And now it's time for that review of 2001, with previous years' attempts
finding critical acclaim from some quite unlikely quarters. That's right - if
you don't read anything else I write in any great detail, then this should
provide a quick way of genning up on all that's been going on in my life over
the last year. Some people slip a "newsletter" into their Christmas cards; I
guess this isn't really so very different, just a few days later...
The year started in seasonal style, with me somehow being talked into taking
skiing lessons at Milton Keynes' recently-opened indoor ski centre with real
snow - along with my housemate Mark and pizza-pal Darren. The first lesson of
the five booked in February was miserable for me and I could easily have given
up there and then had I not stood to lose a lot of money. But I was glad I
stuck with it, and passed with flying colours at the end of the week, and have
been back a fair few times since and really love it. No real sign yet of a
proper skiing holiday, but at least it's an option now!
March was overshadowed by some long-brewing but suddenly-breaking developments
in MKCF, with Paul and Carol deciding they couldn't continue in their
leadership of the Centre Church congregation of which I was part. Many people
walked out on the spot, but I weathered the initial storm, considering there to
be far more important issues at stake than who was at the helm. However,
having been tipped off that a major and somewhat undesirable reorganisation was
on the cards, in April I dipped my toes into Milton Keynes Vineyard, and when
that was confirmed in early May, I fairly swiftly made my move - though I
believe that MKCF left me just as much as I left them.
The move to MKV has proved to be a good one, I feel, and I found myself
immediately in the company of friends both old and new - and have by no means
broken off friendships with anyone from MKCF, further confirming this was the
right move for me. As a new church, MKV are still finding their feet in many
ways, and it's exciting to be part of a church where I can actually play a part
in its evolution rather than just conform and fit in to existing structures.
Since the summer I've been a key member of the worship music team there, and as
many people will know, Vineyard churches take their worship very seriously, so
it's quite an honour to be involved so quickly.
Holiday-wise, 2001 has been a little odd, but I have nevertheless got away for
a couple of substantial breaks during the year. I spent the last week of May
in Newquay, Cornwall, with my friend Sarah and her family, staying with Sarah's
dad and step-mum who live there. It was a slightly fraught week at times, but
worth it in the end, and Sarah certainly appreciated the extra helping hands!
As usual, I took September off work, but only got away for a few days, choosing
the Pembrokeshire coast of south-west Wales. The weather was decidedly mixed,
but it was good fun anyway, and I got to meet some lovely people from all round
the world at the youth hostels I used, and drove down via my sister's house in
Work at the Open University has been much of a muchness really, with even the
somewhat feared reorganisation of our department proving to be not much more
than a storm in a teacup, at least for the moment. I did move office in July,
but that wasn't much - if anything - to do with that, and I'm still with Sam
and Tim, thankfully for my sanity. Project-wise, it's been a reasonably
productive year, and I've found my feet with Java programming, which stands me
in good stead for a future anywhere. I need to be thinking where that
"anywhere" might be, for various reasons, not least because I've now hit the
top of the automatic Grade 2 pay-scale.
Family-wise things have been looking up quite a bit after recent years, with my
brother Pete taking definite steps to get out of his lousy marriage and in to
something much better. It's hardly the way any of us would have liked it to
end up, but we all now recognise that something had to change, and are very
glad he seems to be finding true happiness for the first time in years.
There's still much to be settled, and we have no idea how long it's all going
to take, but there's almost certainly no turning back now.
Speaking of my brother, September 11th should have been remembered for being
his fortieth birthday, but within minutes of my sending him a celebratory text
message - I succumbed to the mobile-phone revolution in April, and have barely
looked back since - I was reading reports here on Monochrome of multiple plane
crashes, of collapsing skyscrapers, and the slow realisation these were no
freak accidents. Of course, these were not "my news", but there can't be many
people who have completely avoided being touched by the events or the folly of
what's happened since, who have not had their outlook on the "world as we know
it" changed at least a little. One thing that hasn't changed, alas, is that
Afghanistan is still being dumped on by anyone and everyone who can, and that
oil is of course the primary concern as in just about every issue the
"concerned and compassionate West" has got itself involved with in recent
So that was my year. Well, almost, but not quite...
Let's wind the clock back to February for a moment, when I sent off a somewhat
speculative e-mail to a nice sounding young lady - and single mother - from
near Slough, who had posted a personal advert on a Christian website. Due to
technical problems, it was almost a month until a reply arrived, and I'd almost
given up hope - but not quite, I don't think. Anyway, that was the first
contact I made with my gorgeous girlfriend Claire, who has come to play an
extremely important part in my life over the last ten months. We've been "on"
and we've been "off", but our friendship has been steady all the while and has
underpinned a more focused relationship which got off to a slightly wobbly
start in August but has deepened ever since and which we really believe to be
going somewhere truly special now. Claire and Jess have certainly been my
number-one preoccupations for the last few months, and I'm not sorry for a
moment... I have a hunch my review of 2002 in a year's time might dwell a
little more on all this!