‘2011 was shit. 2012 is gonna be The Shit.’ Marco
1. Singing The Human League with Theo at karaoke at the Electric Matchbox .
2. Running around the ancient monuments of Carthage with April on a sunny winter’s day, all alone except for the cats.
3. Study club with Marco, reading heavy tomes in silence on the sofa and trying to wait as long as possible before the next tea / coffee / fag break.
4. Watching Lauren surprise Senegalese street vendors in Rome with her working knowledge of their language. Usually they replied to her cheery ‘hello, how are you?’ automatically, then looked up and were amazed to see a small white American woman grinning back at them.
5. A quiet bottle of wine in the Phoenix Artists club with Lauren and Kurt, as the news sank in that we had actually handed in our dissertations and finished our Masters.
6. Striding across the hills of southern France with Laura, Alice, Mary and Kurt, with the Pyrenees behind us and the Mediterranean in front, trying to keep up with four people with a lot more stamina than me.
7. Going to the Lido for breakfast with Emmanuelle and poor little broken legged Rosa, as she tried to deal with being a toddler who couldn't even toddle, let alone walk.
8. Dancing on the roof with my Hackney Wick friends, Dave and Zoran before the Olympics closing fireworks, for which we had the best view in London.
9. Making lists of popular songs which could be used to teach grammar points with Peter on a fag break in the London drizzle, among the tall houses of Bloomsbury.
10. Drinking a cold beer in the sunshine at La Piale, Les Martys, with my mother and grandmother, watching the locals come in and out for their fags and pastis.
11. Partying with the South American cleaners of Senate House in the SOAS JCR after they partially won their battle for fair pay and decent treatment, teaching little children pool with Gardiner, eating huge plates of chicken and rice, and being whirled around the room by spry Ecuadorians twice my age with my sister Jo, who made a fantastic speech.
12. Building a garden with Nicolas, Hana, Janna, Mackie, Apryl, Franco, Nick and Belinda, the studio-K-Kids and the incomparable Farid (who took this tasteful photo, natch). Making green where there had only been grey.
13. Hitch-hiking from the South of France to Paris with Kurt, standing in Limoges waiting for a lift in the pouring rain, jumping over barbed wire to get onto the motorway, and chatting with all the drivers mad enough to pick us up.
14. Running around near-naked on the shores of the Laprade lake with Gardiner and April, floating around in a giant rubber ring, making gin-and-tonics and building fires to cook merguez for dinner.
15. Watching Croatia in Euro 2012 with a choice mix of Balkan football fans and drunks at Zoran’s lovely flat in Tottenham, complete with stir-fry, lager and red-and-white hats.
16. Bumping into Boris Johnson on the London Overground mid-Olympics, and having to explain to Kurt loudly in English who he was because I sadly forgot the French for ‘Tory bastard’ ‘drooling Eton clown’ and ‘arsehole’.
17. Innumerable chocolate pancakes from the breakfast buffet in the Tunisian hotel, to the point where an elderly English couple asked me and April if we would ‘EVER stop eating’...
18. Seeing the Nile for the first time in a taxi at 7.30am on a Friday, before Cairo’s endless traffic jams and smog woke up.
19. Swimming in the Oasis open-air pool in Covent Garden with Gardiner, Marco and Jay in the brief moments of warmth we call ‘summer’ in London.
20. Eating delicious food cooked by Nicolas and playing board games with him, Marco, Hana, Mackie and Gardiner in the flat in Hackney Wick on Sunday afternoons with a hangover. And several cans of Red Stripe.
21. Grahl-fest 2012 for the 90th birthday of my grandad and drinking red wine with my beautiful, funny and clever sisters Jo and Gwen. And making a beeping noise at dinner every time one member of my family tried to wind another one up.
22. Wandering around frozen Kreuzberg, meeting wonderful, inspiring, passionate German feminists and dancing ourselves silly in giant squat parties with Laura, Alice and Kiran.
23. Drinks after a long day of work or study in the IOE union bar with any sucker dumb enough to linger around Bloomsbury after 4pm, notably Jo, Marco, Mary, Lauren, Jack and Jussi but including any number of committed life-long students and drunks.
24. A bacon party with my family, Mary and Kurt to mourn the fact that I would be without pork products for the foreseeable future. A kilo of bacon round the family table in Forest Gate.
25. Breakfast on the last leg of a seemingly interminable flight to Cairo, and a friendly Egyptian neighbour who forced us to eat stewed fava beans instead of scrambled eggs, and became the first of millions to wish us ‘Welcome to Egypt’ as the plane touched down.