A few months before the Noughties began, I was walking down Las Ramblas in Barcelona with my then boss, and he started talking and chuckling to himself, then shouting in French. I really thought he’d gone mad, until I realised he had one of those new-fangled hands-free, in-ear phone thingies; the first time I’d ever seen one. (Or not seen one, which is part of their appeal, I suppose.)
Then, 10 years on, a few months before the Noughties ended, I was in Marks & Spencer in Croydon when I saw a man coming down the escalator, talking to himself. I presumed he had one of those by-now-tediously-ubiquitous hands-free, in-ear phone thingies; and then I realised, no, he was just mad.
That, I think, goes part of the way to summing up the decade. Not my journey from Barcelona to Croydon (there’s another tale entirely) but the extent to which things that so recently were startling, almost uncanny, have so quickly become ordinary, unremarkable. And how often we forget the people who get lost down the cracks that those changes leave behind.
And as the Noughties finally trundles towards oblivion, it would seem a good time to bid farewell, although I may pop up with a few relevant nuggets in the coming months; for one thing I’ll almost certainly be nagging you to watch BBC2’s History of Now, which begins next week. If you’ve purchased my book, thank you, and if you’ve read it, even better. Why not tell us what you thought of it, either here, or at Amazon, Waterstone’s, Book Depository or the like? If you haven’t yet done so, from tomorrow you’ll have the perfect perspective from which to tell me how utterly wrong I really was about the decade, since it will finally have made the transition from Current Affairs to History. I always intended the book not to be a definitive statement, but the opening salvo in a debate, an argument, a conversation.
Over to you.