At approximately 7.30pm on 31st December I was headed out onto the mean streets of East London ready to kick 2011 swiftly and sharply in the balls, voddie in hand, whilst giving 2012 the old come hither eyes. Having had what can only be described as an emotional rollercoaster of a year I fully intended to lock 2011 in a box laden with bricks and toss it into a river, the bastard, that was until New Year's Day. Whilst packing away my Yuletide paraphernalia in my disgustingly hungover state I came across a Christmas card from my bestie who had written the following:
'Well... what a year! Ups, downs, highs and lows, you've had it all! But whatever sadness was brought your way, you turned it into something wonderful... That's why I love you. xxx'
Once I had caught my breath and wiped the snot away with the back of my pyjama sleeve I immediately reprimanded myself for being such a negative Nancy. 2011 had indeed pelted a few rather hefty challenges my way yet it had still proven to be action-packed, fun-filled and life-changing in the best possible way.
In this, my first post of 2012, I wanted to give you a quick run down of my Top 20 events that made 2011 a year to remember.
001. And So it Begins: Me and my gyal dem ventured to deepest, darkest Essex to celebrate NYE and as Big Ben's bells rang in 2011 I danced around in my onesie with 5 of my most favourite people in the world. Perfection. This was also the night I began a short and bittersweet love affair with a wonderful fella who did a huge amount to restore my faith in men. Talk about seeing the new year in with a bang eh?
002. Jessi J at Scala: Shortly after she had dared us to 'do it like a brother' Jessie J performed to a sold out Scala and, thanks to my Meerkat lover Eni, I was in attendance. During the gig Jessie recorded the track Big White Room live on stage and I couldn't help but feel as though I had witnessed the start of something very special. Twelve months, four MOBO's and a platinum selling album later I wasn't wrong was I.
003. Hurts at HMV Forum: I am a mahoosive fan of synthpop duo Hurts, or more specifically frontman Theo Hutchcraft, and after a summer of stalking the pair from festival to festival I was off to see them at the HMV Forum. When Theo *swoon* produced a bunch of white roses I knew that one was meant for me. Thus when one came flying toward me I ignored the fact that it landed on the head of a visually impaired fellow in front and claimed it as my own. I'm definitely going to hell but at least I'll go down WINNING.
004. Ace Fuertaventura: When my pal revealed that she fancied a cheeky getaway we literally booked it, packed it, and 2 weeks later, we fucked off. Fuertaventura wasn't Sejal and I's usual destination of choice but this no-frills vacation was just what the doctor ordered. We drank our body weight in free cocktails (including a questionable Mojito that looked AND tasted like a strawberry sherbet), played bingo EVERY night with our adopted family of OAPs and sunbathed on beaches swarming with budgie-smugglers. G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S.
005. The Vaccines at Electric Ballroom: The crowd that rocked up to see The Vaccines in April did just that, rocked. Even the leather clad 40-something bloke stood beside me gave the air a bloody good hiding with the most furious air pumping I have ever seen. I may have taken their track Wreckin' Bar a bit too literally bouncing around so violently that I'm surprised I didn't do myself a mischief! I left the Ballroom drenched in sweat and with a ringing in my ears that I'm sure will eventually result in Tinnitus. Worth it.
006. Wise Words: Just before my Nannie G was admitted to hospital the fam-a-lam piled into my Auntie's as we did every Sunday for feeding. Whilst I sat painting my Nan's nails we chatted at great length about 'life', she told me the story of how her and Grandad's 52 year marriage came to be and the ways in which I reminded her of when she was younger. Nan gave me some priceless advice that day and I will forever cherish that chat, maybe not the bit when she told me that my 'issue' with men was "you're looking for a man like your Father Lauren, give up because you won't fecking find one". Cheers though Nan.
007. Look At Me Now: Summer 2011 saw the formation of a team with super alcohol and burger consuming powers, 2011 saw the formation of Team Leggo. In my breadbin Luke's backyard I whiled away many an afternoon getting drunk and crunk with a group of people that can only be described as ruddy awesome. We bonded over our love of BBQ'd food and Chris Brown's Look At Me Now whilst sippin' on Limitless Juice, laid back, with our minds on the burgers and the burgers on our minds (sorry).
008. Ed Sheeran at Barfly: When Mr Sheeran announced that he'd be performing a free gig to promote his new EP I knew people would turn up in their hundreds to see him, but in their thousands? Not so much. Again Eni came to the rescue and before you could say 'A Team' we were stood a mere foot away from Ed as he performed an intense and intimate set to an audience of 100 fans. Special. Just special.
009. Respect Me, Respect The Family: Despite being raised a heathen and it taking me three attempts to reach the Paschal Candle *cringe* this May I finally became the proud Godmother of beautiful Bluebell Primrose. My Graduation aside it was the most uplifting ceremony I have ever taken part in and I cannot wait to watch over Bluebell as she grows into a magnificent young woman. And more importantly to embarrass her in front of all of her friends.
010. It'sa Me, Mario: My not so ickle brother turned 21 this year and what better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than a nice game of golf, pub golf, dressed as computer game characters. Yep. Dolled up as Mario, Yoshi and a Question Block the Mahon clan took to the mean streets of Brum alongside a troop of Pokemon and Street Fighters on a mission to make it to the final hole without falling over, being sick or dying. Super Nintendo LADs.
011. Glastonbury: After years of waiting for the right one to come along 2011 was the year I finally popped my Glastonbury cherry. We drank cider through a funnel, got within sniffing distance of Nenah 'Buffalo Stance' Cherry, watched U2 attempt to stick it to the man, contracted an Australian accent, met Coldplay's biggest fan, got stuck in the mud, saw a human tentipede (don't ask) and fired our garage guns to EZ. Am super keen to return to planet Glasto, not so keen on having to wait until 2013 though, damn you Olympic Games.
012. Take That at Wembley: One word can describe the rush I experienced as Mark, Howard, Gary, Jason and Robbie took to the stage at Wembley, that word my friends is glee. Despite being surrounded by thousands of middle-aged women I felt 15 again as I belted out their classics word for word, squealed with delight as Robbie de-robed and got all emosh as they asked us all to Never Forget. Don't worry lads, we won't. *tear*
013. Lovebox: Being the festival whore that I am when Lovebox rolls into my hometown of LDN I'm always there with sprinkles on top and my PIC Maggie by my side. Our plans to ease ourselves in gently were quickly scuppered by the 70cl bottle of Morgan's Spiced we consumed before entry and carnage ensued. Aside from shaking our legs to the likes of Blondie, Snoop Dogg, 2 Many DJ's and Kelis we wrestled in mud, had dodgem wars, made friends with all and sundry (including DJ Herve) and got matching neck tattoos, transfers obvs.
014. Kapunka Thailand: When life handed me lemons this year I didn't make lemonade, instead I made a break for it. I quit my job, gots me a visa, packed me a rucksack and before I knew it I was Bangkok bound. Travelling to the other side of the world on me tod was the most daunting yet most fulfilling experience of my life. Way too much went down for me to summarise here so will dedicate a post to my trip soon, however, I will confirm that I visited Koh Phangan's infamous Mushroom Mountain and lets just say that the sand was very very soft for a while...
015. Bestivalism: Bestival by name, best festival in the world by nature. A permanent fixture on my summer itinerary Bestival ends the festival season with a chance to get your rocks off and your fancy dress frocks on. This year I opted for the bad-ass approach and transformed myself into the 'Salt' in Salt 'n' Pepa. Word. Aside from seeing goth rock legends The Cure perform live a real highlight was doing the YMCA with over 30,000 Bestivalites, and the Village People, as you do. Altogether now 'It's Fun To Stay At The'...
016. Working 9 to 5: Interviewing for a dream job the week you're due to fly to Bangkok is not ideal but that's precisely what happened. Sporting a killer Lovebox hangover I headed to my interview, and completely buggered it up, or so I thought. Five days into my trip whilst stumbling back from a gay bar (don't judge) I checked my email, and guess what, I'd only gone and got the ruddy job! Jammy? Me? Definitely.
017. Adele at the Royal Albert Hall: I know what you're you're thinking, and yes, it was absolutely spectacular. Not only does Adele have a voice that can melt butter she also possess a persona that makes you like totes want to be her BFF. As if her track 'Make You Feel My Love' isn't tear jerking enough Adele instructed us to hold a light in the air as a tribute to the late great Ms Winehouse turning the RAH into a starry night sky. I blubbered like a bitch.
018. Abbey Road Studios: When I entered a competition to see the incredible Emeli Sande the last thing I expected was to actually win! 24 hours later I was hotfooting it down to an exclusive EMI showcase at the infamous Abbey Road studios. I was blown away by Ms Sande's vocals, wet my panties during a set by Pro Green and lost control of all fine motor function as they announced their surprise special guest. Twas Kylie. As in Minogue. She took to the stage with a 22 piece orchestra to perform her classics and I took to being in complete and utter awe.
019. CMTF at KoKo: Having witnessed first hand the determination, blood, sweat and tears that Clement Marfo & The Frontline have put into making their band a success I was super duper excited for them when they were added to MTV's Brand New For 2012 line-up. Watching them blow the roof off of KoKo London alongside Wretch 32 was just a weeny indicator of the great things to come from these guys (and gal). Watch this space folks.
020. Movember: Caring a considerable amount about the happiness and well-being of men worldwide, particularly their testiclé and prostates, during the month of November I sported a substantial lady-mo in order to acquire some wonga for charidee. I managed to raise a cushty £146 for my efforts as well as giving everyone in my office a right old giggle at my expense. I wonder if I should add 'Philanthropist' to my CV?
So there you have it folks! I think you'll agree that 2011 seems a tough act to follow but by Jove follow it I will. Being a total advocate that life is what you make it last year my resolution was to 'grab life by the balls' and as it has served me so very well this is a mantra I will most definitely be taking with me into 2012.
I wanted to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all those who have taken the time to read, follow, tweet, like and share ITLT.com over the last 2 months. I hope that you have enjoyed my posts so far and that you continue to do so, with exciting adventures to Switzerland, LA, Ibiza and a few cheeky gigs already in the pipeline I promise you won't be disappointed.
Wishing you all a healthy, wealthy and happy New Year - let's make this one unforgettable!