted famous people died.
On a personal note, thinking back on it, quite a lot has happened to me. I suffered my second biggest ever hangover on 2 January 2000 (the biggest was when I was 14 and me and Nicola Devonshire had decided one evening that we would drink her parents' drink cabinet dry. I was sick as a dog for 2 days from the alcohol poisoning and wanted to die. It's a wonder my parents didn't kill me. I've never apologised to Nicky's mum and dad for that - sorry, Mike and Jenny....). Late 2000 saw the end of my dreams of becoming a mum - I had my third (and last) miscarriage and we decided to stop throwing good money after bad and call a halt to the infertility treatments. I also stopped working in an office doing a 'proper' job for the first time since 1981.
I started exercising an atrophied brain muscle or two and managed to get myself a BSc(Hons) from Surrey and an MA in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaelogy, UCL during the first half of the Noughties. Surrey Uni also managed to dash my fragile hopes of an academic career as a lecturer by closing down the degree course I was lecturing on. I'd not had enough experience of lecturing to apply anywhere else and, at the same time, Surrey County Council closed down all the archaeology adult education courses so bang went that dream. Thanks, guys.
I did start my own business, though, making jewellery. I called it VenerableBead and I sell both online and at craft fairs. I've enjoyed it very much as it uses the non-academic, creative half of my brain and people seem to like what I make, which is always ego-boosting.
Travel abroad has been a bit thin on the ground over the last decade, which is a sadness. We started the decade with a week's trip to New York in September 2001 (travelling in glorious business class with flat beds), managing to get home 2 days before the Towers fell down, which was cutting it a bit fine. Exactly a year later, TLH, TLH's sister and I found ourselves spending a week in Las Vegas, where we made sure to be out of the city on the actual day of the anniversary, in case anyone wanted to commemorate anything by blowing up the world's spangliest Den of Iniquity (they didn't). Then there was 12 days in Thailand to celebrate finishing my first degree. At some point around the middle of the decade we did a cut-price week in Malta - ancient Malta is absolutely fantastic, modern Malta - meh. My sister-in-law was lucky enough to win a week's holiday in a lovely medieval manor house in beautiful northern Majorca and asked me and TLH to join her (2004 I think that was). One of my favourite holidays this decade was the 10 days or so driving holiday TLH and I did one summer in Europe, going down through France through Strasbourg into Switzerland to stay at Interlaken, then back up through Germany and into Belgium - fabulous! This year, of course, saw my 3-week sojourn in Budapest (which wasn't a holiday). So I may have lied, written down it looks like there's been a lot of travel (but it doesn't really feel like it!). Oh, we also spent a week 'glamping' in a yurt in St Breward, Bodmin Moor a couple of years ago - let me tell you, the Milky Way is astonishingly clear in a pitch black sky at 2am.
My health has been a bit of an issue this decade - the last few years have seen me in hospital a couple of times for gallstone removal, then complications arising from gallstone removal, then complications arising from investigation of the complications arising from the gallstone removal which then resulted in Pancreatitis. Then the lingering effects of the Pancreatitis kept hanging around and probably took a year to sort itself all out properly. But, touch wood, I'm fine now.
This decade also saw my third worst ever hangover when my younger brother got married in 2004 (I think). They ran away to Vegas to get married proper, but then had a blessing in a local church which, for all intents and purposes, was like a wedding anyway with frocks and bridesmaids and flowers. It was a fabulously unstuffy affair. They asked me to do a reading so I gave them the beginning and end of 'Oh, the places you'll go!' by Dr Seuss. Relatives that we'd not seen since they were little kids turned up and vast quantities were drunk - mostly by me. November 2005 saw the arrival of their first-born, Roo. Their second will be born in the first weeks of the new decade. And I'm very pleased to say that no deaths in the family were necessary to make room - a whole decade with all family members remaining intact (although my stepdad gave us a shock with a random heart attack three Decembers ago) is something to be very grateful for. Sadly, though, I did lose some friends - there were a couple of cerebral haemorrhages, one breast cancer, one heart attack and an accidental suicide - but I've got to that age now where this sort of thing starts happening.
But I don't want to end on a maudling note. I've made some lovely new online friends through blogging - hi Katy, Emma and Ali - and I do have some resolutions that I'm going to try and keep to (and which don't involve dieting - quite the opposite in fact!) so tune in later for those.
Happy New Year everyone!
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