Thursday, 31 December 2009

That was the decade that was

And so goodbye to the noughties… when this decade started I was 23 years-old, with a newly acquired illustration degree six months behind me. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, what was possible, what I wanted. I had moved back home (a common theme to be repeated throughout the decade) and my teenage ‘Saturday’ job had engulfed my week. Life seemed a little dull. Little did I know what was in store!

For a start I would live in five different places – all in north London. Two of these would be with friends – one known since we shared the same class in senior school, the other yet to be made in those early months of 2000. Both of which I was a proud bridesmaid for later in the decade. Three places would be with J – quirky flats that we made our own, one that came complete with pet ladybirds.

I would hold five jobs – two of which would not so sadly end in redundancy. One I would take to court for unfair dismissal and age discrimination, and win damages higher than £30,000, although the money was never forthcoming. Darn villains! The other was a daily newspaper hit by the credit crunch, and I was happy to leave. I would also work as a freelance writer, with long contracts up and down the country, and regular articles published in magazines and my local newspaper. I would interview people such as Bananarama, Ryan Reynolds, Josh Hartnett, Will Smith. I would wade through a lost river under London, work as an extra on a film, and attend the BAFTA awards as a guest. I would convince the priest of a church in Belgium that I needed his church for a commercial; I would fly to Sweden to attend a meeting. Twice I would turn my back on conventional employment to work for myself. The first time I would have a stall on a farmer’s market and sell handmade cards and paintings; I would also hold my first (and only!) art exhibition in a pub. The second time I would write a novel.

I would visit several countries for work (Belgium, France, Malta, Sweden, Switzerland) and several countries/cities for pleasure (New York, France, Canada, Croatia, Rhodes, Italy, Portugal, Cape Town, Poland). Some of them I would even visit three times (New York and Canada). I would also learn to appreciate the British Isles, and take long weekends in Cornwall, Swanage, the Lake District, Norfolk, Windsor, Glasgow, and visit Wales. I would go camping – twice at festivals, and twice with friends. In the early part of the decade I thought I would go on a snowboarding holiday every year – I was right until 2003. Instead my longest 'sport' became yoga – at some point every year I have attended a class, although I will rarely attend for more than three months in a row.

This is the decade in which I said a sad goodbye to my Nan, and to my first cat Timmy.

This is also the decade where I met S’s cats Abigail and Ginger, and they made their home with me.

Music festivals were an event on the calendar when I started the decade – Ozfest, Reading, Download, Hard Rock Calling, Lovebox, V Festival… dancing was important to me. Stand-alone gigs (not necessarily my choice!) would be Kylie, Robbie Williams, U2, Scissor Sisters, Disturbed, The Who, Aerosmith, The Answer, The Wonderstuff, Madness, and The Pet Shop Boys. I would also lean more towards classical music at the end of the decade – attending the Proms three years in a row, and various classical concerts around London.

My best, and most solid, friendships are still with the people who entered the decade with me, including J. I add to that list a few new names from this decade, but the noughties to me has been more of a time for fun acquaintances, a whirlwind of faces that come and go, and an appreciation of older friends. Three of my close friends now have children, four are married. Whereas once we all lived so close, some of my friends now live further afield - Acton, Borehamwood, Cheshunt, Harlow, Welwyn Garden City, Cambridge, to name but a few. One lives a whole plane ride away!

I started this decade with an illustrated cat book. I sent it away; it was too short. I packed it under the bed. I then went hell for leather on a book idea in 2002 and fifty pages in I decided it was terrible. I started another straightaway, and got eighty pages in before sending it off. I probably made every mistake possible, and yet still received kindly rejections. I then started another that was progressively more dark and gloomy, and changed tack yet again halfway through with another illustrated book idea for children. Another kind rejection (or three) later, I concentrated on earning money instead. Until in 2006 I had this book idea... and it hummed and poked at my subconscious for a year until I decided to give it a proper go. I have since gathered three more novel ideas that are sitting patiently in my brain. I now realise just how much work there is to getting an idea ready for others to see, which makes me feel even worse about the early submitted material!

And so I end the year with a non-published illustrated cat book, J, nice job, good friends, and a novel. I feel rather happy about that. Happy New Year's Eve to you all, however you spend it!


Sad edit, 5th January 2010: And so I end the year with a non-published illustrated cat book, nice job, good friends, and a novel.


Kit Courteney said...

Blimey, Jayne, you make my decade look like the back of a cereal packet!

How swish are you?!?!

I can't get my mail to work (again!) so I'll wish you a Happy New Year here.

May you get everything you deserve, and a little bit more.

C x

music obsessive said...

Couldn't have put it better myself, Kit. So...Blimey Jayne! (Mental note to self: forget the autobiography).

In my defence, I was 43 at the beginning of the decade and at that age life doesn't really have the same propensity to change, but nevertheless, I'm feeling a bit boring.

Please slow down a bit this decade, I'm feeling a bit dizzy. Great post, all the same.

Rose said...

Wow a busy time indeed! Hope the twentyteens are as varied and bring some publishing to the interesting list.

Happy New Year (and I'm very jealous about the baftas!)

Eliza said...

What a whirlwind of a decade, I seem to have done nothing for the last ten years. I feel exhausted and dizzy just reading your post. Don't stop though, you are living life to the full - good on you and Happy new year :-)

Jayne said...

Hello Kit. Hee - thank you, I like the thought of being 'swish'! Hope your mail gets sorted soon.

Hello Martin. Don't feel boring! Although you have made me feel great about the stuff I've been doing - cheers for that!

Hello Rose. Glad you think interesting, and oh how I wish with the publishing... cross fingers for me this year!

Hello Eliza. It didn't actually feel like a whirlwind living it, but now, looking back... I am happy with my memories! And thank you - good wishes to you too.

202 said...

Loved this piece - didnt want it to end. BRILLIANT. proud to have been a part of it S

Jayne said...

Aww S! *reaches across miles to give you a hug*