Yes it’s February. Yes, the summation of the previous year should occur around the January the 1st time frame. The whole concept of looking forward to the next year is somewhat null if you are already approximately 10% of the way through it. What can I say? I’ve been a very busy boy. I’ve just worked ten days in a row across two continents (get in there Africa!) and there’s been barely enough time to sleep and eat. This entirely negates the first two weeks of January when I spent hours rolling around in my own filth and generally not getting up before midday but then I’ve always been guilty of ignoring certain truths in favor of my own indulgence, so why change now?
2014 was really quite the year.
I’m relieved I am able to write that. Without sounding as if I’ve spent the last few months trekking through every self help book going, there was a lot to be grateful and thankful for. 2014 was many things, but in essence it was everything that I could have hoped for. While the previous annum saw me wallowing in self-pity and half-heartedly shuffling from second to second, this 365 day cycle has been a series of challenges and rewards that have allowed me to learn and grow in both positive and yes, sometimes negative ways. 2013 may have been the year of abstinence and sobriety but 2014 was the year of excess, hard work, and because of that toil, success. And then of course, following that, a hearty haze of smarmy self-satisfaction to bathe in. If I pretended to be noble, not one person would believe it.
There are two factors that have really driven my year. Firstly my career. When I spent two years traveling the world, there was always this tiny niggling doubt in my mind that instead of going on a massive jolly around the globe, I should instead be focusing on work. When I jacked it all in at the end of last year, picked up my backpack and moved up to London with no prospects or job or home I had no idea how it would pan out. I’m extraordinarily lucky that it’s gone so well. I owe a lot of that to other people, particularly one who took a risk in pushing my name out there and has been consistently incredible since (I think the next thank you may have to be a bit bigger than a bunch of flowers). Furthermore their have been various people of all levels in the televisual hierarchy who have gone out of their way to teach and help me develop and some who have taken a gamble on my not being atrocious that I hope has paid off. Whilst the television industry has its fair share of backstabbing and self serving behaviour, there’s a lot of people whose actions have fallen far from that particular poisoned tree. Thanks lads and ladies. It’s been a pleasure and I owe you.
To be sat here at the end of 2014 (*cough* artistic license *cough*) with the roster of shows that I have on my CV, I couldn’t be luckier. With two series of ‘Gogglebox’, the tenth year of ‘The Apprentice’ and a summer of ‘Geordie Shore’ under my belt, I’m ready to hit 2015 harder than ever. I’m on the right track. I’m going full steam ahead. I’ve run out of valid transport metaphors. Either way, I’m happy and I’m grateful, and thus, I cannot ask for more. Except for an Iphone. If someone wants to give me an Iphone, that’s perfectly acceptable.
The second factor that changed my life was the arrival of my nephew. As my parents will attest – possibly scream from the rooftops – one of my more negative attributes is a sense of independence that can sometimes translate as a detached coldness. When my brother announced he was due to have a baby, I’ll admit that at first I didn’t know how to feel as I have the paternal instincts of Fred and Rose West. Bowen’s first months were spent in Canada, as his wife is – a shock this one – Canadian, so even then, I wasn’t sure on how I would deal as ‘Uncle Joe’.
Note: Just for prior warning, the next paragraph is liable to make you vomit up a saccharine rainbow. Apologies. I’m still an original bad boy. I swear.
But then, I actually met him, and I can quite honestly say that I’ve never felt so much love for another human being. It wasn’t instant, and it took a good few months, but having Bowen in my life has enriched it beyond belief and made me a happier person. The joy that I get when he smiles when I walk into a room is ridiculous and something I never thought I’d experience. I can’t wait to watch him to grow up into an incredible man. Just like his uncle.
The one negative aspect of this entire situation, is that I’ve somehow morphed into that sort of ridiculous entity that introduces myself as “Hi, I’m Joe, nice to meet you AND HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PHOTO OF MY NEPHEW OMG ISNT HE THE MOST AMAZING THING LOOK AT IT LOOK AT IT YOU ARENT LOOKING HARD ENOUGH AT THE PHOTO FOR GODS SAKE.” I’ll get over it. Possibly.
Among other less trivial things, 2014 has taught me a set of valuable lessons that will remain embedded in my consciousness for a long time to come. As we can all learn from my many mistakes, here, presented for your pleasure is a selection of such lessons in order of importance:
- Bring someone home from a date and start getting frisky on the living room sofa. But never without first checking behind the lounge curtains to make sure your housemate and two of your colleagues aren’t hiding there themselves stuck listening to you get to second base for fifteen minutes when “things went from 0-60 in less than ten seconds”. Or do, if that’s your kind of thing.
- Never try and prank your housemate, by hiding behind lounge curtains, unless you fully think the situation through. Mr Terry, Mr Greenhill and Mr Berry, I hope you’ve learned your lesson. 10/10 boys.
- Never bring someone home from a night out without first checking whether or not they have the sort of epilepsy sensitive to you turning the light on to ‘get a better look’ mid-coitus.
- When I grow up, I want five Rottweilers.
- Being midway through filming a series of ‘The Apprentice’, is not an excuse to use the line ‘It’s just a bad investment of my time’ to cease relations.
- Wrapping Secret Santa presents in front of their receiver is bad etiquette. Getting the hotel receptionist to do it for you however, is just plain savvy.
- Never steal breakfast from an unsteady hotel breakfast bar unless you wish to achieve approximately five hundred quid’s worth of damage coupled with a round of applause from a drunken Liverpudlian wedding party. Its called Karma and that night, I was it’s bitch.
- Never use the M6. Or the M1. If you are too tired to park your car, your neighbour will do it for you after asking several times if ‘you are drunk.’
- Never get your honey where you get your money. Unless they are acceptably good looking. Or, you know, might get you a promotion on the next series.
- Good cheese is a right, not a privilege.
Here endeth the lesson. Though may I just once again repeat ALWAYS check behind your lounge curtains before attempting to engage in living room frivolities.
I didn’t make any resolutions last year and as such, had no real expectations for where that old long and winding road would take me. It seemed to be a good approach. No expectations, no disappointments. This year, I’ve decided to take a somewhat differing angle. I’ve made goals in regards to my career and have also decided to reinvent myself as a ‘nicer’ person in 2015. Other than that, its all sex, drugs and rock and roll. Except no drugs. Or rock and roll. I’ve never much cared for rock and roll.
Finally, I think the Song of the Year represents my optimism in a succinct four minute package. For me, the defining moment of 2014 came in the middle of March, driving down the M1 motorway at 4am heading back into the centre of London. I was tired beyond belief. It had taken me seven hours to get to the ‘Gogglebox’ house after a diversion had hit another diversion. I’d had no sleep. I hadn’t seen my friends for weeks. The only thing keeping me awake was an empty stomach coated in a thick layer of caffeine and a cardboard smoked salmon sandwich. But then, this song came on the radio and something switched in my brain. In a single moment, I let every single niggling, screaming ache from the last eight months disappear. And it’s stayed that way since. I’ve listened to that song over and over again – I’m listening to that song as I write these words. It’s a testament. People still have the capacity within them to change. Old dogs can still learn new tricks. I can still end the next year as a ‘nice person’ and even if I don’t, I might still be able to end it with a tan and that’s pretty much on the same level.
Here’s to 2015. Whatever that might bring.
Here’s to reinvention.
Song of the Year – Jonny Lang – Blew Up The House