You sometimes hear people bemoan bygone days, but I think the past is overrated, don’t you?
For the sake of a decent headline and no other particular reason, I’ve skipped back 30 years in 10 year segments which I can handily update after Christmas by adding +1 on.
To save you reading to the end, if you’re short of time or patience, 2017 is undoubtedly better than 1977, 87 or 97.
Admittedly this government is a shambles and America’s leadership is a global embarrassment, but I’d hold both hands up and shout “I prefer now.”
1977 was a domestic disaster after the heat of 76 when temperatures were in the 80s and 90s daily in Doncaster, when I was 11. I hit 12 in 1977 and was about to leave middle school, which was educational heaven for the mediocrity and malaise of a comprehensive school, where kids came a long second to playing pool in the staffroom and smoking, it seemed to us. High school in Thorne was nothing short of a disaster. Ofsted and MATs didn’t exist though to kick it in the long grass and add a glass atrium to make us all feel we’d arrived.
I remember the crushing disappointment of 1978 to 83 in a crap school, looking back.
1987 was arguably even worse; I’d survived three years in Sunderland, which was UKIP and Britain First rolled into one, with biting winds, white supremacist locals and with summers that didn’t occur. It remains the only place where locals shouted abuse at me and my friends, many of whom were black, Asian or Chinese. A year in Leeds calling men “Love” then transformed into a cross pennine move to Oldham, to a church school so savage that a deputy head, a man of the cloth, assaulted staff and even a student without consequence. Christianity at its finest. I started teaching English to delightful students in an atmosphere of stifling hierarchies and rules.
1997 saw me shift to Stoke-on-Trent, lose my teeth and teach for just over two years in what was regarded then as one of Britain’s toughest schools. If they’d had Bibles there, you’d have been attacked with one too. I enjoyed it though. Like anywhere, there were great kids and staff and despite breaking my jaw, nose and losing teeth, I loved living in Staffordshire and long to return there when my pension kicks in at 55 (assuming I’m still alive).
2007 saw me in my last year of missionary work, educating young people in Doncaster, my hometown. It wasn’t a great year, our daughter born the year before was challenging with an undiagnosed food allergy and after 6 years in Stoke, the area all felt a bit flat. Lovely people though up there, before we made the long trek south and east to Norfolk.
Less said about here, the better, I think.
2017 is without doubt the best year of my life now.
We are settled, I’m doing something I love and find stress-free, in a new home on the edge of woods which I trek through daily with Cassie, my rescue dog, and I’ve consciously buried the past 10 years here in Norfolk in a deep grave, which I refuse to visit again.
I write, I work from home, I have a great broadband connection, a fantastic work space, a loving wife, son, daughter and dog, and from my viewpoint, when I look out of my bubble and see Theresa May coughing, the shambles of Brexit, the turmoil in the world, I selfishly proclaim I like this year.
Life is sweet, to coin Mike Leigh’s phrase.