Even though the BBC probably weren’t thinking of me specifically when they dubbed 2011 ‘the year when a lot happened’, I might appropriate it, because it was quite a ride. Thanks to everyone who made it happen, whether for one day or the whole year…
SexFest On Tour gifted the art of midnight pillow fighting to Barnet’s streets, and kicked off a month of some fabulously geeky activities. I’m talking about going to see The Room for the first time, starting Firefly with Jamie and Katie, hosting a Dr. Horrible sing-along in my front room, another evening of Science Museum Lates and – of course – getting memorable one-on-one time with Psychic TV. Tash K introduced me to Sherlock, Charlotte Speechley and I saw The King’s Speech, and I happily failed to kill Matt and Caroline whilst cooking them breakfast.
In early February I said my goodbyes in unconventional ways: probing local homoeopaths with Tash K, and a memorable and mostly hilarious SFX Weekender with Abbi, Paul and David. And then I packed my bags and left for a month in America! Boston, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco… and all the way showered in hospitality by friends and family who took me everywhere from a lecture theatre in snow-covered Harvard to a kayak on the glistening Pacific Ocean. An amazing time, leaving me with some very happy memories.
Tugging me back home, though, was a [date / casual sangria evening] (delete as applicable) with Grace. This went well. Later on we actually watched Eat, Pray, Love to make sure our relationship wasn’t based on hating a film unjustly… and it wasn’t. I also saw CULES perform up in Cambridge, danced for the Wii a lot at Emily’s 18th birthday, went on the March For The Alternative, hosted more Geek Corner – with cake! – and conducted the first ever dominicself.co.uk Readership Census which revealed that over half my readers belong to Ravenclaw. So no surprises there.
When Joshua ‘brings work home with him’ it’s cuter than most, and we spent a day obsessing over Munchkin the kitten during the hot and summery April – perfect for a NOMAD outdoor cinema evening of Strictly Ballroom, too. There was also my first visit to the Tricycle of 2011 (Brontë) and the annual QPCS extravaganza (West Side Story). Online, I had a tweet illustrated by the marvellous Irkafirka and also got into Kiva, the micro-finance charity. Plus, more smiles in more diaries
Jimmy Buchanan died in May this year. His funeral was a tribute to how many people loved him – a rare and wonderful chance to see so many old faces again. Thankfully, there was also an end to every conversation collapsing into “so, about the AV referendum…” as I hesitatingly made up my mind and voted, safe in the knowledge that it was about to be massively defeated anyway. (It was the same story at Joshua’s Eurovision night, but with much more fun and laughter.) This month I also found my cocktail soulmate in Matt, attempted some couples badminton in Abi’s back garden, was treated to a recording of QI courtesy of Jamie, saw Mark Thomas at the Tricycle and finally got to meet, argue and drink with the one and only Henry Balkwill. Oh, and I also completed my last little bit of work on School Wars and at long last joined the massed ranks of smartphone addicts.
Retro family fun in Clacton: a day at the seaside, complete with sandcastles, arcade machines and dodgem cars! Later in June my birthday was a joyful mix of picnic, pub and Pizza Express, and the very next day (because I was all old and everything) I started work at Groupon. In a proper office and everything. (Just six months later, it’s incredible to look back to my first day and see how much has changed.) I also played some competitive games of Hungry Hungry Hippos in Cambridge, watched some classic films (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, When Harry Met Sally and Alien) and went along to my first of Jaf’s gigs one night in Camden.
Plenty of summery things: my second Puntcon in Cambridge, Saoirse’s 18th birthday picnic in Green Park and the QPCS Summer Fair, where Grace and I progressed from participating in the annual debate to judging it. Talking of Queens Park, my old Humanities teacher dropped in for a visit one lunchtime, as did a rain-swept Sanna and Theo, while Rishal and I saw the final Harry Potter film together. Caroline and I admired Matt and Laura’s new flat in Balham, Saoirse and I saw the Out Of This World exhibition at the British Library, and Robert returned from America for an excellent Corrib reunion. Also, in the category of ‘things I managed to miss out on until now’, my boss bought me my first jägerbomb!
Talking of ‘firsts’, Paul’s Stag Night was in August, where we all discovered Joshua’s violent masochist side during paintballing. I caught up with several people I see rarely – lunch with Ellie, traditional ‘how are you?’ drinks in The Island with Harriet – and once again stole Oliver’s air bed one weekend. Saoirse made amazing gnocchi for her dinner party – during which, so far as I remember, we actually avoided violent argument about the riots – and the days were generally long and warm enough for plenty of (Tastecard discounted ) meals out.
After a year of talking about it, it was gratifying to finally be able to hold a real, physical copy of School Wars in my hand as Melissa celebrated with not one but two book launch parties. This month there was also a memorable evening in Robert’s flat, reunions with a Irfan, Sophie and Maryam, an accidental gatecrashing of Marion’s birthday party (at which I convinced an irritating interloper that Charlotte Speechley ran BBC2) and – in competition at least for one of the geekiest activities of the year – a tour of the London Underground headquarters at 55 Broadway. Katie and I embarked on another television odyessy together – Fringe this time – and Grace and I spent a day rambling around Box Hill armed with some very precise instructions, galvanising hunger for a pub lunch and lots of goodwill. But the biggest event of September has to be Abbi and Paul’s wedding, for which we all got dressed up and then danced all night.
If you’ve been following the story of Abbi and Paul’s marriage through the months, you’ll appreciate the all-important final stage which was finally accomplished at a dinner party in October: eating off their wedding plates for the first time. With Grace gone to uni, Charlotte and I huddled in the pub to compare survival notes, though she was soon back for a weekend riverside stroll in Greenwich anyway. At work, the infamous Hell Day brought the team closer together, I had my final Tricycle visit of the year seeing Walk In The Woods for my dad’s birthday while mum, Katie and I also delighted in Matilda The Musical. And, to even more delight, this month I also unearthed my dad’s Rag and Tag stories from a rediscovered audio cassette
All of the old arguments about schools were back with a flourish one morning in early November, as Hannah and I were invited into Latymer to argue our case before a room full of students. Abbi’s birthday was celebrated with plenty of wine and cheese, Warwick student life was interrupted by me for a weekend, the indomitable Team Awesome enjoyed a heady mix of pizza and cocktails, while Simon and I laughed a lot at In Time. And not to omit a sustained Plants vs. Zombies addiction, a lovely sangria night with Lucy and Grace, finally getting Nic to North West London and the Groupon Editorial Christmas party!
OK, December deserves an apology, because it proved to be so busy that I didn’t get a chance to blog. Not once. So I never wrote about the fourth Secret Vegetarian Festive Dinner (complete with masks and an erotic reading of What A Duke Wants), finally seeing The Ides of March, the happy night in the Chamberlayne with Grace, Charlotte, Alex and Rosie, or even the surprisingly amazing company-wide Christmas party in Shoreditch. I didn’t get to rave about Black Mirror, tell you the story of how I ended up carrying Arwen’s fish home on the Tube at midnight, be quietly chuffed about the Editorial Awards, or thank Ellie for hosting an exceptional Christmas dinner (& drinking games) for us all. There was also lots of family stuff (as befits the season): my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, deciding to watch The Godfather, Christmas Day itself – with a narrow victory for my team in the all-important quiz! – and a lovely day trip to Suffolk to see the other half of the family.
Oh, and Grace and I also embarked on an ambitious project to watch all of Buffy… but with only four episodes down so far, that’s really a journey for another time.
Happy New Year to everyone!