I’m not going for big preamble. This is not a fashion post, but there are a few nods to it later, this is something I wanted to write for myself to remember that 2020 wasn’t all bad. I used to be a fairly pessimistic person, in fact my motto was ‘A pessimist is never disappointed’, but in the past few years that has changed and I’m definitely more of glass half full kind off girl now.
I’m not an annoyingly relentless optimist though, there have definitely been days this year when I’ve sobbed in the shower wondering how we are even going to get through the day, let alone the whole year. But we have, it’s 2021 and the hope is that it will get better eventually. So here are the things, in no particular order, that got me though and hopefully will be what I remember about 2020…
THE BACK FIELD
I did mention that this list is in no particular order, but if there is one thing, one place that has been an absolute constant this year it’s been ‘the back field, or the ‘top field, or to use it’s proper name ‘Warren Farm’. It’s just a big piece of land over the other side of the canal, about 5 minute walk from our house. I think before 2020 I had maybe been there about 6 times in 16 years. We used to go over there at New Years and set off fireworks and that’s about it. Before this year we were too busy doing ‘stuff’ to go for aimless walks around an old disused Sports ground.
But in 2020 it became my sanctuary. It was the place I went to punch the air with joy when I left my job (more on that later), it was the catalyst to getting a dog (more on him later) and it was the place I felt I could actually breathe. In full Spring lockdown I would go there with the boys to take penalty shots, jumpers for goalposts, in the summer I’d spend time trying to entice ‘Bra Lady’ to at least give me a smile. In the Autumn it became Thomas Franks’ playground and the only place to have legitimate human interaction with friends and fellow dog owners. In the Winter I like to check in on Kes, the Heron and the Goldfinches. I’m actively looking forward to Spring and the nesting of the Skylarks. I don’t even know who I am anymore, but I know that the nature in that field keeps me sane.
I mean this goes without saying really, but I’m going to say it. No-one expected to spend so much time at home this year with the people you live with. there were times it wasn’t easy, there was shouting, there were tears, there were times I was grateful the teenagers didn’t get out of bed until after lunch as it meant we only had to think about one meal a day. I’m grateful my husband took the Drake trolley to Sainsburys a lot and helped with the cooking. To be fair, he did a lot of it.
I don’t know how I would have coped either on my own or with little children, so hats off to anyone who had to do that. My homeschooling amounted to buying an extra couple of phone chargers and insisting a walk with me counts as PE. Teenagers get a bad rap, yes they are moody, disrespectful and a pain in the arse but also they are interesting, unconventionally clever and they made me laugh everyday.
I’m so glad we got to spend this year together as it will never happen again. When I’m old and in a care home (or living at the bottom of Edwards garden like he promised me when he was 8, even if his wife says no), I will say ‘Remember 2020, that year when you hung out with me every single day and I was your only friend, now help me to the commode’.
LEAVING MY JOB
This was a big one for me. Having been in ‘proper’ employment’ my whole life. Always having a paycheck to rely on. This year I decided to go it alone. Maybe not the greatest idea in a global pandemic, but being at home showed me once and for all that I just didn’t want to work for big company anymore. I’ve worked in the music business my whole adult life and it’s been fun, god it has been REALLY fun. The tales I could tell, but would probably be hit with super injunction if I did.
But times have changed, it’s not the place it was 25 years ago, it’s not even the place it was 5 years ago. Record Companies are ruled by stats and numbers now, not passion and creativeness. And god forbid you are a woman over 45 working at a major label. I can count on one hand the amount of women over this age that are left. I’ve been wanting to get out for a while but never had the push I needed, so when I had a meeting with my bosses in May and one mentioned that he didn’t think they could justify having 3 people in my department anymore, I said ‘Great, then I will leave’. So I did.
I’m still working in music. I set up on my own, and happily, most of the acts I worked on before (and even a few more) said they’d like to continue working with me as an independent TV promotions consultant. Now, if a few of them could just release new music and we could get rid of the Pandemic then things might be looking up…
Being at home for so long meant we didn’t see our friends very much this year, it also meant you really got to know the ones who mattered the most. The ones who checked in on you, the ones you’d sing ’ guess that song’ with on Houseparty, the ones you took the time to see (socially distanced, of course) when the lockdown was lifted. Not being in an office and surrounded by people anymore really showed you the gems who actually mattered. Separated the wheat from the chaff so to speak.
This might sound a little ‘live, love, laugh’, but if you feel like you’d like to speak to someone, call them. If you see something you think an old friend would find funny, or interesting, text them. If you’re worried about someone you haven’t heard from you know isn’t very well, drive over with a care package. Don’t hesitate to do something kind. don’t second guess yourself, because it will ALWAYS be a good thing. Plus it will make you feel better about yourself. so it’s win win.
Yes, 2020 wasn’t great overall, but come on, we found THE SHORTS! This is totally shallow, but they bought me joy and I know they brought a lot of you joy too. Back in the summer Topshop sold a pair of shorts that were actually flattering. It was a revelation to many us women of certain age. We COULD get our legs out and feel comfortable in our own skin. I bought them in every colour and I wore them so much in the summer that I STILL have a tan line on my upper thighs that I expect will be there until I put them on again come Spring when the sun shines down upon us.
If you didn’t get them, then I’m sorry for your loss. Maybe they will bring them back next year and name them after me…
THE KEMI TELFORD KATE DRESS
Talking of naming things after me, did I ever mention I got a dress named after me? Did I? In the Spring I bought a dress from one of my favourite independent brands, Kemi Telford. I posted this photo (on the left) of me wearing in my back garden, of course, where else would I go to wear it. Turns out lots of other people liked it too, and consequently Kemi Telford sold out. Yvonne then made it in a different colour and named it after me. I couldn’t have been more flattered.
I guess this officially makes me an ‘Influencer’. I hate that word and I can’t equate that with being an actual job, but it kind of is. I make no money when I champion Independent brands. I only make money when I use affiliate links for bigger brands or do the occasional advert. But I love the thought that I can help out small businesses, ones where I can see an actual difference being made. Also, they sometimes send me free clothes to say thanks and as all my spare money pretty much goes on clothes anyway (hence Wears My Money) this is just peachy.
As we couldn’t go abroad this year we decided on 2 UK holidays instead. We went to Devon in July and Northumberland in August. While Devon was very nice, it was Northumberland that stole my heart. Firstly it has more Castles than you could possibly visit in a week, and believe me I tried. I LOVE castles, The more ruined the better too. I think it’s just the thought about who lived there and what happened and all the History and Intrigue.
But castles, aside, Northumberland is beautiful place. The people were lovely, the pubs were great, the scenery was breathtaking, the beaches were vast and empty. The weather wasn’t great, and it’s long long drive, but that was a small price to pay to get the rest. We stayed near Bamburgh with Stablewood Coastal Cottages and I can highly recommend The Ship Inn, The Joiners Arms, The Northumberland Arms and The Jolly Fisherman for food and drink. It was one of those holidays where you end up looking in Estate Agents windows and wondering about a move. I’m not quite done with London yet, it needs time to come back to life next year, but maybe one day. Until then, I will definitely be visiting Northumberland again soon.
Back in the early summer, when the ‘silent’ football season resumed, our team, Brentford FC were doing particularly well. So well in fact, I got all over excited and made a rash promise that if they got in to the Premier League we would get a dog and name him Thomas Frank after the Head Coach. Well, they didn’t get promoted but I bought a dog anyway. He even looks like his namesake, but that part was not planned. He’s a Labradoodle, I had no set plans on what breed I wanted, but as I have stupid amount of allergies I decided on a ‘oodle dog. I also wanted a decent sized one. Although I fear, the rate he’s growing, he will end up being the size of small horse.
I waxed lyrical the other week about how much I love Dog Walks, but Frank (for short) is such a great addition to our family. The cats are yet to see his benefit though, maybe they will come around one day. But I knew I’d never go back to working in an office and that I would always want to go out on long walks with him. My husband, who was really not keen on getting a dog, now loves this guy more than anything. We all do.
That’s it. If you got this far you deserve a medal for reading this mammoth essay full of self indulgence. Bravo! I’ll be back on Sunday with Dungarees. This time it won’t be just my thoughts I actually canvassed more opinions than my own, so come back then and see.
Let’s really hope it’s HAPPY NEW YEAR!