31 December 2019
So, it’s finally arrived. My first New Year’s Eve alone in more than twenty years. In fact, now I come to think of it, it may be my very first ever New Year’s Eve alone. Something I’ve been longing for, for quite some time now.
It’s not that I don’t adore my kids, I do. But now that they’re at an age where they can do their own things, far from feeling bereft and devastated, I actually feel quite liberated. I’m enjoying the process of rediscovering who I really am, beyond being a mother, a wife, a widow, a teacher, a career woman, a writer…..
It’s not even 9pm, and here I am in my attic, my favourite space in our house, listening to the Jam sing ‘Going Underground’. I’ve always loved this song because as a Londoner, it feels like my song. I can’t hear it without getting up and dancing. So I do. A one woman party going strong in a small, candle lit attic, somewhere in West London.
In another house, not far from ours, my sixteen year old daughter is at her first New Year’s Eve party that doesn’t involve adults, well at least not conspicuously. She’s was so excited when she left. What would the night bring? I remember feeling like that myself once. Spending hours getting ready, meeting up with girlfriends earlier and then self-consciously looking around as you enter the party.
My nineteen year old son is in Teddington, about to spend New Year’s Eve with his old school friends. They’ve kept in touch in spite of being in different universities and New Year at Kate’s has become a kind of tradition for them.
Of course, I’m not actually alone. My mother lives downstairs. She’ll probably come up at midnight to share a quick glass of champagne and then make her way to bed. Then there’s Maggie, my daughter’s friend who’s staying with us for a week. She didn’t want to go the party and I can see it could feel awkward, going to a party where you don’t know anyone. She seems quite happy staying here. She’s FaceTiming her best friend back home in Chicago. I think she might be a bit homesick. She’ll probably join us at midnight too.
In the meantime, I find myself with nearly three precious hours with which to do whatever I chose. At the moment that means switching the music back on and carrying on with the party.
Feeling hot, hot, hot. Wow, that takes me back. Back to Kenya when I was in my early twenties. I was there on holiday with my mother just before starting university. Yes, I was a bit older when I finally went. One gap year proved far too short for me, I took three. Anyway, while we were in Kenya this was the song that played just about everywhere we went from Nairobi to Mombasa.
Of course, I’m back up on my feet, another song I just can’t not dance to. I’m not in my attic anymore, I’m in Mombassa dancing my heart out to the live band playing at the edge of the beach. Human League’s next, and I transition into yoga. My Generation soon blasts me back into action and marches me back to my seat at the screen.
I’ve decided the best use of my time tonight, is to give my script a final edit so I can send it off to the BBC Writers Room. I’ve deferred entering anything until now. I didn’t think anything I wrote was good enough. I’ve been at it for quite a while now and the time has come to get past my insecurity.
Not that I have any false expectations. I know it’s a tough business. Producers and publishers can’t afford too many expensive mistakes. They need proof that a writer can make them money, just like any other business. Quality assurance and risk management are key factors affecting their choices. Another thing they’ll look for is whether they think you’re someone they can work with. It’s a long term relationship, anything from a few months to several years, so they want to like the person they’re investing in and know that they can trust them to deliver the goods.
Talking of which, time to get back to the goods and give them a final edit.
Okay, just finished the final read through and all I need to do now is make the corrections, decide on which logline to use and tidy up the series outline. Then upload and press ‘submit’. Scary, but also exciting.
The final revisions are taking longer than I anticipated. My mum’s just called to see if I’m ready with the champagne. Shit.
1 January 2020
It’s a new year. 2020! I ended up watching Jools Holland and finishing the bottle of champagne after my mum, daughter and Maggie went to bed. Got back to my screen at about 1.30am and on this, the first day of 2020, I finally submitted my script.
Now that’s what I call a great New Year’s Eve!