2016: The Year in Review

The story of my life is documented in these pages, I see that now. Six years of my life are here. I see how it all fits together. I see the successes, the plans that didn’t quite work, the changes of direction, the life-changing events. I was 44 when I started this blog and now I’m 50. I don’t live a quiet life. I travel and I run at my work responsibilities head-on at 100 miles an hour.

So, let’s do a review of the story so far and 2016 in particular. The beginning of 2016 found me three months in to an unexpectedly gruelling job at an unexpectedly disorganised company. A job which I took to resolve an economic and career crisis of 2015, which in turn was precipitated by experiencing violent crime in 2014. By the beginning of 2016 I was working at full pelt for a company that was giving me enough work to keep three people busy and just barely keeping my strength up.

January

I returned to the World’s Worst Company for a second season of work, which was predictably horrifying and involved more 14-hour days at the office. I was being illegally overworked, harassed in the workplace and facing a prisoner’s dilemma about whether or not to quit. At this point I’d neglected my private business for a few months and I was not yet economically stable so I couldn’t afford to make any rash decisions, rash being a good word for the state of my skin at that time.

I was terribly in love with the Person Who I Wasn’t Supposed To Be In Love with and this was by far the high point of January as well as the low point; this pattern persisted through several other months during 2016.

Photo: nicely-packaged chocolate and toffee in a shop in Hampstead. I was passing through on my way to a business meeting.

ocelot

Tune of the month. DSK: What Would We Do

February

More of the same. Work, stress, work, love, disappointment, work, hope, rinse repeat.A grim, dark month. I was caught on a hamster wheel of workplace abuse and my health was suffering for it. I tried to make a plan to deal with the situation.

severe butthurt

Tune of the month: Derajah Ft Paketo: Inna De Yard gave me strength.

March

March was better because the spring season at work was coming to an end. I could see light at the end of the tunnel and my sense of humour started to return. I have some really nice photos to show you from this month.

Firstly, because I like to show you photos of London, here’s a tray of rings that I photographed at Camden Market one day on my way to work.

camden-rings

And now for the best thing about March. l became aware that the World’s Worst Company holds an annual art competition. I further realised that a lot of people take it very seriously and spend hours at home labouring over paintings of bowls of fruit. I desperately needed to cheer myself up so for a few days I spent every spare minute at work, including during boring meetings, drawing giant cartoons on pieces of A3 paper, using marker pen. They took ten seconds each to complete. If anyone asked me what I was doing, which they did, I replied ‘I am entering the WWC art competition’ and they would nod sagely. I enjoyed this a lot because I was blatantly just taking the piss. I entered some of my drawings into the competition. To my astonishment and joy, they actually liked my work and exhibited it alongside the more serious artists. LOL. 10/10 would produce terrible art again.

Tune of the month: there wasn’t one. I was still quite worried about tax and possibly going bankrupt.

April

Hooray! The hellish spring season at work came to an end. At last! Summer arrived early and I took this photo of birds sitting right in the middle of the flower bed in the park, as though they owned the place.

bird-flower-bed

My clients loved me and I experienced applause and emotional return from large numbers of people, which was fantastic. I am a crowd-pleaser. I please crowds. It’s very thrilling. This was also a point in the year when the Person seemed very emotionally involved with me and I was drunk on it. I was loved and in love. It wasn’t a bad month.

Tune of the month. Duke: So In Love With You.

May

Quite unexpectedly, and just in time for the off-season at my day job, my private business started to pick up. I did some commercial work for a French company that more or less solved my tax problems, at least in theory.

The situation with the Person Who I Wasn’t Supposed To Be In Love With heated up so much that the air would crackle if we were in the same room together.

Then business picked up again, I won an exciting and wealthy new client and I realised that the summer was going to involve a lot of travel. Hooray for travel and money! This was the economic turning point of the year.

May was not a month for photos. We did have a few tunes.

James Brown: I Got Ants In My Pants

June

June was a bit nuts. We had Brexit, so embarrassing. So expensive and embarrassing. I was quite fat at 160lbs. I am not going to show you the actual best photo of the month because it is a photo of me and the Person at an event together. Oh god, I was so in love it was the most exciting thing for years. I cancelled a date with the Head Honcho for the very last time and broke off a budding relationship with a professional footballer who was crazy about me, because the Person was all I could see. It was very intoxicating.

Here’s the second best photo of June instead.

london wall

Tune. D/R Period: MoneyAs you can see, I was experiencing renewed financial confidence this month, despite Brexit causing the pound to lose value. I played this tune a lot over the next few months as money, or at least contracts representing money, started to roll in. What a blessing. Just what I needed and at the right time.

July

July absolutely kicked ass. I couldn’t have asked for more. I went to a party in New Jersey and went shopping and museum-visiting in Philadelphia and got paid for all of it. It was great. I love business travel more than I love almost anything else in the world. It was beautiful. The only thing that could have made it even better would be if the Person had been with me. But you know what, although they were back in London, they were in constant contact during this period, we talked on the phone, and it was beautiful. I stayed in an incredibly swank hotel, ate well, enjoyed the sun and the locations. Life was really good to me in July.

Various photos of New Jersey and Philadelphia. It was so lovely. I felt re-born.

August

As you can see, July smashed the ball out of the park, so I could not believe my good fortune when August got better and better. I packed another suitcase and made my first visit to South Africa, where I was taken on an expenses-paid tour of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. It was beyond my wildest dreams, I stayed in more excellent hotels and had my 50th birthday in glamorous surroundings, while being fed and treated like a celebrity. It was totally amazing.

I hardly posted any South Africa photos at the time, so let’s remedy that.

Music in August, recorded in Cape Town.

September

After two fantastic months of travelling, I returned to London feeling valued and well-paid and thus with more of a sense of normality. September meant returning to work for another season at the World’s Worst Company. I knew it was going to require all my strength and initiative to get through it. Fashion was my main strategy for keeping my morale up for the next few months, and so September marked the beginning of a three-month period in which I wore more dresses than I’ve probably ever worn in my life. It was quite something. I kept 15 pairs of shoes at the office and wore tulle petticoats as a matter of routine. The person who I was not supposed to be in love with could not stay out of my office.

By this time I was only one bad cup of coffee away from quitting the World’s Worst Job and so I played a lot of disco at work as well as wearing flamboyant clothes, to keep my spirits up. It worked and my customers loved all of it.

Tune of the month. Suzanne Paul: Blue Monkey

October

I finally got paid by one of my commercial clients, after waiting for only several months. I instantly became solvent again. I went to Human Resources at the World’s Worst Company and handed in my notice. Thank god for that. That was the worst experience I’ve had in 30 years of going to work.

Yet another commercial client came on board, securing my financial future for a bit longer. I was well happy. Around this time my workload really became quite hard to manage. I was being illegally overworked by the WWC as per usual and in addition to this the new commercial client started generously handing me projects that all needed to completed by Xmas.

I ate things like this, that’s salmon, a poached egg and some French onion soup. I was eating at a restaurant at St Pancras station, en route between meetings.

october-meal

The Person who I wasn’t supposed to be in love with continued to hang around and it was like this, considerably helped by the outrageous fashions I persisted in wearing.

snow-white

A part of me really believed that the relationship might last.

Tune of the month: The Shirelles

November

Dental work. Fatigue, extreme fatigue. Working two full-time jobs. Counting the days until I could stop going to the offices of the World’s Worst Company.

At exactly this moment, just when I was really using all the strength I had to meet my work obligations, the Person pulled the rug from under my feet, right at the end of a blissful day together that had seemed to secure our future. Fucks sake. I was so physically exhausted that my regret and disappointment about the relationship were overshadowed by the feeling that he could have bloody WAITED until December to stop being supportive of me because I really needed some kind of support.

I took some beautiful photos of my beloved Person in November, I suppose the last ones I’ll ever take of him. How I loved him. If I could, I would show you. Instead, here are a couple of photos from around London in November.

December

At long last, December arrives, bringing it with the last days and hours of the most demanding, on-site aspects of the World’s Worst Job. I was very sick by this point, that job made me so ill, every season. I was surviving on basically no sleep and experiencing constant tension headaches.

Then, as if by magic, things started to wrap up. Things started to reach a conclusion and other things did not spring up to take their place. I stopped going to the WWC every day, which was a gigantic relief. I finished my project for my most recent and most demanding client. Somewhat to my own amazement, I thoroughly cleaned and decorated my house, all before 21 December. And then it was holiday time, and then it was actual Christmas. I had 9 consecutive days without any work and all I did was eat stodgy food and play with the Playstation and it was a fantastic way to end the year.

That might be one of the most eventful years I have had. Thank you SO MUCH for coming on the journey with me. I wish every single reader a very happy and prosperous 2017.

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