April 26th, 2007


40, 30, 20, 10

My tenth birthday was on a Tuesday. I don't remember a lot about it. I was living here, in the house my parents had moved to a couple of months before I was born. I was in my second last year at St Anne's Primary School; I have totally lost touch with my friends from then (unlike the friends I made when I moved to the grammar school next door in 1978, all of whom I still email from time to time).

In the outside world, Queen Elizabeth was celebrating her Silver Jubilee. President Carter was three months into his term of office. The Ulster Workers Council were preparing for their second general strike, which turned out to be a fiasco. ABBA were at #1 in the UK with "Knowing Me, Knowing You", and Thelma Houston was at #1 in the USA with "Don't Leave Me This Way" (later of course covered by the Communards). Perhaps more significantly, The Clash has just released their first album.

My twentieth birthday was on a Sunday, and I remember it rather better. I was in my first year at Cambridge, living here, and after a morning's work in the college library had a romantic afternoon and dinner with my girlfriend. In those days I still thought I might be a physicist with a strong interest in politics rather than (as it turned out) a political activist with little remaining interest in physics.

In the outside world, Gary Hart's presidential campaign was approaching its, er, premature climax. The Reagan presidency was staggering to its end. Mrs Thatcher was preparing for her third (and as it turned out last) election victory. Madonna was at #1 in the UK with "La Isla Bonita" and Aretha Franklin and George Michael in the US with "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)".

My thirtieth birthday was on a Saturday, and I remember it very well indeed. I was living here, and working in my first international politics job. I spent most of the day in the office, there being little else to do since Anne (heavily pregnant with Bridget) was still in Belfast. But I had a party in my apartment in the evening, with all my colleagues and my friend Patrick (who just sent me a note, ten years on); still have the photographs somewhere.

In the outside world, the last few days of the British election campaign were unfolding with Labour certain of a storming victory. Horrible massacres were happening in Algeria. R Kelly was at #1 in the UK with "I Believe I Can Fly", and #1 in the US was "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" by Puff Daddy featuring Ma$e.

My fortieth birthday is today. More later. Perhaps.