2004 was a crap year as far as years goes. Firstly, it was our first year back in the UK having lost my job with Motorola in Texas. Apart from leaving behind some great friends, it almost bankrupted us, thanks to the big ethical (M) leaving me high and dry (or as good as damn it). Luckily we found a decent area to live back in the UK, although not the house we would have wanted. The area is great, but having been used to 3400 sq. ft in Texas, and with all the belongings we brought back, it?s a bit cramped to say the least. I also shipped back my seven seat Plymouth Grand Voyager. It was meant to be a simple task to get that through its SVA and on the road in the UK. And because of one box on the application form incorrectly ticked, it has been sitting in the drive suffering in thermal and liquid shock for the past year, (it?s so damp and cold in Texas you know).
I came back and got a new job working for the (M) but in a different sector than the one that shafted me. Partly because I now have 9 years with (M), but mainly because it was the only way to come back to the UK without being totally bankrupt. I didn?t want to work for them, but in the end it turned out quite good. The job was totally new for me working on Tetra communications systems, and the highlight of the year was being partly responsible for the system deployed in Athens for the Olympics. A few hours overtime was spent on that project.
The next bummer of the year was when I found out that the 360 degree spinal fusion I had done in the US to fix three broken vertebrae had failed. It has failed to the extent that it is no longer fused, and worse than before the first operation. Finding out that no private medical insurance in the UK will pay for any new operation, since you are only allowed one back operation per life!! So I wait for the NHS or go back to the US and sue the bottoms off them to get it done again. I think the NHS will be less painful.
The second major medical bummer was having it confirmed that I need a double hip replacement to top it all off. The many years of sport and the nine years I spent in the Royal Navy have finally caught up with me. It became so bad towards the end of the year that I have taken the past 12 weeks off work and won?t be able to work again until it gets fixed. In compensating for my back, my hips decided to fail in sympathy, so now I don?t only look like Quasimodo, I walk like him too.
Just when things seemed to be going right with my job, I had to take time off with my back which was depressing enough. But then exactly to the day on my one year anniversary of actually landing back in the UK, the big (M) surprised me once more by announcing the closure of the UK group I work for. So 165 of us are going to be out of a job in around Feb/March 2005. This is the reason I run the Engineering Careers Blog to publish all the job adverts that arrive in my email each day.
But in saying that, the Tsunami in December 2004 was just one of the disasters that brought it all into perspective. It may appear to have been a bad year for me, but it is nothing in comparison to that experienced by millions. So although I moan about it, I don?t really have a right to.
So as the end of 2004 passes, I think I?ll write right off the bad parts. For all that happened, there were some good points.
Were it not for my back, I would not have been able to spend as much time with my kids as I have done. They have been the big success of 2004. Cian settled in to school really well and has surpassed my expectations of him in his first year back. I thought it would have affected him more negatively, but it was quite the opposite. He plays soccer for his Sunday league team and gets man of the match almost every other week. I think they only give it to other lads just to make it less embarrassing for them. He is no Beckham or Rooney and it is not the skill of his play, it is his 110% commitment. He covers every blade of grass and even though they get beat 10 or 15 goals (at the start of the season), his head never drops.
He also started playing the flute and in weeks learnt to read music, which he mastered in weeks!!(the music reading I might add, not the flute bit just yet). Again, he is no James Galway, but he loves it and is getting better everyday. He is also more confident in every aspect of his life and this year I have seen him grow up so fast. In 2005, its off to senior school for him, and he is almost looking forward to it, when last year he would have dreaded it.
Tiarnan has also amazed me this year with his school work. His maths has improved a lot, but his reading has gone off the scale. He loves reading his books anytime now and has started to read every bed time, when 12 months ago, he wouldn?t read a comic (unless it had some Pokemon stickers attached to it).
Tiarnan?s soccer has also gone really well considering he had to step up a league to get into a team. He too gets man of the match quite often which considering he is younger and smaller than the bulk of the team shows his enthusiasm for the sport.
Tiarnan is the comedian and the clown. He got a very small part in the School Nativity this year and surprised me with the clarity and loudness of his acting skills. But Tiarnan being Tiarnan, had to get a funny part, and if you can be typecast at the age of 8 in a school Nativity play, Tiarnan managed it.
Eilis who is still only 5, has developed so much this year. She is the idol of all the teachers at her school and couldn?t put a foot wrong in their eyes. (I think she saves it up for home time, but I?d rather it be that way round). By the end of the year, her reading is such that she sits alone and reads herself only asking the occasional word, her math skills are great for her age. She also has her weekly activity but in the form of her Irish dance classes once a week. She enjoys it so much that she has to do it all again when she gets home. We think she is going to be quite tall because she has had a major growth spurt towards the end of 2004 to the extent that she is getting close to Tiarnan (much to his annoyance) and nearly every pair of trousers she owns are getting too short. And if common sense were an algorithm it would probably be something like E => (C+T)2 , (which is the only way of me putting it without having to explain myself too much if either of the other two read this).
So despite my winging at myself during 2004, I am so thankful for having my family with me, and I am a damn site luckier than many thousands of people during 2004.
I should be thankful for what I have knowing that there those much less fortunate than I and be thankful that I am the luckiest person in the world, because no one has a family around me like I do.
But I am glad 2004 has gone and I am very much looking forward to 2005.