Dominic’s Big Review of 2011

Annual Review

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…

January
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.

Sunny California: this was my Februrary

Sunny California: this was my Februrary

February
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.

March
Tugging me back home, though, was a 2022 (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.

April
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

May
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.

June
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.

@giantlawnmower; @reddalek

@giantlawnmower; @reddalek

July
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!

August
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.

September
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.

October
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

November
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!

Our Site Editing team

Our Site Editing team

December
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!

In a lazy moment I solicited any stalkers on Twitter to write the annual review for me. Result: “Amber’s birthday was really good, and so were the times I bumped into Marion and Amber in the park… the rest of 2010 wasn’t very memorable, think I did some sleeping and maybe some eating and maybe some work.” Sounds fine by me, so what follows is simply padding…

January
The return of the midnight pillow fight: it could only be SexFest X, the fifth year of our traditional New Year party. Aside from that, London was mostly… snowy. Up in Cambridge it was all HAP mock exams and political thought, although this did introduce me to my bff Hume. Aside from work, Andrew made some delicious cocktails, we inadvertently turned ice-cream into milkshake due to the lack of any freezer, and at an Emma formal hostilities nearly broke out against a certain totalitarian porter. (I CAN HEAR YOU LAUGHING…)

February
This month, when I should have been working late into the night, I was instead making a computer game for Oliver’s birthday. Well, that or e-mailing Father Alexander – an act that earned me a personal condemnation from the pulpit and, naturally, eternal pride. I also wound up temporarily trapped in Newnham college, was introduced to the glory that is Shark Attack 3 and (rather excitingly) got to interview Ken Livingstone for Varsity. Didn’t give me a job, though…

Plenty of looking up to him this year

Plenty of looking up to him this year

March
After many months of stressful planning, the annual Caius History Society Dinner (plus after-party!) organised by me and Abi went off splendidly, thank goodness. Also featuring before the end of term was finally getting to a Formal at Catz with Promise, playing Lego Rock Band (very badly) at Bill’s, Alice in Wonderland (disappointing) and some fancy certificates from Oliver. In the holidays Lucy and I went to Edinburgh, witnessing one woman make contact with a ghost in the underground city. My family also marched into the future with a shiny new TV, Sanna and I went to court (visiting…) and Saoirse, DF and I got to play in Launchpad. But also in March came sad news: my Nana’s death after very many years.

April
Every generation needs a myth: an epic story of adventure, daring and romance to mark our deepest hopes and our darkest fears. Into the absence of anything like that stepped Lord Imhotep (technically born in the dying hours of March, but who’s being fussy?) – a creation sparked by a single piece of spam e-mail but which quickly spiralled into one of the best pieces of time-wasting ever devised. There was even a dramatic reading at my dinner party, once Sanna got her hands rescued from the kitchen cabinet. Before I went back for my final term of uni I also got to meet Paul over sangria and tapas, plus Promise and Sophia both made it to dinner with the Selfs. But after that, it was mostly revision… (and bowling. And voting.)

May
Ah, yes, May. Nothing happened in May. Well, OK, so there was this election thing – we stayed up with red and yellow cocktails and swore at George Osborne a lot – followed by days of worthy-sounding procrastination from revision whilst I checked to see if we had a government yet. And actually, there was also my favourite film of the year – Four Lions – which was a very lovely evening altogether too. Some great Matt Smith, too. But after lots of practice exams and reading and note-taking and revision supervisions and lunching with fellow historians and pre-exam tea evenings with Sophie, my attention was rather taken by the start of my finals: beginning, of course, with the infamous HAP. (Historical Argument and Practice, allow me to remind you. When people say I’m argumentative, I feel I have some legitimate excuses…)

June
And then they were done! I finished my exams, which became even more of a watershed moment as Lucy and I broke up (without any drama ) around the same time too. The rest of June was therefore a blur of celebration, goodbyes and amazingness. Plenty of bad films with Simon, a final drinking session with the Themes & Sources gang – before Andrew ditched us all! – and not one but two May Balls. First Trinity, for which I owe Sophie a huge debt of gratitude, and then Caius the next night, which was made extra-special by getting Joshua to don a suit and come along to. Then down to London for my birthday, where I turned 21 at some point during crazy pub dancing with some of the greatest people on earth. (We got the top deck of the night bus singing that night.) Back in Cambridge there was just time for some G&Tea in Newnham gardens before the Graduation Night dinner and, the next day, Graduation itself. Busy busy! I even got to speak at Tash’s Sixth Form graduation, too

Cambridge: the end!

Cambridge: the end!

July
Towards the beginning of this month I got my slightly belated but utterly incredible birthday present from Oliver and Abi: my very own handmade board game (which rocks kitten socks). We played this quite a bit in July. I also debated at the QPCS Summer Fair under the guise of a ‘parent’ (hah), watched the World Cup final for the first time with the whole family (shocking), wrote a Comic Sans horror story and celebrated Saoirse’s 17th birthday with a scrumptious pic-a-nic in Green Park. Also in July, Bill Thompson took me on a very cool day around the BBC, I saw Matt and Caroline quite a bit – inlcluding for Inception – and Maryam and Jules kindly volunteered their time to get me into Converses. Not forgetting Alice’s birthday party, Sophie’s visit, seeing Matthew again, another year of working for the Queens Park summer school and the fabulous PuntCon!

August
Back to Croatia this year with my parents and Katie for some hardcore sun, sea, sand, cocktails, rafting, banana boating, Mighten Tighten Vighten and, ur, Lord of the Rings reading. Next it was Deal with Oliver, Abi and Helen, which I remember chiefly for Totoro, Ring of Fire and the acute dangers posed by candles to hair. Two really lovely holidays, though, followed by a little dinner party gathering at Abbi and Paul’s, Back To The Future and the unearthing of some more cool family videos from way back. And at the end of the month, Tash left for Paris…

September
Excitingly, in September I started working as a researcher for Melissa Benn and her upcoming book on British schools: a really great project, and something I’ve been incredibly lucky to get to do for the rest of the year. Not least because there’s been plenty of time for other things too! Time for Caroline’s memorable dinner party, for instance, an evening of Ghostbusters with Joshua or the thrilling finale of Battlestar Galactica with Katie. There was also a great night in Camden as we bid farewell to Robert for his year in California, a trip to Churchill’s bunker with mum for Open House London, a lovely evening in the pub with my dad and Jamie Buxton and – ssshh – the return of guilty pleasure Merlin. Also worthy of note was the very warm-spirited day a group of us had on the Protest The Pope march (once we’d run away from the anarchists). And not forgetting my special appearance on TriNoetic, seeing Josh Ritter with Oliver, meeting up with Owen again (for one night only!) and an exhaustingly good day pedalling across the Serpentine (amongst much else) with Simon and co. Phew.

October
It took me years to get round to it, but I finally saw Avenue Q this month, shortly before it moved on. I also discovered News Revue via Joshua, and loved it so much that we went back as a family for dad’s birthday shortly afterwards. October was also the month of [drumroll] Amber’s 18th birthday party, which was great in its own right (naturally) but also as the founding night of Geek Corner: a quartet of me, Saoirse, Alex and Grace which has proved surprisingly durable. (Our obsession with Psychic TV began shortly afterwards.) I also spent a wonderful couple of days visiting Tash and Beth in Paris, including a whole day of Disneyland joy! Not to be outdone, Katie and I had a superb book-splurging doughnut-guzzling geeky day out (including bumping into Noel Clarke in Forbidden Planet) and I went to Bradford to be reunited with the irreplaceable Andy Kings. Oh, and I dispensed many a trick-or-treat gift from behind a mask on Halloween, too.

November
A dinner party at the Benn Gordons for me, Promise and Saoirse meant lots of warm QPCS chat, and there was unsurprisingly plenty more school talk in November at the Comprehensive Future meeting I tagged along to. I got to see the lovable Irfan again, watched Polly Toynbee pass her verdict on New Labour with Caroline and was introduced to Mary Wollstonecraft in, ur, person. (Long story…) Also had a great time at Abbi and Paul’s engagement party, headed back to Cambridge for a weekend to catch up with loads of people and hosted a rather giant dinner party! (Oh, and took a homeless man for coffee, which is one way of making you feel grateful for a warm bed every night.)

A few of the most important people

A few of the most important people

December
December: the greatest-hits compilation month for the year! So more snow, more Geek Corner (Heathers, In The Loop and a great deal else), more school work (plus an unsolicited essay to Anthony Seldon, poor man), more Matt and Caroline (including the Unspeakable Incident), more catching up with old friends (Rishal and Harriet in particular), more dinner parties with Secret Festive Vegetarian Dinner 3 and much more family. Yes, December means Christmas, and – wonderfully – Christmas means family. Our cousin Jamie was over from the States this month, and just after Christmas it was a real pleasure to have our cousin Julie and her son Kieron down from Suffolk. (We packed an awful lot of London in, including a very entertaining Camden night out with Joshua and Niamh and some impromptu participation in a crazy street performance on the South Bank. Fun times.)

Tonight, tradition meets innovation: SexFest On Tour. Happy 2011, one and all!

Short of time? Next year, don’t bother to read the blog… you can always wait for the grand and over-stuffed review of the year.

January
Traditions, traditions! SexFest ’09 may have innovated by ditching pillows for balloons this year but was otherwise its usual big, bold and thoroughly mad self. The month it inaugurated, however, was unusually bumpy and stressful: Themes & Sources nearly gave all of us at uni a collective nervous breakdown, whilst Lucy and I broke up… but more of this later, in a happier month. And there were still plenty of good things, naturally! Like meeting Niamh for the first time, gathering around the radio to listen to Obama’s inauguration, Tash coming to visit and see Milk, starting political thought (yes, really ), luring others into coming to Caius formal and [drumroll, please] joining Twitter!

February
In amongst the snow, Lucy and I got back together so all was well again! (Plus I ended up trying to read Aquinas on a packed train trudging across the country.) Meanwhile in February, I was shadowed around Cambridge by an eager Sixth Former in a reversed echo of three years earlier, Oliver received his EMPEROR t-shirt (don’t ask) and we all saw the feel-good Slumdog Millionaire, plus enjoyed the second History Society dinner. Oh, and Thomas Hobbes and I like totally clicked.

2009: full of good food and great people

2009: full of good food and great people

March
So many lovely March evenings: Peggle and music with Abbi, vanilla tea and absurdist theatre with Sona, Crisis Control and Darkplace with Lucy, Watchmen with everybody. As term ended I finally got round to doing a lot of things I should have done much earlier, like go swimming with Abi in the pool right opposite where we lived, pin down Bill Thompson for lunch and fall in love with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Once home there was just about time to chill out in the Blues Bar – and let loose a new and improved Feed Mix on the world – before Lucy and I were off a procession of carefully timed trains to the Yorkshire countryside and the picturesque Crakehall Watermill! Whereupon, on the final day of March, I fulfilled my central aim in life by visiting a cheese factory.

April
We continued to Leeds – eating (slow) pizzas with Andy, visiting the best ‘art’ gallery ever and enjoying The Tempest – before coming home in time for me to make Robert’s warm, cosy and well-catered dinner party. In April we also crowned Oliver champion as my dream of Peggle ‘n’ Pizza became a reality, whilst I rode the DLR, got round to visiting the Lexi, took the plunge in watching Twilight and ended up quite unexpectedly immersed in a piece of pub-based theatre one night with Sanna’s family. Once term started, however, it was back to the rather less relaxed world of revision, not-doing-revision-when-you-were-supposed-to and talking-about-both.

May
In May I saw what was possibly my film of the year, In The Loop, and got more in the real-life loop vis-à-vis the ever-wonderful Sophie. There was also waffle consumption with Sanna, State of Play, middle-class Monopoly with Kat, and what was possibly my runner-up film of the year, Star Trek. Twice . Andrew’s politics dinner brought the opportunity to ask Cornelius about ‘happiness lessons’; Space Mutiny (the film of my life) brought the dastardly Kalgan and his wicked plots, whilst my mum just about reached middle-age, @billt talked code and I was executed by a pair of stormtroopers. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, exams began…

June
…and ended, early on in June, thereby ending History Part I. (Helping us all stay alive to this point, incidentally, was the irreplaceable, irrepressible and quite incredible Heather.) One of the coolest of the many things that came next in celebration mode was seeing Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot: awesome, naturally, but lovely also just for seeing Helen Hudspith again. And then, after the birthday meals, after my acquisition of London Underground underwear, a geeky geometry t-shirt, a Nic Parkes mug and a damn cool hat, after short films and buskers at the Lexi, Karoo Moose with Abbi at the Tricycle, Auto-Tune the News and – indeed – Part I results (2:1!) we set off for the Best Week Of 2009… Newquay!

Newquay!

Newquay!

July
So yes. After Newquay, July heralded an emotionally intense week of Torchwood, the weird and wonderful Psychoville, a trip to St Paul’s with bonus marvelling at glass lifts with Sanna, sights-we-never-expected-to-see in Brüno and Saoirse’s birthday pic-a-nic. I extended the goodness of mango beer to Owen, had perplexingly bizarre phone conversations from the top of a night bus, partied to ABBA hits at Lucy’s dinner and – very excitingly – made a pilgrimage to Cadbury World. Oh, and I won the Themes & Sources essay prize! Get in

August
Another aquarium visit was organised for the beginning of August, having been such a big hit in Newquay, before mum, Katie, Lucy and I spent a couple of days in Liverpool: home of the world’s prettiest church (or not). It ain’t summer without a theme park, however – here’s to you, Drayton Manor! – or a family summer holiday, the latter provided by Devon which also gave us a tall(ish) waterfall, scary looking sheep and the opportunity for me to understand at least 50% more references online by watching Fight Club. I also saw The Tempest, again, but with a more-awesome Caliban, and wrote my most popular blog post of the year in statistical terms (by miles) just by being a bit sarky to James Murdoch. But you don’t have to do anything very fancy to have a great time… in fact, one of my fondest memories from the summer is lying on the golf course one night in Queen’s Park, catching up with Matthew and looking up at the stars.

September
September was music month, at least by my rather limited standards. Not only did Abbi gift me tickets for not one but two gigs – Jack’s Mannequin and Twin Atlantic – but there was also Sanna’s melodious chrismation. (Sealed!) No singing in Troilus and Cressida that I remember, but that was also really, really good. Meantime, never far from food and drink, I assisted Lucy in the preparation of a delicious brunch for Abbi and her mum, got totally outclassed by dinner party host extraordinaire Andy, lunched with Philippa, snacked with Nic & Nick2 and went all over the place in the hunt for plentiful food and drink on the day of Saoirse’s rather mobile gathering. But I’m not just a consumer: I also gave blood for the first time in September, too!

October
I got a wonderful chance in early October to relive A-Level English with Ms. Rupchand and Mr. Buchanan, before it was finally time to head back to uni to begin my third and final (!) year. Having admired Lucy’s new house in Brighton I was similarly delighted with my own living arrangements, which finally put me right in the centre of town. And then it was back to work, often in my snug new Caius hoodie, albeit with plenty of distractions and interludes: the wit and wisdom of Ben Stein, the wonder of Windows 7, Merlin and True Blood, swapping halls with Simon, Chris and other Emmanuel folk, swapping blog writing duties with Sanna, Lucy coming to cook us all up a storm, the discovery of the fabled Enchanted Lands of Friendship as well as Katie coming to visit! And the perfect way to enjoy Halloween? Why, Buffy’s Once More, With Feeling, of course.

Some things go knock in the night…

Some things go knock in the night…

November
The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus came and went as a little ethereal delight; Trinity, on the other hand, could have staggered for a great deal longer if Owen and I hadn’t seen sense and pulled the plug after two episodes. November was NaNoWriMo month, of course, which meant a new slice of Abbi’s heartbreaking novel each morning to read. (More heartbreak was to come with the death of Mr. Bruul, incidentally.) There were also fireworks (but no fairground rides) with Oliver and Abi, a great night in various pubs with Lucy, Simon, Chris, Rob and more and lots of Flight of the Conchords and tea with Owen. I fought (and beat) the Evil Beep Of Doom, rufffed it up at Tom’s birthday party and finally got to a Superhall and a Footlights panto as well as producing my absolute life’s masterwork in Sophie’s birthday video, which was also celebrated with an extravagantly generous meal. Oh, and let’s not forget Caroline’s CUCA dinner

December
Home, for a suitably relaxing Christmas! Well, that’s what I might have thought, although it soon transpired that my parents had morphed into crime-fighting action heroes with the scars to prove it. I can’t compete, naturally, but I can bake a chocolate cake (alright, with led by Lucy), enjoy mango beer with Sophie and neglect work in favour of parties (Secret Vegetarian Festive etc. etc.), pub gigs (snowy snowy Archway), one utterly inexplicable festive something at the Globe and, of course, Christmas itself! Geeky though it might be, let it be noted for the record that December also saw the end of Windows XP in this house: we live in the future, now Oh, and talking of which, Katie has very kindly agreed to show me the entirity of the magnificent Battlestar Galactica over the course of the next year…

Wishing everyone a quite fantastic 2010

You guessed it: it’s time for the long-established (this being the third year ) review of the year! So, what on earth happening during 2008?

Never-before-seen dancing!

Never-before-seen dancing!

January
New Year’s SexFest ’08 at Joshua’s was the biggest yet – no doubt helped by the beautiful sponsorship banners which Lucy and I created for the event. The rest of the holiday was spent with the greatest people in the world attempting but failing to play The War On Terror board game and watching the powerful film The Kite Runner. Back in Cambridge I danced to Dale’s Supermarket Sweep with Sophie and started Themes and Sources classes which, for all their stresses, did introduce me to lasting friends Andrew (“Andreas!”), Matt (“If we’re honest…”) and Caroline (“your token Tory”). But January was also a sad month: my Grandad died, although his funeral was a fitting tribute to a long life.

February
In the Cambridge bubble we had our amazingly scrumptious History Society Dinner which was also probably one of the first proper chats I had with Abi. Lucy and I had our second anniversary, Saoirse visited and was forced to sign a form at the University Library promising that she wouldn’t learn anything and I freaked a few people out (slightly) by beating myself up when the Internet was down. Oh, and I got married to Sophie! This month I also saw the crazed Stephen Green, the slightly mad Nigel Farage and the very sane Sir Richard Dearlove speak. Meanwhile, in the real world, the word ‘nationalisation’ returned to the scene: cue heady excitement and frequent pleas for the railways to be next.

March
March began with a pheromone test, dinner with mum and everyone blogging photos of their desks. Term was winding down by this point and we spent evenings playing with Jenga bricks, sonic screwdrivers and *laughs* Dungeons and Dragons – the latter clearly a singular aberration. And then I was back in London again, where a totally different kind of life instead demanded Jenga Truth or Dare, Junior Pictionary and bubble mixture. Lucy and I also invented (for ourselves at any rate) the Tube game – hurrah for South Acton! – and had The 39 Steps (not) ruined by a giant brass bar. I also went unsuccessfully ice-skating with Oliver and Abi (gulp) but danced highly successfully with Scott at Josie’s 18th. But perhaps March will best be remembered by one great discovery above all others… I speak, of course, of the mighty Peggle.

April
Ah, April, the month in which I tried my very best to get Ken Livingstone re-elected by handing out leaflets, phoning up people in Kew, pushing leaflets through doors and even persuading Saoirse to help! Meanwhile, 2008 proved to be the year of the dinner party with Abbi hosting April’s great get-together. My mum and I rekindled our geek visit tradition with the London Transport Museum and the Royal Courts of Justice whilst Lucy and I ate fudge in Stratford upon Avon. Then: Easter term began with the terrifying prospect of a mock exam quiz (thanks, Sophie!) but also the amazing surprise of Oliver and Abi’s beautiful Dalek cookies. This was also the month in which we finally all went punting together and – slightly momentously – I actually cast my first proper vote in an election. Would democracy turn out to be any good?

May
No, no it would not! May opened with the installation of Mayor Boris; true recovery from this event still eludes me even after the subsequent evenings of wine, ice cream and Doctor Who in its aftermath as well as comfort-buying a new phone. In fact, come to think of it, this was also the month that of the Sainsbury’s ID outrage, the stolen pizza (lest we forget!) and another wrong-headed final of The Apprentice. Did anything good happen? Well, naturally, as Abi and I reached our creative peak in choosing to spend our History Society budget on little badges. Yay

Fun at the Ball

Fun at the Ball

June
By contrast June was a very happy time: the final weeks of my first year of uni went by in a warm haze of picnics and barbecues – and the Caius May Ball was one of the most amazing nights of my life. A couple of days later it was my 19th birthday and amidst all the generous gifts was Oliver and Abi’s beautiful dartboard of hate figures, something which really touched me given all the effort that went into making it, as well as Lucy’s highly addictive Underground board game which subsequently saw much play. I also visited Worcester, went on an joint expedition to sample the delights of the Shoreham Village Fête in Joe’s village and – one afternoon on a Hampstead Heath picnic – found in Sanna and Saoirse willing companions to launch the brilliant Book Club.

July
I started an important journey in July: to finally watch the original Star Wars trilogy. Properly. And so I did, but there were plenty of other distractions too – Abbi’s Dirty Pirate Hooker Party, the Waseley Prom, Barrie Birch’s leaving do featuring memorable live teacher performances, swimming in the Hampstead Heath ponds and visiting Andrew in Cambridge for some delicious hot dogs and – naturally – plenty of wine. And those films and plays: The Dark Knight, Midnight & Magnolias at the Tricycle and ‘Best Film Ever’ The Forbidden Kingdom. I finally got my cheesy photo with Ken at the supporters’ party – bring on 2012! – and even managed to do my usual stint of work (actual paid work ) for the UCL summer school. Hurrah!

August
Aw – the family summer holiday is far from dead and this year was spent relaxing in Croatia with a week each in Korcula and Dubrovnik. This was also the month of A2 results for Lucy, Josie, Nic, Andy (and the rest!) as well as GCSEs for Natasha – all well deserved. Mamma Mia was in cinemas, Let There Be Love played at the Tricycle and Robert took his turn to host our dinner party antics. I also spent some time with Matthew – always a pleasure – and indeed ended up sitting on the curb outside a packed pub with him and Joshua one night musing about life.

September
Others may return to school but September is still the summer for me! And rather than do coursework I carried on having fun: particularly so on the night that Natasha and I cooked huge quantities of spaghetti for everyone. That evening was a pleasurable blur although Abbi’s cheese mix CD was not only much-played but prompted the creation of my own musical compilation. Over in Warwick Lucy was traumatised by a laughing tourist at the ghost experience whilst back in London The Boy With Striped Pyjamas left us all unable to speak long after the credits rolled. I also saw Die Welle and read Bad Science, the latter of which instantly became one of my favourite books.

October
Agh, the second year already! In October I moved into Mortimer Road and discovered Merlin, the SAECULUM and wordles – not to mention managing to resurrect my beloved Ready Brek from my childhood. Peggle struck back with Peggle Nights, a chance encounter with Patrick from April’s Ken campaign led me to see Henry V and Sanna came to both visit and marvel at demi-god Magnus Ryan. Plus: I had my first ultra-late-night-essay-writing-binge.

November
Perhaps in realisation at how crazily quickly time was passing there were further visitors: my parents came up for quintessential afternoon tea with Sophia and Joshua arrived to challenge Abi to Peggle duels, eat bumper portions of waffles and take me to see The King Blues for a brilliant gig performance. Of course, there was also the night in which we all stayed up to watch Obama sweep to victory – and sweet landslide victory indeed! Russell T Davies is not quite of such worldwide importance – although he comes pretty damned close – and on an evening at the National in London he graciously signed a copy of his book for me… and Natasha, and Katie. In addition – Reindeer Post was launched, Sir Christopher Meyer spoke to Peterhouse and Pride and Privilege proved perfect entertainment for me and Sophie. Oh, and on a visit to Sussex I discovered the irreplaceable children’s classic My Mates and I!

Abi’s gift: sums me up, really

Abi’s gift: sums me up, really

December
Winter is freezing in Cambridge and doubly so if your coat lacks any buttons – but never fear, because in the final week of term there was celebration, raucous late-night beer-fuelled singing, a visit to Newnham and Doctor Zhivago with Owen’s Russian night. Back at home, Promise – who I’d happily seen a lot more of over the last term – braved the Self household to come round for dinner. Secret Tikoloshe proved loads of fun at the Secret Vegetarian Festive Dinner before Christmas came and was as lovely as Christmas always is. And in the final few days of 2008 we saw lots of family in Suffolk – hi Julie! – and Abi presented me with yet another amazing present. How can I ever repay these people?!

Well, we’ll see if I manage it in 2009 Onwards to SexFest ’09!

You never know, if I keep doing this it might become sort of tradition – yes, it’s the yearly review thingy! Again! So here’s what happened in 2007…

January
Once again, the year began at Joshua’s New Year Party (or SexFest 07, as I affectionately named it, for tongue in cheek reasons of course) with an exciting street pillow fight at midnight. A few days later, Cambridge offered me a place hurrah! January was also the month of my new(ish) phone, Uber Ninja badges, module exams and shouting ‘condoms!’ into the dark Kensal Rise night.

February
Possibly the most enduring memory for this month will be seeing my first (and quite possibly last) ventriloquist act on stage. Though that’s not all that I saw: Frost/Nixon, Hot Fuzz and Notes on a Scandal also featured. Joshua’s 18th birthday party featured the memorable case of Robert’s missing trousers, whilst at school Saoirse was baking Communist cakes, my calculator was dealing out death and we were all casting teachers as James Bond characters. Plus: mother came to Cofton!

March
Surrounded by socialists, I bravely defended fuzzy centrist politics at an SWP meeting. They were pussycats, however, compared to Joshua’s attack for closing Quote of the Day (sorry!) which I duly did anyway. Emily had a birthday picnic, and there were various stresses at school, both personal and work-related. I still came out smiling, but perhaps I spent too much time morphing Mr Kanj into Ross from Friends.

A scene from Xenophobia

A scene from Xenophobia

April
History was made, as Andy Kings visited the Self dwelling to witness Holly and Hanan direct Egdar and Ms Hook in Xenophobia, a masterpiece of film set in my bedroom! (Surreal high point of my life?) Meanwhile, ‘Da Spittings ov DALEK RED’ briefly came into existence, and this blog turned three.

May
What a month: the last of the dreaded Physics Practical exams, going to Blackpool with Lucy on a holiday beautifully organised by Nic… and the Demon Headmaster I also went to see The News Quiz being recorded, as the frantic winds of exams were just about to start…

June
Friday 8th June. My last day at school. Celebrating the event with a flurry of photos and one very strange video, it wasn’t long before A2 exams started. In case that wasn’t enough, I turned 18 – with an exam on my birthday, and a beautiful shiny laptop of joy – and then it was all over. The English groups had Literary High Tea, and the country got a new Prime Minister after 10 years of Tony Blair. Everything was changing.

July
No school, and no exams! July was an odd month, but it’s not like I did nothing: I became Carolyn’s PA, worked for the UCL Summer School again and visited Chesham for the silliest of reasons. This was also the month of the final Harry Potter, The Simpsons Movie and The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

Working hard on the Welsh beaches

Working hard on the Welsh beaches

August
Aw, our family holiday in Wales! I’m still not sure how I managed to get sunburnt, but I did. Once back, I distracted myself by revamping this very website (hello, orange!) before exam results came out on the 16th and I thankfully got what I needed for Cambridge. So, with that out of the way, I went to Brighton with Lucy where we fell in love with a ride, and later in the month was induced into the darkly competitive world of Trivial Pursuit. And exciting packages from university started to arrive! And we had picnics on the Heath! Life was good

September
To be honest, life was still very very good. I went with mum to Russia, visiting Moscow and St Petersburg in a week. Soon before, I’d seen Regina Spektor live in concert via Lucy’s birthday present, which was an amazing night. There was a Cambridge party for Freshers, and some even better goodbye parties: most of all in Camden, drinking mango beer with wonderful people. And then, at the very end of September, I left.

October
My first month at uni Filled with meeting new people, trying to get unpacked and – for the first time in months – work! I loved it, though, and was very busy but in a nicely directed way. I only left for one night, to attend Troy’s wedding, which was also lovely to be at!

Lucy and me in my room at Cambridge

Lucy and me in my room at Cambridge

November
And so term continued in a fast-paced blur: I went to see Lord Levy and Martin Bell speaking at the Cambridge Union, and also went along to debates on the Middle East and comprehensive education, the latter from which the image of Peter Hitchens has been permanently seared into my brain. Us Historians went out for birthday meals, threw juggling balls at each other and generally avoided the notorious 5th week blues until suddenly it was the end of term already!

December
Hurrah for short terms I returned home at the beginning of December, and threw myself into seeing people: Joshua was back from the jungle with exciting tales, and there was another night out in Camden; I stayed overnight at Rishal’s in Leicester, and also to the Wesley Waseley Sixth Form Christmas party… it was busy! There was also deep sadness at Kelly’s funeral, but with people that I’d also missed seeing, and I’d even missed seeing the school which I managed to sneak back into once or twice. Once again, I had a wonderful Christmas… and Joshua’s New Year’s party is only days away!

Wow, what a year bring it on, 2008!