Friday, December 28, 2007

Goodbye to '07

So… that was Christmas, then. Due to plans that had to be changed at the last minute as a consequence of various coughs, colds and other maladies, I ended up cooking two Christmas dinners, one on the day and the other on Boxing Day, and fed a total of 16 members of family. I’ve had a bad cold myself for a week and a really painful back (I’m finally going for an x-ray after the new year), so I feel like it was something of an accomplishment. Now I just want to sleep…

Anyway, I know you guys over in the US have a habit of summarising your year in the form of a Christmas greeting. Us Brits actually find it all a bit weird - well, we're a pretty conventional lot - but nevertheless I’m going to give it a shot. Call me a hypocrite (I’ve been called a lot worse, believe me)…


What can I say about the events of this year? First of all, after three or four years of playing the eternal bachelor (and, to quote the gorgeous NML, seeing more arse than a toilet seat), I find myself living with a woman 18 years my junior and rather enjoying the experience. Many people have wondered how two people as different as me and Bea have made it work – age, culture, background, even language all seem to dictate otherwise – and the truth is we’re not entirely sure ourselves. All I can say is that she’s the most loving and affectionate woman I’ve ever met, and when you add to that her simmering Latino sexiness… well, give me a break. I’m a lot of things, but I’m not stupid. I'm not one for looking too far ahead because the one thing I know about plans is that they invariably get fucked up, but we're certainly enjoying the here and now. I don’t see any obvious reason for that to change.

This year also saw something of a milestone (how ironic that I almost typed "millstone") so far as my ex-wife is concerned, as now she really is my ex-wife - our divorce became absolute in December after about 5 years of formal separation. The truth is that I was momentarily overjoyed, after which I didn’t think about it again. That said, I find it hard to believe that we were ever together because I really don't like her at all, and her behaviour is becoming more and more unpleasant. She’s now completely unable to communicate other than by being blatantly rude (best case scenario) or screaming down the telephone (normal behaviour). She’s due to give birth to twins some time in January (7 in one house???) and all I can say is… yikes!


In October 2005 I did something rather strange... something that was the consequence of an increasing sense of frustration and dissatisfaction that I knew only I could change. During the course of a routine monthly review meeting with my then-MD Tricky Dicky, I asked if he would be kind enough to make me redundant because "lets face it, we just don't like each other", and even though I had my heart in my mouth it was worth it just to see the look in his face. Priceless!

Last year I was just getting myself up and running, so in reality this has been my first full year of trading. I set myself what looked like a pretty tough target and – having just checked my figures as the year-end approaches – I’ve beaten it by 100%. At times its been soul destroying, and at other times I’ve hated the sense of responsibility – for everything, because there's no-one else to delegate to. I’ve also learnt some tough lessons about business and friendship – sometimes they can go together but often they can’t, and in a sense that has been the toughest lesson of all.

But most of the time I’ve loved it, and I can’t imagine what I'd be feeling now if I hadn't taken the chance to do this when I did . I have a couple of great clients that I've been working with for almost 18 months, I've seen (glimpses, at least, of) countries that I wouldn't otherwise have visited, and I've proven to myself that having the courage of your convictions can make all sorts of things possible. It just takes balls. Now, can I bill you?

The Sprogs

Wow – what changes so far as the kids are concerned. Sam has become so grown-up, and now represents not only the school but one of the local under-11 sides at football (that’s soccer to you lot across the pond). Our relationship is closer than ever, and I’m proud of the kind and sensitive child he’s become (in fact, that he’s always been). Next year he starts secondary school, and I can hardly believe it, but he still curls up with me on the sofa just as he did when he was a toddler. Mind you, he doesn't go upstairs to change into speedos just to watch WWE these days! Bless...

Livvy has begun her tortuous journey through adolescence, and the truth is that it’s not been easy on either of us. She’s often withdrawn, moody, rude or just uncommunicative… aside from when she wants something – usually money – in which case she talks to me as if I’m a human being and even smiles at me sometimes. I’ve come to realise with a reasonable degree of certainty that she’s manipulating her mother, her mother’s manipulating her, or they’re both manipulating each other – whichever it is the result’s the same, it's to my detriment, and it’s reached the stage where its becoming damaging to our relationship. The whispered conversations on mobile phones are increasingly irritating and Bea agrees with me that something needs to be done, so I guess we have a Big Talk coming. I’m not exactly confident that things can be resolved that easily, but I miss the girl she was (and that I know she is), so I have to keep on trying.

There you have it, then… in anyone’s language that was quite a year, but it was also a year that I could never have predicted. And if there's a moral in this story, the moral is this - sometimes we get stuck in what seems like an eternal rut, and it looks like nothing will ever change. But we can make it happen. Of course I know that other factors play a part, but ultimately we're all in charge of our own destiny, and just having the courage to face change in a positive way can transform change itself.

And now, all that’s left is to wish everyone reading this nonsense a happy and healthy 2008. To quote a rather clever guy with even bigger ears than me, may you live long and prosper.

Beam me up, Scotty…

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