Tag Archives: New Year!

It’s The Great 2014 Round-Up!

Photo copyright of Gunnar Guðjónsson

Photo copyright of Gunnar Guðjónsson

This year has been an extraordinary one. A corker. There have been some ups and downs, some round-a-bouts, a see-saw, one of those wheel-of-death jobbies with the motorbikes. I may be getting carried away with myself a bit here, but trust me, it’s been that kind of year.

I’ve traveled more in 2014 than I think I have done in all the years leading up to it – Normandy and Iceland and Paris and New York – with friends where I could, alone if not, in love where possible.

I saw the northern lights with a group of strangers outside a porter-cabin hotel in the Icelandic highlands, and spent an hour under the dancing lights, smiling until the wind had chilled my teeth to a painful hum. The aurora borealis is the sort of thing that makes you want to hug the person next to you or tell someone you love them, and to see it alone was a bittersweet thing, but perhaps it was right. Was it eerie, my friends asked when I came home – was it weird? Gunnar, our guide, had explained earlier that day that the aurora, just like the volcanoes that loomed on every horizon, was a sign that the earth was healthy and alive. A planet without tectonics is a planet that is dead.

But even so, there was nothing remotely eerie about the lights. They were beautiful, and magnetic – they pulled us from our beds to stand in the frozen midnight air, miles from home. It felt….significant. It felt like a sign. Good things, dancing there in front of me. Good things, pole-to-pole. Maybe I’m naive, and hopeful, with a leaning towards sweeping spiritual statements, but I don’t think that matters. Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, maybe the act of hoping is as good as getting what you’re hoping for. Maybe.

2014 was also significant – for you all I’m sure – as my thirtieth year on this planet. I know, I know, my youthful face and collection of Doctor Who toys make me seem much younger. But it’s true: thirty bloody years old. I suppose I can concede that I feel more like an adult now than I ever have before, but, that’s not really saying that much, is it?

This year I dabbled in the mucky world of Tinder, briefly. Dating often made me feel like a lone lost astronaut in an alien world, where I understood neither the rules nor the reason for them (“So…okay…you might reply to my text messages – three days later, yep, okay – but we mustn’t speak on the phone? We can have sex with each other….but we mustn’t be facebook friends? O…okay….”). The whole thing ended not with a bang but with a whimper, like a sad little fart in a next-door room. But out from my slightly pathetic foray into the world of internet dating came the desire to keep the momentum going, after years of professional dust-gathering on the shelf. I’d been hammered into shape by this point: I understood that love was about feeling constantly afraid and unsure and unattractive, it was about compromise and hiding, little bits of yourself shoved down the back of the sofa and under the carpet, control underwear and pretence and omission.

Most of all, it was the finger-wagging voice in your ear telling you you can’t have everything, you know.

Until, of course it wasn’t.

This year I’ve learned that love can still be terrifying, but instead of the lost, confused wandering of before, it’s a joyfully overwhelming thing. It’s free-wheeling headlong down a hill on a bike, someone with you, sat on your handlebars – you hurtle along, neither of you ever really knowing how high this hill is or if you’ll crash horribly at the bottom or land safely in a life you’ve built together along the way. And that’s it, isn’t it? You can never really know, no one can, but it’s the trying, that’s the thing. That’s all any of us want, surely? Someone to say they’ll try with us.

And now I’m with someone I would never have expected. Who knows what will happen, and it’s not perfect (living 3000 miles apart is a little inconvenient) and neither are we, but sometimes I look at him and marvel, because it seems as though someone stuck a pipette in my ear and sucked him right out of my brain when I wasn’t looking, three-piece suit and fedora and all.

And of course I haven’t really learned anything about love, because this is the first time I’ve known it, and it comes in many guises, and I’m only thirty. Perhaps when I’m old and grey and eighty I’ll know, or perhaps I won’t.

A week or two before I went on the first date with him, and began the slow, tentative process of falling in love, I wrote a piece about what I wanted in a man and published it on this blog. If I was going to be picky I had a long list of qualities, ending in his looking exactly like the actor Kit Harrington. But I wasn’t being picky, I didn’t want to be picky. I just wanted someone kind. Well, I think I’ve found that. And as he recently told me after coming back with our drinks in a soho pub. “I just stood next to him at the bar. That guy from Game of Thrones. You know, your boyfriend. And I’m taller than him.”

So, suck it, Kit Harrington. I’m off the market.

FUCKING FINALLY.

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2013! Keep the change, ya filthy animal!

I can’t really complain. 2013 wasn’t too bad: I wasn’t admitted to hospital once, I didn’t lose my job or get framed for a crime I didn’t commit. However, I also didn’t win the lottery, become the lifetime face of Galaxy chocolate thereby furnishing me with a lifetime supply of Galaxy chocolate, or marry Michael Fassbender, so in summary, 2013 was a total bust.

Nothing much happened to me, but I did make a lot of stuff happen, which is probably better. I went on my first proper grown up holiday all by myself. I sang blues in a band.  I bleached my hair and lost a bit of weight, purely to see if I could, and I liked it, and I felt good. Being blonde is strange – people behave in a different way towards you, which makes you behave differently, and on and one, which is all just a bit strange. Builders and weird men are a lot more shouty, people look at you more, though I’m not sure if that’s something that people assume about blondes or the fact that a girl with short blonde hair and black eyebrows stands out a bit more, and also looks a tiny bit more like Miley Cyrus. And no, it’s not annoying at all when people point that out.

New York was a short but incredible experience. Sick of waiting around for someone to go on holiday with, either amongst my dwindling pool of single friends or one of those mythical  “boy-friend” creatures everyone keeps banging on about, I decided to just do it myself. What’s the worst that could happen? Many things, my compulsively anxious, pteromerhanophobic brain supplied. But none of them actually happened, thank jeebus.

Traveling alone is a funny thing, equal parts soaring pride and bitter-sweetness. New York is amazing, as I’m sure you all know, but every time I saw or did something amazing I wanted to turn to the person next to me and say “Wasn’t that amazing?! But there was no one there. Well, there were thousands of people there, but I was too scared and British to speak to them.

Work has been a funny old thing this year too: it was pretty heartbreaking to leave the studio building I’d worked in for the past 5 and a half years, and even more so to leave the people I’ve worked with for that time too. But our studio went on hiatus, and I was installed in an attic office for one, like Miss Haversham surrounded by mouldering Peppa Pig merchandise. Saying that, I actually love my little office, and my job, and even all the Peppa Pig merchandise which is not in the slightest bit mouldy. Working alone has its low points: the most human contact I usually have in a day is with the night security guard on the desk downstairs, whose name I don’t know but have decided is probably called Marcel, and who sometimes tells me to have a nice evening in a lovely, avuncular security guard sort of way. But on the plus side, I get to sing along to questionable music choices without fear of mockery, and generally just get on with shit. I am master of my domain. Unless my bosses pop in or shit gets heavy, in which case I am merely the caretaker of my domain.

I’ve drawn a lot more this year, developing my style and the sort of things I want to draw. I’ve met some great people on Twitter (another result of minimal human contact on any given day) and some cool people in real life too. I’ve been commissioned for some great little jobs (which reminds me I’ve got to do my buggering tax return) and got to work on some pretty cool projects in my day job too (Peppa Pig Big Egg Hunt egg! Peppa Pig stamp!)

2014 is shaping up too: in an attempt to see me through the post-Christmas slump I’m planning a trip to Iceland (can’t decided between summer or later in the year, to hopefully catch the Northern Lights). I’ve got a couple of projects in the pipe-line, fingers crossed. And who knows what else?

If anyone knows Michael Fassbender, give him my number, yeah?

Remember the old, ring in the new.

Bloody hell – 2013 eh? A year so fantastically futuristic sounding that if we don’t get a move on and invent hover-boards, jetpacks and brain implanted wifi for all (incidentally, my political manifesto) by the end of the year I think the Scientists will need to sit down and have a long, hard think about their behaviour.

But I want to look back at 2012 now, which in itself has been a pretty incredible year. It feels to me as though it’s sped by, but I think that’s just because I’ve packed it full of adventures, new people, and 7-day working weeks. Not that I’m complaining at all: this year I had the unutterably joy of walking in to a bookshop and picking up a book with my illustrations in it. Of course this was then followed by a titanic inner-struggle against the overwhelming desire to shout at the poor till-worker that those there are my drawings! Mine! I know, right?! People have started paying me for that! SO COOL!

GR_HIRES_MichaelCaineWEB

Michael Caine, for Andy Nyman’s book The Golden Rules of Acting.

Then there was the fulfillment of the last of two of my childhood fantasies (practical ones, I’ve realised that the chance of me actually becoming Indiana Jones at this late stage are minimal) when I got to be a bridesmaid to my best friend Bridget at her wedding. Now I just have ‘Be an angel in a nativity play’ to check off the list and I can put those ghosts to rest. But that won’t ever happen, because I was an unfortunate looking child, and am, despite trying, still not blonde, so don’t fit the requirements. (If you’re interested, I was the Narrator. Every. Fucking. Time).

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I also ended up at the Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 2 European premiere, but that’s not really something to shout about. In fact, even though the tickets were free I still feel as though I should be due some kind of remuneration for this. I also did a bit of proper catwalk modeling (for the gorgeous Vivien of Holloway), which was terrifyingly fun, but for which I’m sure the entire audience are also now seeking remuneration.

Then there was the Jubilee, which I – being a ’50s obsessed Royalist sissy-girl with a penchant for bunting- enjoyed hugely.

And of course, 2012 was also the year that we all discovered we actually gave a shit about sport. Being a London resident I of course was fully of the view, prior to the event, that the Olympics were nothing but an excuse for the owners of multi-billion dollar companies to add yet more extensions on to their gold-plated money museums, because I read the Metro and spend a lot of time on twitter, which is often where optimism goes to die. In the run-up, London felt awfully like a grim place where brand-nazi Death Eaters would swoop down with a well-aimed avada kedavra if you even dared to mention, or think of the O-Word, or utter the name of Lord Seb ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’ Coe.  But once the opening ceremony began I, streaming it slowly and pixellated on my phone whilst on the train to Cardiff, was besotted. After all, how could anyone not be utterly charmed by an army of Mary Poppins’ drifting down to battle the Child-Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Or the Queen parachuting into the stadium with James Bond? In your face, organised sport event haters!

I’m sure everyone has something to say about the Olympics, and something that will say it more eloquently than I ever could, but the opening ceremony itself seemed to sum it up so well: it’s great to finally feel that you can be patriotic without needing to be reminded of all the crap that the Empire, the government and our rulers have committed over the centuries. Danny Boyle’s ceremony showcased some of the pretty awesome stuff that people from Britain have done. And flying in the face of Mitt Romney’s “what have the British ever contributed to the world?” comment, we could stand up and say, hey, you misogynistic backwoods twat-face, ever heard of Shakespeare? Elgar? A little something called the Industrial Revolution? Votes for Wom….yeah actually it sounds as though you haven’t actually heard of that one.

And there followed seventeen days of drama, pride, victory and defeat, underdogs and Usain ‘It’s in the bag’ Bolt. People from all walks of life who’ve defied odds, trained, grafted and slaved towards their goals. Men and women with healthy bodies who achieved incredible feats after a life spent striving towards that moment. Which was why it was so disappointing to close the whole shebang with a closing ceremony showcasing the “best” of British. If you take “best” to mean a bunch of alien-thin supermodels famous for embodying the wholly disgusting term “heroin chic” and beating up employees, and the  Spice Girls, precariously balanced atop swerving mini-coopers. Back to reality, eh?

And with the closing of the phenomenal Paralympics it was like being suddenly dumped by all of the sports at once. London ceased to be a quiet, largely traffic-free sunny city with a kind of camaraderie and tender affection for tourists from across the globe, and went back to being the grumpy, bleak city that we all know and love. But, as my Grandmother affectionately barked at me after my ex and I broke up, “Get used to it Jemima, it won’t be the last time!”.

Thanks Grandma, and thanks Seb Coe. Better to have loved and lost the Olympics than to never have loved them at all. And unlike my previous relationship, I’m pretty sure this time the feeling was mutual.

So 2013, sitting there all new and shiny, fat with possibilities – you better step it up and bring those hoverboards if you’re going to even hope to compete.

2011 roundup!

Sitting here in my parent’s spare room, with my head crooked slightly to the side and a heat pack strapped to my neck, was not exactly the way I intended to see in the New Year. For the first time I was planning to spend it in London with friends, watching the fireworks and in all likelihood getting a little bit drunk and an awful lot maudlin, as I am wont to do on New Year’s Eve.

But my body has other ideas, and so with the most painful pulled muscle I’m sure anyone in the world has ever experienced ever, (but don’t worry, I’m suffering in silence…) I’m spending a rather quieter one, at home with my parents and younger brother, in a gloomier-than-usual mid-Wales.

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to be more grateful for the wonderful luck, opportunities, experiences and friends each year brings me (corny but true) – and to take stock and pat myself on the back a bit more – a difficult thing in my current physical predicament, but one that I can do through this post.

This year is my fourth in London. I have a good job that I love, working with great people, a nice flat and nice people to live there with. I’ve achieved a lot, but there’s a lot more to do. This year I worked on my first stage production, creating hats for the costumes and helping out with the wardrobe. Oh, and it was in Cyprus too, which was pretty cool. Or you know, swelteringly hot.

This year I fell in love with a small group of islands off the coast of Scotland, where beneath everyone’s back garden lies a neolithic structure and the climate passes through the entire weather-spectrum in 12 hours but where the winds never, ever cease.

This year I challenged myself to pick up and play a new instrument – the accordion – another love-affair which is in all likelihood unrequited, but of which I am quite happy.

I’ve also spent pretty much 60% of this year on twitter – a good and bad thing at the same time, but one I’ve enjoyed immensely. I’ve met new friends, like-minded people, been inspired to start new projects, read new books, go to new places, and also to strive to be quicker, funnier, wittier. I’ve experienced natural disasters the other side of the globe, the toppling and the executions of dictators through this strange network of people, faces illuminated by computer screens and iphones, fingers weaving sarcastic one-liners and pithy punchlined hashtags. And more mundane things, but just as amazing: a golden sunset-drenched set on a Glastonbury stage watched through my television, and experienced through twitter and a thousands-strong virtual congregation.

And the highlight of my year – the Children’s BAFTAs, which I’ve droned on about in great detail already so will just say it was pretty damn brilliant.

So tonight when Jools has hootenannyed himself hoarse, the champagne’s all been drunk and I’m in bed trying to to find a position to lie in that doesn’t cause a burst of agony in my entire right side, I’ll try to think not of the things I don’t have, the opportunities I’ve missed or the stupid things I’ve done or said, but of a year that was pretty brilliant, in the end – and of a year that will hopefully be better.