|The 40 In 40 Days Project.|
6. The Queeny Put-Down (1999)
The Au Pairs
unquestionably the annus horribilis of my adult life.
In the Spring, my stepmother Sally died
suddenly and unexpectedly, bringing the toll of deaths in the family to
seven in less than seven years, and necessitating the sale of the house
I had grown up in. For some reason, there seemed to be a particular
finality attached to this latest bereavement. It somehow brought all the
previous losses back into focus, and the cumulative effect hit me hard.
The week after her funeral, I started a
new job. I had been with Nottinghamshire County Council for over twelve
years, and had inevitably become institutionalised within its gently
decaying structures. I was not emotionally ready for the cultural jolt
of joining the private sector and having to prove myself in a new
environment. Furthermore, the job I had been offered bore scant
resemblance to the job I ended up doing. I had been hired on the
strength of technical skills which, on the first day, I discovered were
no longer required. Instead, I found myself struggling with antiquated,
cumbersome technology, in a senior technical role but with none of the
requisite background knowledge. My confidence was low, my spirit was
weak and my attitude was all wrong. There were times in those first few
months where I would find myself suddenly leaving my desk, shutting
myself in the toilets, staring at the wall and trying to calm myself
down, desperately trying not to let the cracks become visible.
Meanwhile, K was having immense
difficulties in his own work. He had started his own small company in
1996, and was now embroiled in a complex situation over funding. What
should have been a simple operation was dragging out over many months,
and the outcome was critical to the future of the company. At work, he
presented a calm, capable, professional exterior. At home, the stresses
were becoming ever more visible. Neither of us had the resources to
support each other. The atmosphere could be tense.
On top of all this, I was in the throes
of a classic, text book perfect, mid-life crisis. I had been papering
over the cracks with fevered hedonism for too long now, and the hedonism
had started to acquire a desperate edge. I couldn’t fool myself for
much longer. I felt utterly lost.
Little were we to know that 2000 was to
be our annus mirabilis. The funding got sorted, and K sold the
company for a substantial amount, allowing us to buy a weekend cottage
in rural Derbyshire. Priorities started shifting radically. Our
respective values, needs and interests re-converged, joyfully. I started
enjoying the new job. OK, the work itself was still shit, but the people
I worked with were just great, bringing qualities out in me which had
lain dormant for too long.
But none of this is really what I
wanted to tell you about at all. I wanted to tell you about the queeny
One night at the very end of 1999, I
was queuing to get into NG1, when I heard a gobby young queen behind me.
“I don’t know what you’re fookin
doing, queuing to get in here. You’re far too fookin old for this
I turned to face him, an amused eyebrow
arched. His friends looked aghast and tried to defend me.
“Shurrup, yer great twat! He’s
looking really good…for his age.”
Six months earlier, this could have destroyed me. Now, I just laughed and laughed.