Monday, 30 October 2017

2007 - A Foreign Country

Our minds are weird bastards. All it takes is one little thing to transport us back to another time in our lives. A few weeks ago I had to renew my Driving Licence because every 10 years in the UK, you have to update the photograph on it, much like a passport. I also needed to update my address on it, so you know... two birds with one stone, etc.

Anyway, I went to the main Post Office in Manchester city centre to get it all sorted (because I'm still relatively new to the city and I've not found my local one, yet) and after getting a "Biometrics & DVLA Renewals" queue ticket, I sat down in the waiting area. As I realised that I was in for a long wait, my mind began to wander and after spending some time internally tutting at how Post Offices have changed since I was knee-high to a Grasshopper, it suddenly hit me that it was 10 years since I applied for my provisional Driving Licence.

Ten years.



I remember 2007 really well, because a lot happened to me and in the world in general that year:

  • I left the education system. After being in schools and colleges for 17 years, I finally escaped, which was nice and also a bit weird. If you're wondering, I was in college for 6 years, as the first 2 years were spent at a shit college, run by a corrupt dickhead of a Principle who has thankfully had one hell of a downfall since then. The remaining 4 years were spent at a completely different college that was actually quite enjoyable... apart from that time a small-scale race riot broke out and we had to stay in our department for over an hour.
  • I started a long, shitty quest to find a job. I hadn't had a paid job for a few years, so upon leaving college, I was thrust into the unwelcome, slimy arms of The Smug Brigade AKA The Job Centre, who kept forcing completely unsuitable jobs on me and just generally being smug, shitty twats. But what's new?
  • Northern Rock hit the shits. This event was big news in the UK, but little did we know it was the start of the massive fuckalmighty financial crash that destroyed a lot of people and took out many big names with it. It really was just the start. It's also scary to think there is a whole generation growing up right now who aren't even aware of Northern Rock, but I digress... I have a fixed memory of news reports showing massive queues outside branches of Northern Rock up and down the country, until I saw such a queue at the Liverpool city centre branch when...
  • I went on a date that ended up being utter shite. I'd been trying internet dating for a couple of years by this point with very little success, but I'd recently been talking to someone via one site and we'd been getting on really well. She was from Liverpool and as I was living in the middle of nowhere at the time, we agreed to meet at Liverpool Central Station. As always, I was ridiculously early, but when my date turned up, all seemed well and we chatted just as easily as we had done for weeks on the phone and over the internet. We chatted, browsed in a few shops and quite randomly walked past George Galloway. All seemed well, then she "suddenly" heard from her friend who was deeply upset over something and she had to leave. Despite not having been on a lot of dates at this point, something told me this had all been planned, even though I walked her to her bus stop and we parted on good terms. She never spoke to me again. 
  • I was still living with my parents in the middle of nowhere. Despite desperately wanting to have my own place somewhere with good transport links, I was still in the same house as my parents - the house I grew up in - in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, that house is on one long road, next to a dozen or so other houses but apart from that, it's just fields. Most of those fields you wouldn't dare even look at for fear of being shot/chased by dogs. Mobile phone signal was virtually non-existent to the point that texting would be hit and miss and if you wanted to call someone, then hanging out of the back bedroom window was your best bet and when I say hanging out, I shitting well mean it. 
  • The internet was a different world. I'd not long joined Facebook and I was still just about using Myspace. I was blogging via the latter and via MSN, when that was still a big thing. I was a year away from setting this blog up. No idea if the stuff I was writing about in 2007 still exists and if I'm honest, I'm too scared to investigate. We had a pretty shitty BT broadband connection at the time too, which wasn't much faster than dial-up, to be honest. 

2007 me would not believe how much my life has changed and the journey I've been on (fucking hell, that makes me sound like a fucking X Factor contestant. Fuck...). Lots of jobs, lots of relationships, living in different locations, having a breakdown and depression, having a life in London, meeting royalty, getting Matt LeBlanc drunk, seeing Bruce Forsyth live at the London Palladium, seeing Squeeze live, visiting TV Centre, Attending the recording of an episode of Red Dwarf (and being able to hear my laughter on the broadcast episode... just...) Being on TV, being retweeted by John Cleese and the endless notifications it resulted in... I could go on, but that's for another time. Maybe...

Of course, I've aged over those 10 years, too. My hair has gradually become more grey, I'm very aware of where it's receding, I'm finding it harder to lose weight and even hangovers now last longer than a few hours, but that shit happens to us all in the end. Anyone who says otherwise is a greasy bullshitter. I could also mention Brexit, but let's not... What matters is that one way or another, I've lived my life since 2007 and even though I now look at the photo that will adorn my Driving Licence until 2027 and wonder what the shitting fuck has happened to my face and hair, I've actually had a really good time, on the whole. 

As L.P. Hartley CBE once said: "The past is a foreign country..." which really couldn't be more true as I look back at the situation I found myself in 10 years ago. And to think all of this started in a Post Office Queue...

Myself with Matt LeBlanc in January 2013. I can honestly say he's lovely when drunk and lovely when sober. I was working in a pub at the time and he stayed in the hotel opposite (pre-Top Gear) a lot. I was lucky enough to spend time with him on the night pictured above and the following afternoon, when he came in for a full English. I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to brag about this forever. A month later, some of the Made In Chelsea lot came in and they were utter twats.

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