Friday, May 08, 2020

A second "decade in review" blog post

Back in 2010 I did a summary of the preceding decade and concluded by saying “Roll on 2020!” (Oh, how that feels hilarious right now with 2020 being a terrible year in so many ways.)

Sometimes I find that when I go back to old blog posts, reading that review feels like reading the life of a different person. I've always been struck by that (possibly untrue) statistic that says all the cells in our body are replaced over an 8 year cycle, so in a way that blogpost was written by an entirely different person.  But, anyway, ten years later, I'm still here and still blogging, albeit not as frequently as I did back then. So, a decade on, I thought I may as well review what I have been up to from my early-mid-30s to my early-mid-40s. 

I’ll do this on a year by year basis and just pick a couple of things per year. Most of the links will be to my original blog posts about things.

The big things happened here on 1 day in particular, the 1st April. This was the day I had a job interview to go and work in the NHS, returned back to my current employer where I was called aside and given my official redundancy notice, and then in the evening I went to the theatre and saw Dirk Benedict in a Columbo play. Dirk Benedict was Face Man in the A Team. We used to pretend we were the A-Team in the playground at school and we all wanted to be Face. I was star-struck, as you can tell in this photo.

Me and Face

On the 4th May (Star Wars Day) I started my NHS job and I have been proud to work in the NHS ever since. 

The big thing about 2011 was becoming an uncle for the first time. Baby Joy arrived in our lives. She yawned while I was talking to her on the first day she met me and has been tired of my antics ever since.

I've subsequently accrued four more niblings (that's a real word!) during the decade. They're all cool.

The footballing highlight of the year was a trip to the Emirates to see Shrewsbury play Arsenal in the league cup. I bought my first half-and-half scarf. #NoRegrets. Shrewsbury were even winning for a bit and the fans sang that Arsene Wenger was getting sacked in the morning. He stayed on another 7 years.

The big event this year was the Olympics. I remember getting up really early to see the Olympic Torch being carried through Grangetown

During the actual games, I went to see the Olympic football in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, including a double header of group games and the third place play-off match.Is still think it was a swizz that they promised us a medal ceremony then decided at the last minute that the third place winners would receive their bronze medals the next night in London. It gave me an opportunity to see a rare sight, a Great Britain international team.

I also almost got eaten by a hippo in Paris, when we visited the city for my sister-in-law Abby's 40th birthday.

2013 (there's a sort of review of the year here)
The stand out thing for me was going to London with Connor to see the Tragically Hip play a gig in Trafalgar Square to celebrate Canada Day. We then went the following night to see them play a gig in Camden. 

Later in the year Cathy and I spent our fifteenth wedding anniversary building a Lego camper van.

I can't really blog anything about my experience doing Jury service, but I found it hugely interesting and there was an incident during the judge's summing up which made the national newspapers. 

I also did a work placement in a health board comms team that coincided with the Daily Mail spending an entire week running stories smearing the reputation of NHS Wales. They literally dug up story after story from the preceding ten years, many of which had been resolved, and ran them as if they were all happening that week. I learned a lot about what utter scumbags some sections of the press can be in that week. The photo is from the flu vaccination campaign I was involved in.

My work placement was based in Caerleon, where I also started my MSc course in Business Psychology. That had an unexpected outcome. In the first module we did a session on motivation and burnout and my scores were a lot higher than any of my fellow students. It was a good indication that I needed to move jobs.

Three big things happened to me in 2015. Firstly, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in January. That came as a shock and I was put on some hardcore medication because I was extremely ill.

I lost weight (over 10kgs; 4 inches off my waist; 2 t-shirt sizes) and got my blood glucose back into the healthy range. For the last year and a half I have been off diabetes medication. I haven't blogged much about having Type 2 Diabetes. There is a lot of stigma attached to it, and it's the punchline in a lot of jokes. It takes a certain amount of confidence to tell people you have it

In June I started a new job, still in the NHS, taking on a national role as a clinical network manager. I'd spent 5 years in my previous job and had reached a point where I needed to move. I took a lot of good memories with me.

Two months after I started my new job my Grandma died. She had been hospitalised after a fall, but that was just toward the end of a long decline. I gave a tribute at her funeral. This photo taken in 2014 is one of the last photos I took of her. I like it because you can see the mischief in her eyes.

I turned 40 in 2016 and had a big party. The next month we went on a massive road trip in the USA and Canada. We watched the Red Sox at Fenway on Star Wars night. We went to Cooperstown, to the Baseball Hall of Fame. We went on pilgrimage to Kingston, Ontario. We fell in love with Toronto and visited Niagara Falls.

(Those pancakes were the "healthy" breakfast option. They came with fruit!)

Our holiday the following year was a bit more low key. We had a day exploring Lundy, which felt like visiting the end of the world even though we didn't even really leave the Bristol Channel.

I also graduated with my MSc. It was a lovely graduation ceremony and I felt very pleased to have completed the course, given some of the difficult things that had happened in the duration. One of my favourite pieces of work was analysing the psychology of Lego's marketing. My final piece of work seemed to uncover a link between personal self-worth and a diminished opinion of your manager.

My gigs this year were a bit eclectic. Midnight Oil in London (after many year thinking I would I never get the chance to see them in concert again) and Sir Tom Jones, recording a TV show in Cardiff Bay.

Shrewsbury Town went to Wembley twice, and lost both times. They are five for five in losing there now. I can't even express how incredibly frustrating the 2017-2018 season ultimately was.

Cathy and I had a better time in London a couple of months later when we went and saw The Muppets live at the O2 Arena. It was brilliant. The Electric Mayhem rock!

The second half of the year was spent in a state of flux because we had our kitchen gutted and rebuilt. It was a very stressful experience. I really love our new kitchen but I've yet to take any photos that do it justice. Or show the finished floor.

Cathy had a lot of health news in 2018, beginning with a visit to Addenbrookes in Cambridge where she was given a diagnosis of lipodystrophy. It's an ultra-rare condition, affecting fewer than 4 people per million. I always knew she was special. Then towards the end of the year she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have surgery. We literally had the kitchen and other construction work finish on the Friday and she had her surgery on the Monday. Thankfully they got it all in one go. It was a stressful way to end the year and I was glad to see the back of 2018!

The last year up for review. I went out to Pizza Hut with Cathy one night and didn't take my phone. Cathy had a message on her phone from my brother asking if she knew where I was. So I rang him. We were due to go on a fishing weekend together and I thought he was calling to get me to pay my half of the costs.

He wasn't.

When I called him back, he told me my Dad had died.

I'm still getting used to not having Dad phoning me every week. In my tribute to him at the funeral I told a story about a time he was described as being "stuck on transmit". I miss those transmissions.

I miss my Dad.

Trawling through photos for this blogpost I found a few of him that I'd forgotten. I really like this one of him with my nephew in 2014.

The rest of 2019 was a bit of a blur in comparison. There was the trip to Belfast to see Barry Town play in the Europa League, and we had a lovely week in Caernarfon in the autumn. But most of the year was spent helping my Mum sort out stuff in her house and slowly coming to terms with not having Dad around.

So that's where I will close out this inordinately long post. After the optimism of the post back in 2010, I have no desire to tempt fate by saying roll on 2030! Hopefully I will still be blogging then. If not, well, this was 2010-2019. 

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