A decade in review

3 minute read

14 Dec 2021

Trigger warning: this post talks about a missing person and some grief. There is nothing overtly graphic.

2021 was footnoted with a significant moment of closure. A moment that’s made me wonder what my next ten years might look like. So when someone on Twitter mentioned they were doing an end of year review, it struck a chord. I’ve followed suit, but extended the scope to ten years for reasons below.

It was the day we finally got Dad’s presumption of death order — the legal death certificate — after a lengthy court hearing with my brothers, our solicitor, and a judge. Going into what I thought would be a tick-box admin exercise triggered a range of feelings and memory jogs. Hearing the situation end-to-end in an earnest legal environment was difficult.

Given his death certificate will be dated back to 2012, it somehow rewrites the last ten years. I’ve been dealing with a father who was missing, and now one who had simultaneously passed away. It made me ponder how much a piece of paper can change things and how one person — the Judge in this case — can state such things as fact. Of course, nothing has really changed, but for many years I saw little value in processing the death using official means. I’d made up my mind about what happened, what more did I need. But I can truly say I’m glad and that this has provided some relief. I owe thanks to my brother for driving this forward.

I’d gotten used to telling the story about my Dad as if it all happened to someone else, and only recently realised this fact.

Speaking of coping mechanisms, music has been the most incredible time machine. What a gift. I’ll opt in & out of this and treasure the fact I can ‘go there’ when the need arises. An album heard in the correct order only adds to the effect.

How much has changed in ten years with the world and my life would be fun to explain to Dad. So perhaps writing some of this down, addressed to Dad, will be cathartic and help me hone the next decade.

  • A few months after your disappearance, I met my wife (she’s great by the way)
  • We’ve had two children (they’re great too), the second being born during a pandemic
  • Oh yeah, there’s this pandemic going on
  • We bought a house, selling the flat. That flat flooded really badly the week before our wedding and we ended up living in a Travelodge for 3 months like Alan Partridge. Thankfully we hadn’t had kids at this point
  • After leaving R/GA - the last place you’ll know I was working (Aston Martin website), I have worked with lots of other places like Photobox, Songkick, Money Advice Service, UK Government, Financial Times, Royal Navy & RAF, and recently Wayfair
  • Colleagues and friends at R/GA were amazing at letting me deal with all this. Still in touch with many of them
  • I’m still self-employed. That’s been going on over 16 years now
  • I’ve stopped playing the drums but hope to bring that back one day
  • Got really into fitness and did some triathlons. I’m not so into it right now, but will be again
  • Bought an electric car - you’d like it even though it doesn’t make the same noise. They’re better than the G-Wiz which you’d probably be imagining
  • Your mates still get in touch regularly to see if there’s any news
  • Occasionally I’ve struggled with this whole thing, but I’ve been fine overall. Its gone from anger to sadness to anger to something resembling acceptance

The next decade

All the places I’ve worked have been varied and have had learning curves. I sometimes question if my consultant way of working is the one I’ll keep long term. Am I limiting my career by doing so?

With the energy drain of the pandemic, processing Dad’s situation, not enough time out of work mode, and the joyous-yet-exhausting rearing of an 18 month & 4 year old… it’s been a lot. I’ve had to put various things on hold and reprioritise.

I find that in times of stress its tricky to know if the sum total or single elements are causing the most drain. I do know that time off always helps clarify these things.

So as a reminder to myself for the next ten years; recognise the difference between optional and necessary pressure. Take more time off, you idiot. Keep being thankful for your friendships and amazing family. As Dad always said, take it easy.

Happy new decade.