End of an era…

Last Monday morning, my vicar school alarm went off for the first time in nearly three months and, as I usually do when my phone alarm goes off, I fumbled under my pillow to turn off the alarm and turn on the radio. It wasn’t until I heard the voice emanating from the handset that I remembered what had occurred the previous week.

You see, the thing is that, officially, I’m now too old to listen to Radio 1. Apparently the station’s controllers no longer want people my age and older listening, hence their decision to drop Chris Moyles from the breakfast show. When their final show finished just over a week ago, it really was the end of an era.

Back in my student days, I had no TV in my room and spent my days studying to the sound of the Radio 1 playlist. In those ancient days, Moyles & Co. had the late afternoon slot, which began around the time that I’d awake from my usual mid-afternoon nap. [I was an arts student with 6-8 hours of timetabled classes a week, a mid-afternoon nap was easily accomplished. I’d usually fall asleep mid-way through Mark & Lard’s show and awake around 3pm when the next show began.] By the time they moved to the breakfast slot, I was a post-grad student and their 8 and a half year tenure saw me through my MA, unemployment, four jobs, a year of vicar school and hundreds of commutes. My friends and I have quite literally grown up while listening to their show.

I know opinions are divided on Moyles. (My brother-in-law loathed the show with a passion and my sister had to do some serious persuading to get it on the car radio on that final morning.) Perhaps as a pseudo-intellectual I should have been listening to Radio 4? Or, being the music lover that I am, 6 Music? Or, being the lover of cheese that I am, even Radio 2? But I loved the eclectic nature of the Chris Moyles Show – the lack of music; the reality; the comedy; the stupidity; their love of karaoke; the ridiculous parodies of chart hits; the personalities…heck, it was even a conversation on the show that pushed me into my hunt for disused London stations. I loved the cheesy songs that began every morning and I adored the fact that one morning when it had snowed he played classical music and encouraged people to open their curtains, before mentioning that there was snow on the ground – beautiful.

For the final 14 shows, I listened with the intensity of someone determined to capture every last moment with an old friend about to leave the country. Their coinciding with my late summer essay crisis was a bonus – iPlayering missed shows provided a welcome soundtrack to my writing, and showing the very last shows on the red button prompted me out of my bed at 6.30am to watch and get on with writing simultaneously.

Team Grimmy on the charm offensive at the Radio 1 offices.

But come this Monday morning, things will change completely. Team Grimmy will take to the airwaves and I doubt I’ll cope with the change. My mornings may become a lot quieter as I struggle to find a decent replacement. A two-week holiday immediately prior to the final shows gave us fans an opportunity to search for an alternative, but I found little that worked. The Today Programme is just too angry for my morning routine and I just refuse to succumb to Radio 2 – believing it to be a slippery slope into middle aged-ness.

However, all is not doom and gloom. There are a few lights in the morning darkness…

1) The YouTube archive of happy memories. My personal favourites would include Carrie shouting at her ex from the umpire’s chair on Centre Court and Chris discovering his 2012 birthday surprise. Oh, and McFly’s tribute to many a year of McFly days (Fridays, for the uninitiated, on which their song Star Girl would be played at 8.05am every single week) will be treasured:

2. The podcast archive. I have them all going back to my iPod acquisition in early 2008, but there are ones dating back to 2005 (I think) and chrismoyles.net apparently has them all. 
3. Talking of podcasts, if you’re really desperate you can subscribe to a podcast that releases an archive Chris Moyles show every week day, beginning in 2004. You could almost pretend that it was live – as long as you’re ok with living in a world where George W. Bush was about to be re-elected President…
But I suppose, eventually, we’re all going to have to move on. It was great while it lasted, but perhaps it’s time to be a proper adult in the morning? Maybe this will propel me into a proper quiet time + pilates routine before breakfast? Perhaps I’ll get up even earlier than usual? 
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

The number 3 and the letter O

Or, if you will, simply the dreaded 30…

The trickle of 30th birthday invitations is beginning to snowball and within 6 short months it will be akin to an avalanche.

That’s not me boasting about the number of social engagements I have to go to, I would hasten to add, simply a reflection of the point in my life that I now find myself at. Generally, I find that the bulk of my friends are spread across the academic years immediately above and below mine, which meant that the 30th’s started last autumn, but will really get going when ‘my year’ start in September this year. [To explain to the non-Brits. The cut off for the school year is August 31st – so I’m one of the youngest in my year…]

What’s struck me of late is the variety of invitations I’ve acquired. (I did, of course, have to be going off on some kind of random tangent with this!) These days the standard is a Facebook invite – pretty impersonal, but gets the job done nonetheless – with the added bonus of being able to see who else is invited. Others choose the simple e-mail, whilst the corporate whores amongst us issue Outlook meeting requests…

What came as a total surprise was an engraved, ivory card invitation to a quiet soiree – this particularly invitation is significantly more sophisticated than most of the wedding invites I’ve had, though that may say more about my class of friends than anything else! The fact that the invitation’s resulted in a degree of intrigue amongst certain social circles is an added bonus.

Thank goodness most of my contemporaries will hit the number of doom before I do. Partly because I’ll get to sample many celebrations before planning my own – so I should have plenty of ideas; and also, I’ll get to gloat over my ‘still in my 20s’ status in the company of elderly 30 somethings. Cruel I know, but my day will come and others will take their turn in inflicting emotional age-related anguish upon me. (For those friends that would like to hit me right now, take solace in the fact that amongst my ‘girls’ I’m one of the oldest and am already enduring taunts about how close I am to becoming ‘officially old’.)

And my plans for this weekend? Another 30th of course. In fact, this particular friend is being greedy by having two celebrations, over 100 miles apart. [Yes, this is the out of town trip dilemma from the previous post. Dilemma was resolved surprisingly painlessly.] So, I am off to Bath, home of Jane Austen, to see if I can locate my own Mr Darcy. Well, a girl can dream, can’t they?

Age and beauty

I had a sobering moment today, when on arrival at Cambridge train station I realised that it was pretty much eleven years to the day since I’d come up for my (ultimately unsuccessful) interview at the prestigious institution. For about 30 seconds I felt terribly old, especially as all about me were fresh-faced 17 year olds about to endure the same experience.

However, the feeling completely dissipated when my taxi driver’s reaction to my colleague’s request to take us to King’s College was: “Oh, it must be interview time again! Good luck.”

We were delighted. Neither of us look 17, or even a mature 19. I know he’d only had the slightest glimpse of my appearance, but I was very heartened!

As an aside, the interviewee spotting continued as we walked around the town, but what amused us most were the boys forced into smart suits and accompanied by their mothers. When, exactly, did it become commonplace for parents to accompany their offspring to interviews?

Reflecting upon this, it turned out that C’s mum had gone with him to his and my mother had gone with my sister to hers. I, on the other hand, went completely on my own. This leads me to two conclusions:
(i) My parents don’t love me. (This was C’s suggestion, he reckons they’ve been hinting at it for years!)
(ii) I’m a fiercely independent individual.

I don’t think it’s the first! In retrospect, it was probably just a combination of pre-Christmas busyness; a mother who at that point still had a ‘proper’ job and my own resourcefulness. Mother, if you’re reading this, don’t worry – I don’t hold it against you.

On living with an 18 year old:

I currently have a temporary flatmate in the shape of an 18 year old living in London for the first time to go to drama school.

It also just so happens that I’ve known this girl since she was 6 and her family’s amongst my closest friends, so this venture has been a bit of a challenge for both of us. (She went through a phase in her mid-teens when she thought I was deeply, deeply un-cool. No idea how she could have got that idea!)

Generally, it’s lovely. Often when I get in from work she’s sat on the sofa knitting a cardigan for her little sister and watching Hollyoaks. She’s also very handy for getting plot updates on Hollyoaks and the latest Strictly Come Dancing news.

Then there are the challenges:

– I feel old. Did I have this much energy when I was 18? Working, going to drama school, clubbing, exploring the city… I got in on Friday night at 9pm and went to bed very soon afterwards because I was totally shattered.

– The things I have to keep a secret from her mother. Like her tatoo, which I tried not to be shocked by, even though it was much bigger than I’d expected. Or what she got up to when her friend came to stay.

– Not worrying about her travelling home from her shift in a Camden bar using that eccentric mode of transport: the night bus.

– Making me feel deeply uncool when she talks about bands I’ve never heard of because they don’t even make the Radio 1 playlist. (Although when I mentioned that she could pick any of my music to put on her ipod, the first thing she went for was my S Club 7 back-catalogue…)

– Educating her in the ways of communal living – doing your washing up and emptying the bin from time to time.

– Making me feel old. Sorry, did I mention that already??

Anyway, I’m actually really grateful that she’s here as not having found a permanent new flatmate yet would have meant that I’d have been paying double the rent this month! And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that in the eyes of an 18 year old a 27 year old would be rather advanced in years.

Realising how quickly 11 years has passed

Today I got a text which had me confused for about a minute:

“This is Walt’s new phone number.”

Sounds simple really, doesn’t it? Except I’ve not had a Walt in my phonebook before.
This is because, until today, Walt has not had a mobile. Tomorrow, Walt starts secondary school and thus, like his 2 older sisters before him, he now has a mobile and a key to the front door.

This is a child whose birth took place just before my GCSEs; who I babysat every morning whilst his siblings went to school; who kept me company during the Sydney Olympics; who used to watch Spiderman on repeat hanging upside down from his climbing frame… I can even remember going with his mum to pick him up from his very first day at primary school!

How can he now be old enough for secondary school??

Tonight he called me (in the mad rush of Monday evening pilates & cooking dinner I’d forgotten to reply to his text!) and he sounded so excited. In his words, tomorrow he “gets to go to school for 2 hours in full uniform!”. Bless him.

Good luck Walt!

[NB – I’m sure very few people have a Walt in their phonebook. Walt is of course short for Walter and has siblings called Maisie, Meredith & Doris. I will defend their parents’ name choices forever, they’re not weird at all!]