Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Versions of Me - 2014 Update

We're on the verge of my 25th birthday (well, it's a significant milestone to me..!) and I thought the time was right for an update to a post I originally attempted back in 2007: Versions of Me.

Over Christmas Matt Smith bowed out as the Doctor, and in his departing speech he made a somewhat profound speech on the nature of change, and how through change we are all essentially reborn as new beings many times throughout our lives.

In other words, exactly what "Versions of Me" is about - and I swear, the timing wasn't deliberate.

The original article dates from years ago, and is now horribly out of date.

Here then is Me, 2014 - at (almost) 25, with a rundown of who I've been, who I am, and who I hope I'll become:


1: THE UNKNOWN ME - 1989 through 1993

I was born February 1989, not that I can remember anything in this period.

Back then Mum and Dad were still together (and busy producing my sisters...) and Maggie was Prime Minister. Aside from those two facts everything else I know from this period is what I've been told happened - me being too stupid (or rather, a baby) to remember much:-

We moved around a lot to begin with, sharing flats with Grandparents, and Aunties/Uncles. Then we settled in my first proper home - in Polefield, Manchester.

Apparently Dad was a royal pain in the bum, gambling away what little money the family had coming in, so that food became a novelty at times.

I had blonde hair, and was always fiddling with things. When I say fiddling, I mean breaking, or breaking loose. Oh the embarrassing stories my family could tell about me... and frequently do.

2: THE CHILDHOOD ME - 1993 through 1997

Ah, an identity forms!

I'm a bit of a rascal, and probably demonstrate the most confidence I've ever had in life here. I stomp around the Polefield area like I own the place - only hesitating when the bigger kids come out, and show me up. I have a friend called Daniel - probably my only friend outside of my family. Talking of which...

This is a time of family - they are gospel. Dad enforces the importance of them upon me; and it's a time that the family keeps on a growing. Every other week it's as if another new cousin is born, and I'm expected to form a bond with them.

For a while, we are a close family. I visit my Aunty Ivy's every week, or Uncle Roy's, or Uncle John's. My cousins are the friends that I lack elsewhere - at school, or in my neighbourhood.

I was a bit of a loner, even back then. I much preferred playing with my cars, or with my Batman toys - creating adventures in my head. Those fantasies shielded me from a world that felt dangerous, and out of reach. As an adult, I'm haunted by this - a feeling that I'm not able to compete in large groups, so therefore I shut up, don't attempt to, and just quietly exist.

We're poor. Oh the amount of times I beg to go to Disneyland, but no... I ask and ask for things that Mum and Dad cannot afford, and so I do without. Sometimes I look back and am glad about this. I suppose it stopped me growing spoiled! Without money, I think the most exciting thing in life were those adventures I was having in my head.

Of course, Mum and Dad are still together so there's a happiness there. Plus, the country's mood is shifting to one of new optimism. I recognise John Major on the TV, but he's a right old bore compared to those new girl bands, singing about 2 becoming 1, Viva Forever!

Ah, the Spice Girls. Worth their place on my iPod for nostalgic reasons alone.

(Certainly not for their musical talents...)

3: THE DIVIDED ME - 1997 through 2000

Mum and Dad divorced in 1997, and it was messy.

Dad beat Mum up, and I recognise that as a 'horrible thing'; but I'm conflicted because I still love Dad. How could a nice man have done that?

Everything I held as certain is suddenly in doubt. At one point Dad looks like he's getting rid of the family home, and we move in elsewhere... Meanwhile Mum has a new house, in a new area, and it's scary. I'm not near my neighbour Daniel, and we grow a little distant.

I think my school work suffers, because I'm distracted. I'm in Year 4when my parents split, and I'm pulled out of lessons and put into a secluded domestic violence shelter for a week, away from everybody but my Mum and sisters. It means I miss a week of school; but worse still, if I was a loner before, and seen as a bit of a weirdo by the other kids... this settled it in their minds. I was officially the freak for the rest of primary school.

Our family dog goes missing under suspicious circumstances (the adult Anthony is convinced that Dad had her put to sleep after the divorce, but wanted to avoid messy emotions by refusing to admit to this) To this day I miss that dog. She represented a big chunk of my childhood.

And... enter the step-parents!

On my Mum's side there's Step-Dad David, who's a Salford lad, and a little wild when I'm first introduced to him. At this early point he's the Dad I wish I could have had from birth - although our relationship never progressed much beyond this point.

My Dad's new woman is Penny, who already has 3 kids of her own - and so there's a massive new family dynamic right there. I go from the oldest child, to stuck in the middle of a party of 6. I don't take too kindly to Penny, or her kids, and I find myself hating every weekend visit to my Dad's because of them.

Aside from family, there are 2 important areas of note here:-

I start writing short stories (just Doctor Who or Power Rangers related ones at this point; I move to original stories once this phase of my life is over) I spend many an evening in the front room, excitedly scribbling ideas down onto paper. It's fun, and a challenge, and I love it!

To compliment the writing, I develop a real love of television - watching a lot of things on CBBC, but also a few primetime dramas and comedies. For the first time I'm old enough to enjoy Red Dwarf! Then there's Birds of a Feather, and the Britass Empire. A man of taste, clearly...

My youngest sister Lauren is born in late 1998. She's my Mum's daughter, with Step-Dad Dave. Again, with a new baby in the house the family balance shifts. The last vestiges of my childhood stage are over...

Oh, I join Cubs. So I have a bit of a social life, once a week.

4: THE TEENAGE ME - 2000 through 2005

Or 'The High School Years'.

It's amazing, but the four years or so are pretty consistent. I'm immature, and the class clown. If I can mess around and avoid doing work, I do. It means that the lead I gained in primary school is lost. I'm no longer above-average clever, but I still think I am. The teachers resent this, and my rebellious streak!

I don't really mix with anybody from outside of school. Aside from the occasional walk home with my friend Jai, or a girl a couple of years younger than me called Sophie (I liked her/she liked me/nothing ever came of it). It would be more of a lonely existence, if I wasn't having so much fun with my nightly routine. It went a little something like this:

15:15 -  School finishes.
15:15-16:00 - Walk home.
16:00-17:35 - CBBC!
17:35-18:00 - Neighbours (TV Soap)
18:00-19:30 - BBC Two Cult Zone (Buffy, Star Trek, etc.)
19:30-22:00 - Watching Prime Time TV/Writing my stories
22:00-23:00 - Late night TV (most likely V Graham Norton)
23:00 - Bed

Those stories were a reflection of my Teenage life. Tales of love, and loss, and lots and lots of melodrama.

This is also a time of girls! Oh, how I notice them for the first time. A shame then that they don't notice me...

Everything changes in the final year of High School. I'm made Head Boy, and grow up a little. I'm in the school play (Beauty & the Beast) and I take notice of things like my appearance for the first time.

It's a good bit of responsibility acting as Head Prefect, and that extra maturity seg-ways nicely into the next phase of my life...

5: THE COLLEGE YEARS - 2005 through 2007

A real golden age, although I can't see it at the time.

I'm studying a subject that I've always wanted to learn - film! No more pesky science, or maths, or boring geography. I'm great at it, too.

I make new friends. Proper friends, like Jack and Beckie. On top of that, I have my very first girlfriend - Katie O'Donnell, who is properly beautiful. I have feelings for her, feelings that I've never had for anybody else before. It's love, and I'd do anything for her. Words fail me now what that relationship meant at the time; but all the girls I've dated since have paled in comparison to the love I felt for Katie.

She dumped me at the end of college, and that act was the curtain call for this era of my life.

(This is also the first time I have MONEY! Yes, thanks to government grants I can afford lots of things myself, like DVDs, and cinema trips, and dates. Marvellous!)

The family unit evolves again, too. My step-brothers and sisters move out of Dad's. My younger sister Donna moves out of Mum's. My first nephew is born. I turn 18.

I make this:

6: THE UNIVERSITY/CINEMA YEARS - 2007 through 2010

I start this phase in a bad place, a real bad phase. Katie has dumped me and I mope around about it for months on end. Luckily, I start work at Bury cinema, and make new friends. I have nights out at pubs and clubs, and their collective company saves me from the mental abyss I bring on myself.

Work is great! I have so much fun working there. Literally, I work 40-50 hour weeks when I can. Not because I want the extra money, but it's thrilling being there.

Meanwhile, I start university and almost instantly I hate it. The place is run more like a business than a place of learning, and I question why I'm there. I regret staying in the North West, and wish that I'd gone further afield instead. My friend Jack is away having proper adventures out of Manchester. However I understand that I'm in a shit uni, learning only half as much as I could do, with fellow students who hate me (and I hate them).

Seriously, words cannot express how much I hate uni. A psychologist would probably insist that the feelings of resentment there were a react to my first break-up. I think, in hindsight that I should have escaped onto a gap year after college. But I didn't - so determined to leave education as soon as I could.

Still, I make a few films. All of them are shit!

I'm promoted at work in early 2010, and uni fades away. After that, I fail to submit assignments (mostly due to politics with university lecturers) and uni ends with a real whimper. Nevermind I tell myself, because it means I'm free of that place!!!

So I become a Team Leader at the cinema - but my days are numbered. I tell my boss I plan on leaving September 2010, and then my sister announces she's pregnant...

On top of that, I've stagnated. Life has become a bore. I've lived the same routine for too long, and I decide to shake things up. Quite how I don't understand for a long while, until... until...

A job in London comes up.

7: THE LONDON YEARS - 2010 through to the Present

I move to a new city. The capital city!!

I'm 21, and have no friends in London. I work at a cinema that is twice as busy as the one I was at before, in a management team ten times as efficient.

It's a massive shift. Probably the biggest change in my life since Mum and Dad divorced, but the potential this time is for something massively positive.

Ultimately I don't make the most of London, sadly. I spend too long at work, and that cinema (which I once loved) becomes somewhere I hate. Everything about it is 'wrong' and I look for ways to escape and start afresh. It doesn't help that the staff hate me - whether it's at my first London site (Westfield Shepherds Bush) or my second (Leicester Square). Aargh! It's depressing,


I have my first truly adult relationship. It lasts eight months, and informs me considerably.

Right now I'm contemplating what next...

I make this:

And this:

And this:

8: THE FUTURE - 2014 onwards

I turn 25.

I might move back to Manchester, or I might stay in London.

I hope to meet a girl, who I connect with so magnificently and perfectly that I can't imagine a point in my life where she wasn't around.

A few years down the line (more likely 5/10 rotations of the sun from now) I hope for kids.

First, I want a career. No more fooling around. Goodbye cinema, and hello a life in television or film!

See you for the next update!
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