I’ve just noticed that we are very nearly at the end of 2015 and therefore it’s time for our Review of the Year, like we always do about this time. So here it is.
2015 was a challenging year, mainly because of various business and financial crises which were directly linked to the violent crime of 2014. Despite this, it had its high points and I took some huge steps in the direction of TLYW. Let’s see what happened.
January was actually a nice month. I had just had a good Christmas. I was in love with Leroy, who I met the previous November and we were insanely into each other, so much so that I had to ask the Honcho (there’s a name we haven’t heard for a long time) to distract me. Oh yeah, and I had the roof repaired and all my windows replaced which was v, v expensive but also vitally important as it stops the rain coming in. Photo of the month: flowers from Leroy.
Tune of the month:
Daddy’s Favourite: I Feel Good Things For You (1998)
February was also delightful. I continued to have a good and very romantic relationship with Leroy and took him with me on my annual visit to Yorkshire to stay with my great friend C.
While in Yorkshire, we went to the Barbara Hepworth museum and saw some terrific Lynda Benglis sculpture.
February was also the month that I enjoyed a short business trip to Amsterdam and visited the crazy Russian doll shop.
Tune of the month:
Kid Frost: La Raza
I went on a trip to Zurich with my business partner, damn, it was beautiful. Every corner of Zurich is beautiful. Here’s a tray of golden macaroons.
We did not win the project that we went out there to win and serious trouble was brewing. It was at this point that my business partner announced his intention to leave (at the time of writing, we have still not separated and are like an unhappily-married couple). This was a major piece of news, rather a shocker, esp as I was having my own loss of faith in my career and did not know what to do next, what direction to take or how to make a living. It was very apparent to me that I needed to change my career, urgently, and that I could not carry on as I had been doing.
So that’s why I did the only sensible thing and went to a luxurious resort in Spain for two weeks where I swam, walked long distances in the sun and read business books. If you are going to be afraid and unhappy, there’s really a lot to be said for doing it on the beach and I don’t really regret that holiday at all, even though I couldn’t afford it.
Photo of the month: I had a camel ride while in Spain. I’d forgotten about that until just now.
I think I’d also split up with Leroy by this point, for reasons to do with his unreliable availability. I distinctly recall languishing around this resort and being the only single person there, the whole place was rammed with couples, mostly elderly ones because it was a resort where I was trying to avoid screaming kids (fairly successfully).
As the month began, I was still in Spain. Let’s have a shot of the beach.
The weather was amazing but I knew that my career needed emergency surgery. What I didn’t know was that, as soon as I arrived home, a major financial crisis would hit. In retrospect, it had been coming for some time, like a poorly-forecasted meteor, but April was when it hit and suddenly it looked like I might go bankrupt as well as dealing with a failing business.
I was very scared indeed. Music helped.
DJ Pied Piper: Do You Really Like It
Thanks a lot to my brother who answered ‘no’ to the question ‘can you help me out with a couple of mortgage payments if it looks like I might lose the house’. Thanks, mate. Good to know.
Fuck, I needed all of my courage that month. It was the month in which I drew a giant PLAN of my life, here it is.
What the PLAN clearly revealed to me was that I had been investing far too much time in the wrong type of work and this was causing profound dissonance and mental pain in other areas of my life, as well as a tendency to be cavalier with the business and not care that much whether I was making any money or not. It was obvious to me that the red zone on that map was inflamed and making my whole life hurt and I needed to change it or else go bust. I drew a lot of those big diagrams in April. I was not just looking for a way to pay my mortgage. I was looking for a complete and total solution, a whole new life, a better life.
War. I had to start legal action against my business partner. I was on the brink of going under financially. I still didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my career and I was considering ALL the options, every single thing I could think of. During this time, I wrote a book. It received some interest from literary agents but is currently on ice because it is a bit fucking spicy in light of career developments that came later in the year.
May was a terrifying month of stress-related anorexia and weight loss (never had that before!) and attempts to scrape together a few quid here and there, whenever possible. Oh man, it was horrible. Thanks very, very much to all of my friends who supported me emotionally.
Music: I relied heavily on U-Roy for strength and courage.
U-Roy: Your Ace From Outer Space
Well. This is the month in which it all suddenly turned around, in a different and what was to be an equally dizzying direction. You see, after 13 years of business ownership – businesses which I still own today – I suddenly applied for a job. A reasonably senior job, in the career path that I should have been on all along if I hadn’t been forced out because of financial reasons back in 2000.
And they said yes, totally against my expectations.
I was ecstatic.
And then I played hardball over the salary and there were WEEKS of meetings with senior people while I did that, and I had to use all of my courage to keep doing it, which I am now glad of because even at the top of the pay scale, they are not paying me enough.
There was no music that month. But there was gay marriage in the US, which was nice.
They eventually said yes to my salary demands.
I signed the paperwork, and in that moment I dramatically changed the course of my career and secured for myself a monthly income to live on, which I proposed to use to support myself while attempting to sort out the car-crash of my business interests, as well as generally being happier and feeling like I was doing something meaningful with my life.
Man, I could hear angels singing the day I signed that contract.
It was beautiful. The first thing I did was reinstate my Warcraft account.
A month of getting my shit together as I prepared for my new career to begin in September. I knew it was going to be a major life change. If I’d known exactly how much of a colossal life change, I would have hired a cleaner and a personal assistant but I did not know so instead I cleaned my house like a motherfucker, saw my dentist and signed up for Trello.
There was a lot of music. This ensemble reggae act was the best thing by far, you have to check out my man Andrew-I’s incredible bass voice. Absolutely outstanding live performances all round, Jah Rastafari. That right there tells me that the life force still burns strongly within me.
Dub Files All Stars: Dance Inna Babylon
The first month of my new life. The summer lingered well into September and I walked to work through beautiful parts of London.
I loved my new job to pieces and at the same time it became almost insanely demanding within 14 days. I was later capable of recognising this as resulting from a variety of factors: an amateurish and horribly mismanaged onboarding; cultural differences on both sides; various things. At the time, though, I had no explanation for what was happening. All I could see was that, on the one hand, I loved every minute of it, and on the other hand, they wanted me to deliver against a total of 60 deadlines in 12 weeks, which was basically physically impossible.
I didn’t know what to do and the deadlines were already kicking in, so I drank a gallon of coffee and got on with it. I just powered through it and fast-forwarded through the entire month on amounts of adrenaline that I’ve never experienced before. I started arriving at work at six o’clock in the morning while it was still dark, where I would go out to the smoking area while listening to dance music, smoke and full-on dance as hard as I could, right in view of all the security staff and cleaners because I had more physical energy than I knew what to do with. It was really something else. I felt super-human. My abilities exceeded the potential of my human body.
I was on fire every single day. I evangelised. We remembered to have Church.
Scratchylus feat. Kiddus I & Inna de Yard: Reset the Mindset
Deadlines still coming. Energy depleting. I realised I wasn’t going to get a day off until December. Hours per week started to climb from 60 to 80 to 90+.
Still delivering against the deadlines. Still listening to a lot of dance music because it and caffeine were the main things getting me through the day.
On the whole, I was still in a pretty happy mood. Just a bit fucking freaked out as the immense scale of what I was attempting at work continued to make its impact in every moment of my waking life.
Chrissy Ward: Right & Exact (Stonebridge Mix)
Hours per week: 97. My health pretty much collapsed at this point, migraines, etc. There was the day I attended my local hospital for pain treatment, wept in the office and begged them to take me into custody just for one day, to stop me from going to work. They wouldn’t. They told me to leave my job.
I went to bed until my headache went away, then I went back to work because what else was I gonna do. Deadlines is deadlines.
There was more dance music, it became a mode of transport. I kept delivering. At least I could see the end of the project that I was working on, it would finish at the start of December. I just had to get through the last few gruelling weeks.
The Fog: Been A Long Time (Gio’s Dope Mix)
The project ended. I was a superstar, and was rightly treated like a superstar.
Then I went home and regarded the horrifying wreckage of my flat and the even worse wreckage of both my businesses and I cried for a long time and had a miniature nervous breakdown.
Then it was Xmas.
King Kapisi – Screems From Tha Old Plantation
I ate turkey, played some video games, slept for 16 hours at a time and remembered how to chill the fuck out. And now I am more calmly getting my business affairs in order so I can start being a superstar again in January and hopefully this time be in a better mood with a far more sensible workload.
And that was 2015. It was certainly not short of drama and surprises, and 2014 was a hard act to follow.