New Year Letter 2010
Dear all, I’d normally write you a letter to tell you all about the things I’ve been up to this year and title it as a “Christmas Letter”. This year, organisation has not been my strong point, and so its a New Year letter. As usual, sorry for the gloomy bits – I don’t really do the completely upbeat nonsense, and anyway, all the Christmas letters I remember from my childhood had at least one death in them. This one doesn’t. thankfully.
The year started in heaps of snow, and as my housemate and I walked back along the river, we admired how lucky we were to be living in York, and how our lives had changed over the last decade. Things looked pretty rosy, though in fairness, they were all white anyway. I began the year with the same job that I have just finished it with, which seems like a milestone in life I should note here. In January weeks of snow went on – I picked up where I’d left off with going to Copenhagen, and prepared for a visit to Canada.
Three weeks in Canada might sound like a holiday to some, but it was accompanied by immense stress as I wrestled with the possibility I might move out there. I’m sure by now many of you will have gathered that the relationship which would have dragged me out there ended later in the year – I’m glad I put the effort in to the possibility, but it really wasn’t going to work on several levels.
As March started, I struggled to get back into my work at St Michael le Belfrey. I think having 2 weeks away just before Christmas and then a very short window of opportunity before disappearing again made it hard to get any momentum going. The general election loomed, I spent a good few hours out knocking on doors with the local Labour candidate (duly re-elected), and lost a lot of sleep to the general election. The change of government in turn made it difficult to plan anything of substance in the campaigns world, as everything was “up for review”, and several major organisations went on hiatus to re-write everything to fit the new world.
The change of government did eventually bring fresh impetus for campaigning, but not before I had to say good bye to many dear friends of mine. Having spent 3 years working with University of York People & Planet (we’ve never agreed what my job description should be) this was the first year group I’d seen the whole way through.
I wound up my year at St MIkes feeling somewhat at a loss, not for the position, but for any real sense that I’d used it meaningfully. I think a lot of people in the church never really got what I was getting at, and to be honest, I could have done much better at finding ways to explain myself. Alongside Rev Sue Wallis leaving Visions (the congregation of St Mikes with which I’ve had the longest continuous attachment), its been very hard to work out where I fit in the church.
If the year up to this point seemed like it was a walk into total confussion, I should point out several facts at this point. First, I have amazing friends, and whilst they haven’t sorted my life out, they provide amazing company along the way. Second, that I had the best birthday of my adult life thanks to a large selection of them. Third that everything began to change in about July, slowly but surely.
In July I headed off to a wedding on the South Coast of England, and then hopped on a ferry the last third of the way to French Climate Camp 2010, Le Havre. I took my bike, which was all well and good, but the switch backs on the road to the camp weren’t entirely to my liking! It was a pleasantly laid back camp, helped by the affable local politics – we were camped on common land in a town with a communist mayor. It was interesting to see just how “English” some aspects of the camp were, how different others were, and a restful experience all in all.
On my return to London I spent a long weekend enjoying the sights, meeting up with my sister (on placement at Tearfund) and parents (on holiday in Cambridge, day commuting!). In August I travelled to UK Climate Camp at RBS headquarters in Scotland, where I stayed 3 days before a 15 hour journey to Soul Survivor in Somerset – I had a berth on the sleeper train followed by an hour in London, followed by a train to Castle Carey. In 9 years of Soul Survivor, I’ve still barely repeated any route! Straight after was Greenbelt, but in fairness, I was too tired to properly enjoy it – opting more for the talks side of the program, I almost completely missed the music either through duties with “Transcendence” (Visions and York Minster joint project) or through meeting up with the dozens of friends who were there.
No sooner was I back than York Stop the Cuts was renamed from York Right to Work, and I was busy, to say the least. The tale of what has been going on over there is quite a long one, but some highlights have included organising a march in response to the Comprehensive Spending Review with rally speeches including Hugh Bayley MP and Father Tim Jones, my day in London with students during which we didn’t even manage to march past parliament, let alone reach Millbank, the scene of most of the press attention, and seeing over 500 young people protesting in the city centre here in York – inspiring a real feeling of hope.
By the middle of December I was pretty worn out from all of the above, but after 2 weeks of solid rest, I’m now getting going again, ready for the New Year. I spent Christmas with my parents, sister and an overseas student from my sister’s halls in Nottingham. You’d think after numerous media appearances, I’d manage to get away from it all at Christmas. Nope. Whilst trying to get a train from York station, I bumped into a BBC news team covering the Christmas getaway and travel chaos, and was interviewed holding my brand new cross country skis. I may not be moving to Canada any time soon, but as the weather over here is getting more Canadian, I thought I’d invest in some equipment to keep me fit, mobile and extremely happy (ask the people who’ve put up with me whilst waiting for the order to eventually arrive!).
The year ahead will be challenging – I know that much already. My hours at work (Alzheimer’s Society) are being reduced, my anti-cuts activism is likely to stretch me just by itself, and I have a couple of other major projects to contend with. Still, its not a competition, its life and its for sharing. See you next year!
Entry filed under: Personal.