The start of a new millennium. We were all happy and the only way was up. We had no war on terror, our pay was only going up and the world was a sunny, sunny place.
I won’t bore you with the details on the job. From now until about 2005 my job generally involved me shouting at people, them digging holes and building stuff and me paying them. I got quite good at this and having just finished building my house extension I can’t believe I forgot most of it in so little time.
2000 saw two major events in my life. One happy and one sad.
I’ll do the sad one first, just so you can juxtapose it to the happy one and realise how the mind of a man is really just the mind of a big boy.
As a little boy I had a fascination with motorbikes. I liked scramblers, choppers and all things two wheeled and petrol.
There was one person who embodied my complete fascination with motorbikes and that was Joey Dunlop. In May 2000 I went north with a bunch of lads to the northwest 200 where we watched him work the course on a VTR SP2 – The bike was a dog and he had to do plenty of work on it to get it ready for the TT.
The TT went well for him and I made it back from the Northwest in one piece. Quite a feat as I had made it back from Dublin (before the motorways) at an average speed of 100mph. Horribly irresponsible.
Then one sunny day at the start of July I was sitting on my front step drinking a cup of coffee with the radio droning on in the background. Would I wash my GLXi? Would I cut the grass? Would I have another cup of coffee? Life was so full of complicated decisions back then.
The announcer finished up the news report by ‘just mentioning’ that Joey Dunlop had been killed in a race in Estonia. That was my JFK moment. I never understood what a JFK moment was until then. I can remember the whole scene vividly. Sitting on the step, watching the world go by and nobody caring a jot.
Things were never the same after that and I really felt that my dreams of boyhood started to end then and there.
But not before I bought a Joey Dunlop Arai and replaced the Blackbird with a newer version of the same thing.
Now for the good bit of 2000. We went on a great holiday in 2000. We flew to Nice and drove around the south-east of France. We made it from Nimes to Florence and all points in between.
To put the following in context we’d been going out together now for about 10 years and the chances of making a decent woman of her were as far away as they had been 10 years previous.
We were having dinner in a beautiful restaurant in a little village in Provence called Saint Rémy de Provence and the conversation turned to ‘the future’. Now, if you’ve never been in a long term relationship any reference to ‘the future’ is to be avoided at all costs. It is like being handed a grenade in one hand and a pin in the other and being told to re-insert the pin.
As a famous blogger from Saff Lahandan would say – I was sweating like a gerbil in a gay bar.
I had 3 options – Say I’d marry her there and then. Looking back on it this seemed like the sensible option but back then that was (for me) akin to volunteering to to sing the national anthem to Ian Paisley.
Say I wouldn’t marry her? No, that wasn’t on either as I did (still do) really love her.
No I did what any good politician would do – I came up with a 5 year plan.
I agreed, there and then, that within 5 years we’d be married, living together (you’d think that would be part of the first one, wouldn’t you?) and have kids. I thought 5 years was a fair enough time-line for this sort of thing and it seemed to calm the other half. As far as I was concerned from that point on we were engaged. Little did I know that I had to get down on bended knee, with t’ring and do the ‘will you marry me?’ bit. I got the hint in August when I got a week of ‘picture, no sound’.
If you ever do feel romantic my only advice about dinner in Saint Rémy de Provence is to avoid Lavender Creme Bruleé. If you like chilled toilet duck flavoured custard then order away.