Memories · Notes from West London

End-of-the-decade memories, and some calculations

New Year’s Eve 2019. Tomorrow we begin a whole new decade, the 20s, or the 2020s. I don’t recall thinking too much about decades coming to an end on previoius New Year’s Eve’s. We made a big deal of 31 December 1999, but that was the end of a millennium, not just the end of the 90s. When I say “made a big deal” of it I mean that we anticipated it, thought a lot about it in the months beforehand and spent New Year’s Eve on Blackfriars Bridge watching the fireworks. I also approached the whole event with low-level fear.

I didn’t believe that the arrival of “Y2K”, and possible “Millennium Bug” issues, would cause the world to end, but I was not confident that every single computer program would survive the switch in date from 31/12/99 to 01/01/00. I took some comfort from reading that all of the former Soviet Union’s nuclear missiles were dependent on human intervention. They could not be triggered by software alone. If nuclear missiles elsewhere were launched by some poorly programmed software it would still require a citizen of the former Soviet Union to press a button to fire off a response. Although I was relieved that nuclear annihilation was extremely unlikely, it wouldn’t have surprised me if one of the major utiltiies failed to deliver water, gas or electricity here in UK in the early hours of 2000.

I couldn’t remember how we saw in “the 2010s” as a family so I went back to the relevant password-protected file. As noted elsewhere, I type a thousand words most days, in a password-protected document somewhere or other, and have been doing this since January 2006. Reading through my notes for Christmas week and the first days of 2010 has rather distracted me from drafting this piece (there are thousands of words there) but they remind me that on 31 December 2009 we did the following: attended a matinee of “Room on the Broom” at the Pleasance Theatre near Holloway Road, and had dinner at Nando’s in Stoke Newington with a couple of people we used to hang around with in those days. We were home well before midnight, and the children (then aged 3 and 5) were asleep before the chimes from Big Ben announced the New Year. My wife and I shared a bottle of champagne, which meant that I drank most of it, while watching a re-run of “Midnight Run” until well past 2am. What a great movie that is. I haven’t seen it since.  The afternoon’s production of “Room on the Broom” was a cracker too, a musical adapted by a company called Tall Stories, from Julia Donaldson’s book. The songs were great. We bought the CD and played it a lot during 2010, and read the book hundreds of times that year.

On New Year’s Day itself we drove into town to visit the Tate Modern. The Turbine Hall featured an installation called The Dark Room, by Polish sculptor Miroslav Balka. I have no visual memory of it, but my notes tell me that we had fun. They also remind me that we often drove for 30 minutes or more at weekends and on holidays so that our daughter could have a nap, and they remind me of how important potties were in our lives back then. We stopped in Goldsmith’s Place in the City so that my son could use one while my daughter was still asleep. The weather was cold, below zero for the first few days of January.

One straightforward feature of the coming decade is that we know what to call it (the 20s or 2020s). “The noughties” was not a universally accepted name for the first decade of this century, and “the 10s” didn’t sound right for the decade that ends tonight. “The 2010s” sounds okay to me but we don’t need too much debate about how to describe the next 10 years.

For a few weeks now I have been anticipating the following fact, which is only true for a few more hours here in the UK. Right now, everyone born in the 1950s is in their 60s, everyone born in the 1960s is in their 50s and everyone born in the 1970s is in their 40s. Mathematically, it’s inevitable and shouldn’t surprise anyone who enjoys playing with numbers, but the idea that every single person born in the 1970s is now in their 40s seems rather shocking. Tomorrow morning there will be people born in the 1970s who turn 50.

In 10 years’ time we will be able to note that everyone born in the 1960s is in their 60s. In the meantime, I see that Leeds United, the team that I have supported since childhood, will begin the new decade at the top of the league, for the fourth time in a row. All being well I shall reflect more on this in my first Blog post of the 2020s.




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