A History of Jen

This is a 100% true, but not exhaustive, history of my life. Enjoy.

1992: I am born in the week of Suede’s first single, ‘The Drowners’, being released. Celebrations abound. Sets the tone for Britpop to come.

1995: My ostensibly male sibling is born. My mother vomits on first seeing him. I announce to my grandparents that I have a baby sister. I start supporting Chelsea FC, copying my dad (who hails from Southborough, where one of Blur’s previous incarnations, Circus, played their only paying gig in 1989 – the first gig where Dave Rowntree, Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon played together. Sets the tone for Britpop to come).

1996: My earliest memory – listening to ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ by Oasis in the car. Sets the tone for Britpop to come.

1997: I join school and bite a boy on my second day for continually putting the magnet board away when I was trying to play with it. Become star of Reception class for being able to write sentences.


2000: The millennium. I cry because my brother has fallen asleep and misses midnight. Begin to enjoy Pokemon just as the craze curdles. Swap a shiny Dragonite card for a normal Magnemite, a gaffe of enormous proportions. I really liked Magnemite, ok?

In the short people line. Outrageous.

2001: I begin my first proper novel, ‘Marz Chocolate Planet’, about a planet made of chocolate which is melting and threatening to destroy Earth. Sadly, the manuscript has been lost to Windows ’97. Wrote my first script, ‘Goldilocks and the Magic Hair Shampoo’, which was performed to my year 4 class at the end of the year. The entire cast walked out the day before so I cobbled together an ersatz cast, but the original cast returned on the day of the production so I sacked the ersatz cast. I was a ruthless youngster. Also set up my own short story competition for the rest of the Junior years and apparently implemented a very harsh marking system out of 20, taking marks off for bad handwriting.

2002: My classroom nemesis attempts to strangle me with a stethoscope at lunchtime for using the computer to write my novel ‘My Pet Puff the Balloony’ when he wanted to use it, but fortunately survive despite his kiss-off of “I may not have killed you now, but I will one day”. Take 11+ exam in November and do better than classroom nemesis (to his chagrin). And everyone else in the year.

2003: I become obsessed with music after watching the video to Busted’s ‘Year 3000’ on a music channel. I get into Tonbridge Grammar School. Try to blackmail my first crush into dating me by threatening to tell the whole school that he had a crush on the Head Girl, which he didn’t. Make up for it by hitting him with a book on Leaver’s Day and making him cry by beating him at bowling. Have difficulty settling in at TGS due to my dire social skills. Fun memories from this time include being locked in a cupboard for a whole lunchtime to appease someone on their birthday. Am fed Skittles through the hole in the cupboard to ensure survival.

2004: Try to jump out of one-and-a-half floor window in my misery at being lightly tormented by classmates. In 2010, this incident will be mentioned by six different people in their yearbook entries as their ‘funniest moment’, and by one as their most embarrassing moment (by me, obv). Decide I want to be a journalist. Fall off a moving train at Tonbridge station and am told off by train guard for jumping off the train. Cynic. Attend first gig, Busted and McFly in Broadstairs. Make actual friends. Become obsessed with Green Day.

2005: Busted split up. My life ends. Am briefly stalked by a younger boy who threatens to jump off a roof when I reject him, harasses me by phone and threatens to kill me and then himself because I won’t date him. This is nipped in the bud by my dad saying he’ll go to the police if boy doesn’t cease and desist. He does.

2006: Begin liking Blur. On penultimate day of the year, go with brother and father to watch this Tonbridge Angels football team they’d been banging on about. Standing in the pouring rain at the Longmead Stadium, watching a dismal 2-0 loss and down to 10 men, the game is abandoned after 70 minutes when the ball is floating instead of rolling across the pitch. Father assumes I hated experience. The crowd banter/foul language actually made me a die-hard fan from the outset.

An unwise attempt to match the bottom half of my hair with my dress post-GCSEs.

2008: Get decent GCSEs. Win free tickets to Radio One’s Big Weekend in nearby Maidstone, seeing Madonna, Usher (who thinks he’s in Manchester) and personal heroes We Are Scientists. Am so thrilled by the experience that I see We Are Scientists again, this time at Somerset House, and touch their divine lead singer Keith Murray. Enter sixth form. Start up school magazine, Toggle, and turn out to be a rather good Editor-in-Chief. Become obsessed with Britpop and write novel about it.

The Editor, thinking of ideas for the newly-created Toggle.

2009: First issue of Toggle comes out to rapturous reception. Second issue of Toggle comes out to rapturous reception. Go to China on (heavily-subsidised) school trip. Become embroiled in swine flu scandal, though not quarantined. Third issue of Toggle comes out to rapturous reception. Get into University of Exeter to do English, but not the campus of my choice due to awry predicted grades (AAB). Complete NaNoWriMo 2009. Write school Christmas pantomime of Grease, which is approved by Senior Management until they see it being performed and then neuter it with a massive killjoy censorship sword. I would’ve got away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling adults…

My swine flu mask, from the China ‘Swine 09’ trip. Decoration by me.

2010: Become totally obsessed with Suede. Choose Exeter’s Cornwall campus as future university. Don’t vote in election because I’m 10 days too young (ironically, was born 10 days late). Make first sacred pilgrimage to Wetherspoons. Set up ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ blog. Overachieve with A*AA in A-levels after locking self in a room for a month to frenziedly revise English, History and Latin. Go to Croatia with friends on bantastic holiday, which is lovingly nicknamed ‘Gash Quest 2010’, and spend time defiling nuns, accidentally cockblocking Justin Bieber lookalikes on boats and chatting up Roman centurions in Latin, only to be rejected in English. Go to university. Hmmm. Become obsessed with Countdown.

‘Gash Quest’, Croatia 2010 – a post-A-levels celebration.

2011: Uni sucks. Tonbridge finish second in the Ryman Premier. Am unable to see the play-off semi final due to uni, but when we win 3-2 against Harrow Borough, nothing – not even a £63 train fare, impending exams and a 600-mile round trip – prevents me from coming back for the final against Lowestoft Town. Fortunately, we come out 4-3 victors of a thrilling match and are promoted. Start radio show ‘Live From Jenryn’, accidentally insulting the Welsh and the Pope. Somehow end up tragically embroiled in the murky Countdown underworld. Go out on the lash in the Houses of Parliament. Volunteer in Paddock Wood branch of Scope for 2 months, and learn from my 85-year-old colleague how to hypnotise chickens. Go to Reading Festival armed with friends, absinthe and a hilarious Mills & Boon book and see 34 bands, including Pulp (who are incredible).

2012: Have work experience at NME in June, followed by seeing my two favouritest bands in the world live over the summer (Suede at the VERY near-to-my-house Hop Farm Festival, Blur at the Olympic Closing Ceremony Concert). Uni gets intense. Become far more tragically embroiled in the murky Countdown underworld, but regret nothing. World doesn’t end 21st December.

2013: Fall in love, graduate with a First (having locked myself in my room for four months to write my dissertation), get dumped, go on interrailing adventure round Europe (staying in Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Vienna, Venice and Munich), and become record-breaking contestant on Countdown. Enter the big bad world of work as an underwriting administrator for a motor insurance firm (as exciting as it sounds), get 3 bylines out of work experience at my local paper, and wonder where it all goes from here…

2014: Employment and not much else. Return to Munich in April, tear up Dublin in May, and due to go on another adventure around Europe (Belgrade, Sarajevo, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Pristina, Ohrid, Skopje, Thessaloniki, Plovdiv, Sofia) in September/October. Still wondering where it all goes from here…

Being my dandyish, aspiring journalist self.


2 responses

  1. Dear Jen,
    I think that you are absolutely, splendiferously, fan-blooming-tastic! Well done on your Octochamp status, you were sensational, and I’m about to watch all of your games, all over again! Now lock youself in a room for …ooh, let’s say, 2 days, and learn every word in the dictionary, do all the number games (un) imaginable, ( especially 4 big, and 6 small), then win the series! Go Jen, go!

    1. Slightly belatedly; thank you very much! I appreciate your support and hope not to disappoint in series finals 🙂

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