The Sum Of All Years.

This little meme-ette was apparently doing the rounds during the autumn, as initiated by Cliff at This is this. It’s a simple concept, which should need no further introduction.

Update: Hmm, it seems that I should have spelt the concept out in more detail after all. For each entry, the word count should match the age. At least according to your word processing package of choice.


Hello, sister.

Happy little cherub.

Teach myself to read.

Youngest pupil, at girls’ school.

Why can’t we have au-pair BOYS?

Top of the class, teacher’s pet; precocious.

Two years younger than all my classmates; prodigy.

Whistle blower on the “show us your willy” scandal.

The last days of our idyllic “Janet and John” existence.

Mother moves out to re-marry; grandmother moves in to house-keep; devastated.

A crush on the headmaster’s daughter causes temporary blurring of emergent sexuality.

A crush of infinitely greater magnitude at boarding school causes blurring to cease.

Hormonal frenzy during Long Hot Summer of 1976 causes disappointing exam results. Father re-marries.

Obsessed with punk, hideous collection of shit brown polo-neck sweaters notwithstanding. Tensions with step-family accumulate.

Annus miserabilis. Wracked with self-consciousness, no friends at school, family scapegoat, many wounding rows at home.

Slow re-construction of identity commences. First sexual experience, bringing more pain than pleasure. Leave home for London.

Selling tourist tat at Hamleys toyshop, saving for solo rail trip round Europe. Doomed attempt to study law.

Flunk law, switch to German. Living in cheerful communal squalor. Fantastic social life; barren sex life. Something’s gotta give.

Something gives: namely my fear of entering gay society. First date, first gay friend, first boyfriend (not the same person).

Experiments in bottle-blondeness. Move to West Berlin. Flatshare with three right-on schoolmistresses in their thirties. Become a “creature of the night”.

“Vacuum created by the arrival of freedom, and the possibilities it seems to offer.” Having just found my feet, leave Berlin reluctantly.

After Berlin, Nottingham feels drab. Strategy of only dating unsuitable people fails spectacularly, when I fall in love with K. Escape deferred indefinitely.

Redundancy from first shitty job comes as a blessing. Our crappy rented flat becomes the “matt black dream home”, all chrome and lacquered ash.

Working for the council, not eating meat, sitting on Equal Opportunities committee, spinning house and rap at “alternative” lesbian/gay night. Impeccably PC or what?

My club nights become the focus for the “Stop Clause 28” crowd. Constant comparisons with The Proclaimers force me into contact lenses. Bye bye, “cruise shields”…

Promotion at work feels like a breakthrough. The “social lynchpin” years reach their zenith, our house becoming everyone’s speakeasy. K commences seven years of intensive foreign travel.

Although life is certainly fun-packed, we’re pulling in different directions. K is stressed and needs space; I’m bored and need action. Our social circle has exceeded critical mass.

See above. At our local gay flea-pit, I’m quite the Belle of the Ball on Saturday nights. It’s an achievement of sorts. Wild times in New York and Amsterdam.

Moving house cures us of Perpetual Host Syndrome, but K is now abroad every other week. We’re quite the style queens, with our minimalist décor and our labels. Sweedie. Darling.

The mass cull of family members gathers pace, with the death of my father having particular impact. Correspondingly, my taste for hedonism steps up a notch. The hardcore clubbing years commence.

The jet-set years peak, with holidays in California, Barcelona, Scandinavia and Burgundy. Work is pants, but energies are focussed elsewhere. See God on a dancefloor in Clerkenwell, re-emerging with a convert’s zeal.

Swap the poofy labels for standard-issue Schott, Sherman, Levis. Volunteer for the local Gay Switchboard. Tenth anniversary party, relationship crisis, resolution. Join the Internet: omniscience at the touch of a button. Hello, world!

On said Clerkenwell dancefloor, I’m quite the regular celebrant on Sunday mornings, with the sexy Leicester boys and the gurn-along gang. After seven years in a job I hate, make long overdue sideways move.

The dutiful, card-carrying, Gay with a capital G years reach their culmination over Pride weekend: my Apotheosis of Queer. Having ticked off everything on my shopping list of experiences, one question remains: what next? Hmm…

Actually, why not work through that list one more time? Might as well. Over recent years, this single-minded dedication has narrowed my focus. Who needs other interests? Frankly darlings, I’ve become a bit of a bore.

After the seventh family bereavement in seven years, something inside snaps. Poor timing, as I experience major New Job Jitters, free of the council at last. Text-book midlife crisis kicks in, big time. Worst year since adolescence.

Miraculously, K concludes lucrative business deal, allowing us to purchase weekend bolt-hole in the Peak District. Priorities re-arrange themselves, instantly and dramatically. On the weekend we move in, I say my final farewells to the Clerkenwell dancefloor. Closure.

Spend six knackering months playing weekend hosts to all our city friends, whilst furnishing the cottage from scratch. Start collection of Gillray caricatures. Social anxiety around posh “county” types. Win 200 quid on quiz show. Change job. Start blogging.

Project from Hell, marooned in a Portakabin in the industrial North East. Unexpectedly re-introduced, via blogging, to London gay scene. Play with fire, get burnt. What I took for an epiphany is actually closure of a different kind. Nuff said.

An all-new garden for the cottage is commissioned and built, leading to uptake of age-appropriate new interest. In surprise role reversal, commence several months of intensive business travel: several weeks in Paris, then six other European cities. Re-evaluate priorities, and reluctantly quit blogging.

Start blogging again. After slow start, have established solid network of valued friends in the village, which now feels more like home than Nottingham. No longer scared of middle age. Tough holiday in Peru causes sequence of illnesses, leading to depressive relapse.

Twentieth anniversary of relationship with K. Blogging leads to radio interview, national press coverage, lecturing engagement. First piece of paid journalism appears in Time Out. Start course of cognitive behavioural therapy. Opportunity arises for three weeks working in China over Christmas. Optimistic? Very.

Please feel free to try this at home. Warning: it’s tougher than it looks.

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