YES I KNOW IT’S A SAD SONG but it makes me happy, because it was Christmas number one in 1994, the year I went away to university, and it reminds me of sitting in my student halls kitchen at Essex watching it on a teeny TV which you had to change channels on by turning a dial and waiting for the snow to mostly disappear (this is how the radio in my bedroom still works). The first year of university, if you are lucky enough to go, is a magical time: you are living independently but with a massive professional support network hidden just out of sight; in my day you had – unthinkably – a student grant (just); you’re only expected to attend about nine hours of lectures and seminars each week (is this still true? I have no idea) and the rest of the time is yours, to stretch your wings, join political societies, drink £1.20 pints of Foster’s at 4pm and fall in and out of love at least half a dozen times.
I address you from my sofa, where I am waiting for a man to finish fixing the dishwasher so that I can open the windows and waft away the strong smell of drains that he has created (via the dishwasher’s workings; not personally) and in some ways my life is more prosaic now than it was then, but it’s also a lot more satisfying and less turbulent, and there are children and dogs involved (not mine, but nearby, which means all the fun and none of the responsibility) and all the people who were important then are still important now, plus there are some really awesome new ones, so really 2019 is better than 1994 I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO and one excellent illustration of that fact is that for the first time this year renewable energy sources have overtaken gas as the UK’s largest power supplier, as the proportion of our energy generated by fossil fuels fell to an all-time low. Good.