A PRETTY GOOD YEAR
I started this year living – existing – on a £10 a week food budget topped up with five items of food from the Storehouse food bank once a week. I ended it with a recipe book deal, baking biscuits on Woman’s Hour, with a Guardian column, a debate in the House of Commons and regular political and campaign pieces in the Daily Mirror. As I started to write this article, I thought there was no better way to do this than in photographs.
At the end of January, Xanthe Clay came over for the lunch that changed everything…
…and in February I was offered the position of Trainee Journalist at the Southend Echo, my tiptoe into a career in journalism. I say career with my fingers crossed, here’s hoping!
I’ve since had my work published in Observer Food Monthly, Independent, Daily Mirror, Red Magazine and The Guardian – not bad for an untrained journalist with four and a half GCSEs to her name and a three month stint at her local paper.
I made new friends…
…and said goodbye to one of the most inspiring women I have ever had the good fortune to meet, Hetty Bower.
I joined Child Poverty Action Group as an ambassador, and Oxfam, and worked alongside the Trussell Trust to raise awareness of food bank use in Britain.
I’ve been in the news *a little bit*…
…and even made some front pages…
I came out of a closet that was practically transparent anyway, and was overwhelmed at the outpouring of support from my readers when I did so – Thankyou all so much for sticking with me.
I stood up for kale against the odious overpaid twerp that is Richard Littlejohn, in a hastily typed response to an ill-judged and poorly researched smear campaign. He responded in a later article, saying my rebuttal was ‘hilarious’. Hmm. I’m still chomping on kale, and judging by my Twitter feed, so are a lot of other people. Viva la pesto!
I’ve written a book, and am now halfway through the draft of my second.
…and because life doesn’t always go to plan, this happened too:
I’ve spoken at the Houses of Parliament (twice!), at Green Party conference, Labour Party conference, Conservative Party conference, South London People’s Assembly, Urban Expression and countless other public meetings.
Oh, and this happened…
…and these award thingies happened: Fortnum and Mason, Red Magazine and the YMCA, and was short listed for the Guardian Person Of The Year, Groucho Maverick Award, and the Telegraph’s Britons Of The Year.
And I raised £3,000 doing the Live Below The Line challenge for Oxfam, and £3,000 for sleeping rough in a car park for a night to raise money for the YMCA. I’ll be doing both of these challenges again in 2014, and hope some of my readers will join me!
And with the help of the Daily Mirror, Unite, Change.org and the Trussell Trust, this happened…
And this is all very nice and all very bizarre – but really I’ve just been getting on with what I love, day after day. I don’t really have a plan; I’m just saying yes to the things I can fit in my diary that I think I can do, cooking, blogging, reading, writing, campaigning, exploring, and always learning. (And running for the hills any time anyone mentions a TV series, honestly, I’m far too shy. It would take a lot of persuasion.)
So only new years resolutions are to carry on saying yes, and to learn to play the guitar that has moved house with me 12 times, had 2 new sets of strings, and still can’t do much more than D, C, and E. I don’t know when I’ll fit this in but I’ll give it a go!
And I also have some pretty big new news – but there’ll be a separate blog post for that…
Thanks all of you for riding this year out with me – here’s to the next one and all of the adventures that it will bring. Starting with a Sainsburys advert, a trip to Africa, and a book launch. I think that’s enough to be getting on with!