Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

On New Year’s Eve at midnight in 1999, I was sitting in a jacuzzi with Magenta De Vine … This looks like the start of a very bad poem or possibly an even worse limerick.

Who is Magenta De Vine and what was I doing in a jacuzzi with her at midnight on the eve of the twenty-first century? Especially considering I had only met her about five hours before?

Magenta, whose real name is Kim Taylor, was (and as far as I know still is) a journalist and TV presenter. In the 1990s, she fronted a very popular BBC2 youth travel programme called Rough Guide. Before that, she had worked in the music business, amongst other things as a promoter for the cyberpunk band Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

Magenta De Vine

Magenta always wore sunglasses, day or night, indoors or out, including when she was presenting to camera in a TV studio. No one had ever seen her without them, in photos or on TV.

In the jacuzzi she wasn’t wearing sunglasses. I took a photo of her with a pre-digital camera that had a film in it (remember those?) and – surprise, surprise – it didn’t come out. I think she had some kind of magnetic power that destroyed it.

It just occurred to me that ‘Magenta’ and ‘magnetic’ are almost anagrams😛

So what were we doing in a jacuzzi together? Well, let me first say that Dede and various other people were also in the jacuzzi. We were all guests of a very wealthy magazine publisher at his estate in Warwickshire. The publisher shall remain nameless, but I will refer to him mysteriously as Mr D.

I had met Mr D on several occasions but I didn’t really know him. Dede and I were merely friends with one of his best friends. This tenuous connection had already secured us a week at his villa on the island of Mustique in the Caribbean.

On New Year’s Eve 1999, we were once again free-loading, this time on his sumptuous estate. Apart from the main house, the estate includes several thatched cottages and a field full of bronze statues of Mr D’s heroes.

One of Mr D's thatched cottages and the little convertible run-about he uses when he's in residence

There’s also a wonderful purpose-built leisure area (dubbed ‘The Fun Palace’ in a salacious article in The Sun newspaper) which contains, amongst other things, a swimming pool with a pool-side Juke box, a library with a Van Gogh painting on the wall, a private cinema … and a jacuzzi.

The jacuzzi at Mr D's Fun Palace

Mr D wasn’t with us on Millennium Eve. He was in his other house on Mustique, which incidentally he had bought from a famous rock star, who I WILL name as David Bowie. This is what one part of the house looks like:

The house that David built - the boy has taste...

The house was brilliantly designed. You could swim in the pool and feel as if the Caribbean stretched out to infinity in front of you …

However, that was when we were free-loading in the mid-1990s. Back to the story of when we were free-loading on Millennium Eve…

Those of you who were using computers in 1999-2000 will remember the millennium bug scare. There was a wild panic-inducing rumour going round that all our computers would seize up at one minute past midnight when the number 2 appeared at the beginning of the year-date for the very first time.

I remember being so worried about this that I got out of the jacuzzi at about five past midnight and went and turned on my laptop. When I saw that it was working, I headed back to Fun Palace, where the party had re-located to the cinema, and Fargo had just started.

Steve Buscemi (right) and the scary one who doesn't talk in 'Fargo'.

So… that’s what I was doing at the start of the Noughties, and here I am at the end of the same decade about to reminisce about my personal stand-out events and experiences of the last ten years.

I’m afraid sitting next to Magenta De Vine in Mr D’s jacuzzi was probably the most exotic thing that happened to me in the entire decade, so there won’t be any more stories like that.

But there will be stories about things that I did or witnessed during this incident-packed decade. Some will be mildly-amusing anecdotes, one or two will be more serious…

Coming soon…

In the meantime, another huge thank you to the ten great guest-bloggers who have graced these pages during the last couple of weeks. If you haven’t read what they wrote, scroll down and have a butcher’s.

Comments on: "Coming soon – my stand-out memories of the Noughties…" (31)

  1. mark andrews said:

    Ahhhhh, I remember that night well! You asked what we were doing. Was in Leo’s, Enya’s Dad’s pub in Meenaleck, Crolly, Co. Donegal, Ireland! Two of the members of Clannad were singing, also Leo’s daughters, all the food was on the house and I crawled out into the dawn at about 5am. Was glad to be far away from all the millennium dome nonsense and in a part of the Irish Gaeltacht which I love dearly. The next day Altan were performing just down the road. A truly memorable time, can’t believe it’s 1O years ago now. Nollaig Shona agus Athbhlian faoi Mhaise Duit (Happy Xmas and a Happy New Year) and thanks Ken for such a fun, enjoyable, thought provoking and entertaining blog.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Lovely memory, Mark! As you know, my Irish connection, via son-in-law, is quite recent. But I would love to spend a similar evening to yours – maybe I’ll save it for my 70th birthday!😛

  2. Callie Wilkinson said:

    On New Year’s Eve 1999, I was in the local pub in fancy dress (long gone are the days when I found these kind of antics amusing – fancy dress has become a pet hate of mine). I wore a carefully structured bin bag, antennae and my face was painted silver. Clearly, I should have been elsewhere wreaking havoc on computers the world over. Can you guess?

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Photos, Callie, please!

      • Callie Wilkinson said:

        Hahaha. If such things existed (which despite a considerable amount of rooting around, it appears they don’t) they would cost more than you, or anyone for that matter, could afford! LOL🙂

  3. Who’s the ligger now Ken? Tee hee!

    On December 31st 1999 I was sitting outside my mum and dad’s house in Leeds. He’d lit a bonfire and we were waiting for the fireworks (very ‘new’ millennium) and sipping a few warming treats. My first year for many where I didn’t go to a club for the countdown. I was in a quandary. I’d spent the previous year teaching in Tokyo loving every minute. I had a choice, return to the UK or find more work in Tokyo (my contract was up). I told my parents that night I wanted to come back here to Japan…there was also this guy and the job….
    ……Now heading into my twelfth year in Japan, married to that guy, and a great career to boot.

    Little would I know what a huge impact that choice would mean to everyone in my life and still now I’m constantly finding out. I have no regrets but I do think it would be much easier to buy Marmite if I was in the UK!

    Thanks for making me think about ‘stuff’ Ken. Merry Christmas and a very happy ‘year of the tiger’ to you!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      re liggers – I guess it takes one to know one, Sugar🙂

      Thanks for adding those special memories – I remember those ‘girding up the courage to tell your parents that you’ve met someone special’ moments … or rather THAT moment😛

      I’m a sucker for personal memories of important event, and I hope more follow…

      PS – Will bring Marmite if they invite me to JALT 2010.

  4. Up the top of the Canary Wharf building drinking drinks, talking to friends and watching the fireworks. Pretty good views, as it happens…

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Gavin, remind me, did the ‘set the Thames on fire’ thing work? I heard that the much-heralded wave of fireworks down the river fizzled out, but have never seen evidence. There was no TV near the jacuzzi, so wasn’t able to watch!😛

  5. Gosh, Ken! I’ve just realized it was 10 years ago! Time flies!

    1999/2000 was my last year in high school. I had just turned 18 and my parents let me go to my friend’s party in a neighbouring town. The thing that stayed in my mind is older boys who were teaching me how to smoke cigarettes😉

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Older boys do some terrible things, don’t they, Anita?

      Do you still smoke? I hope the answer is ‘No’!

  6. Laura Ponting said:

    Have you read Magenta De Vine’s recent blogs… I bet you can’t guess who she says she was next to in a jacuzzi at midnight in 1999? Doesn’t beat drinking champagne on the top of a very black Welsh mountain… (or does it?) 🙂

    • Ken Wilson said:

      I will check Magenta’s blog out😛 Mind you, I don’t think I will get another small world situation like the one with you, Ms Ponting!😛

      • Laura Ponting said:

        I LOVE the small world thing. It’s laughable. I was telling a story in a bar here last week about my Benedictine monk friend having an affair with a famous singer. She only turned out to be the aunt of a guy in the bar in the middle of Hanoi! Ha! and Oops! all at once.

      • Ken Wilson said:

        Laura, I think the world needs to know more about the monk and the singer. Guest blog perhaps???

      • Laura Ponting said:

        Guest blog by all means… But I’ve learnt my lesson and Brother X and Top Irish Singer Y’s names are never going to pass my lips or keyboard in the same 30minute time frame again! 🙂

      • Ken Wilson said:

        It’s a deal re names – I managed to tell the Magenta story without revealing the name of the host (although some clever internet surfers have already worked out who it is). I only used Magenta’s name because it rhymed😛

        Anonymity is guaranteed if you want to guest-blog sometime in 2010.

  7. OMG, the Millenium Eve… I am afraid I don’t have such an exotic story like yours to tell but here it is…

    That evening was spent at my brother’s restaurant – I hope you remember it still – and I do have a photograph to show for it here:

    http://twitpic.com/uifkq

    I think that must have been one of the last times I looked at that particular photographer with such a sweet smile…

    But it was a wonderful evening, an absolutely fabulous dinner, great music and as the weather was beautifully mild, we all watched the fireworks by the pool outside the restaurant.

    Marisa

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Marisa, isn’t it interesting how blogs stir memories! I’ve just been reading your post about Spike Milligan, and it brought back memories of listening to the Goon Show on the radio when I was a child – I realise now that I was listening to the best radio comedy that the BBC has EVER produced.

      And now you remind me that I have eaten at your brother’s restaurant, and vivid images came flooding back!

      Have a great Christmas.

  8. Hi Ken!
    Wow! What a story!
    I was in my third year in university then… back in Ioannina, Greece where my parents live, as I was studying in Thessaloniki, Greece at that time…nothing as interesting as your story!
    And thank you for having us at the end! We thank you very much Ken!
    Vicky

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Vicky,

      ALL stories are interesting, and all memories are special. And it’s because we can remember moments, special or ordinary, that we have a voice and something to say.

      Wow – that sounds a bit philosophical!

      Have a great break!

  9. Carol Rainbow said:

    For years we had small New Year celebrations at home with either the oldies or the youngsters, often both. In millennium year my twin boys celebrated their eighteenth birthday just before the New Year so we had just a little bit bigger party😉 It was great fun but total chaos!

    The next morning when I did a quick tour of the house to work out the state of play, I found about four bodies sprawled across each bed. The downstairs carpet – normally pale beige could not be seen for party popper streamers – and more bodies. I seem to remember making lots of bacon sandwiches and coffee!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Carol,

      I don’t know if you saw Al Murray the Pub Landlord on TV the other night. He said that bacon proves the existence of God. No matter how awful you feel the morning after, a bacon sandwich brings you back to life😛

      Hope this New Year is fun, even if the twins have turned 28 and are much more sober.

  10. New Year 1999 ….. hum!?

    I spent it alone. Well, kind of ….. at least without the other half. Simon had taken it upon himself to become a taxi driver for the evening, ferrying people to and from his brother’s big, fancy bash. I can’t remember how much he made but it was a tidy sum and it all went into our Ecuador fund….. more about that it a minute.

    Of course, I was invited to the big, fancy bash but I decided to have a quiet one at ours with the rest of the family. My aunt was terminally ill with cancer and we wanted to enjoy it with her and not really stress out about going very far. I can’t remember what food I did and can only really recall looking out of the window, knowing that this would be the last fireworks my aunt would see. It wasn’t very exciting really but it was special to me.

    A couple of months later, the Ecuador fund was just about ready and Si and I flew over to Quito where I taught English at my friend’s school while she had her first baby.

    The year that followed New Year 1999 was amazing and devastating but one that I will always look back on with very special memories.

    Amanda

    • So difficult to read my post without spaces between the paragraphs! I will try better next time🙂

      • Ken Wilson said:

        Spaces between paragraphs inserted – hope you’re happy with it. I always knew I should have been an editor😛

        Thank you for sharing that, Amanda. Memories of special family members are very vivid anyway, but the millennium celebrations add to your moving story. And what an extraordinary idea to go all the way to Ecuador to be a maternity-leave teacher!

        Hope the end of the Noughties will be good for you.

  11. Thank you Ken! The spaces were appreciated!!

    Ecuador was amazing and somewhere I intend to go back to someday. So many colourful images have stuck in my mind from that time and in fact the pile of materials that Orsi featured on her post reminded me of the ones that I haggled for in Otovalo market! Weird, so I was already reminiscing about 10 years ago before I even wrote my little post!

    Amanda

  12. Anna Pires said:

    Ah Ken! You are a storyteller extraordinaire!

    I’ve been here debating whether or not to share my story as it’s not a particularly cheerful one.

    New Year’s Eve 1999 was one of the saddest days of my life. As you know I battled with infertility for many years, so let’s say I wasn’t a very happy person back then. That year I lost my 4th baby and had a second ectopic pregnancy which nearly killed me. By the end of the year I was drowning in self-pity and going through a terrible depression. Celebrating the New Year and the Millennium was the last thing on my mind. All I wanted was to be fast asleep once the partying started on our street and resist the temptation of wishing for the same thing I’d wished for year after year. My New Year’s resolution that year was never to wish for anything again.

    But the Millennium had the biggest surprise in store for me ever. The one year I did not make a wish was the very year my dream came true. A few months later I was pregnant with my son. And you know how much he means to me.

    I am so fortunate to have had the best decade ever. And this last year, in particular, has been a very special one with all the wonderful new friends I’ve made through twitter….you (& Senan) included!🙂

    I’ve become quite superstitious ever since when it comes to making wishes for the New Year! So may life surprise us all with many dreams-come-true!

    Luv,
    AP

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Anna…

      that’s a perfect end-of-decade story. Profound sadness turning into supreme joy.

      I hope that my blog is – what’s that expression about a church of many faiths? A broad church, maybe? Here’s an atheist using the church as a metaphor!

      The general tone of the blogs and the comments here is fairly light, it’s true. Even so, I would love to think that people feel safe to tell all kinds of stories, maybe make confessions, knowing that the gang who visit this blog are an understanding and warm-hearted bunch.

      I think I speak on behalf of everyone reading what you wrote when I say that it’s a beautiful story, with a happy ending for the lovely human beings who constitute your family.

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