Like Jasmin wrote, isn’t it striking how few summary blogs/lists/etc we’ve seen of things from the, err, the 2010s? I think so. The only thing I’ve really seen is Sandra Beijer’s excellent summary, and it made me think of my own 2010s. They’ve been a complete whirlwind of metamorphoses. There’s lots I’d like to forget, but even more I’d like to remember so I dug up my old blog and took a look.
I was 20 years old in 2010 and I started off the year being homeless in London. Yes, it’s true. I never slept rough but I stayed at hostels and on people’s couches for a few weeks before finding a room. It sounds absolutely crazy now but at the time it seemed sort of… normal? I didn’t really think I had anywhere to go. No savings and no-one to turn to. I had just left my job as an international fashion buyer and worked at a pub in East London (some of you might know it—Catch!), I went out more or less every night and did a few ad-hoc gigs in-between where I did everything from modelling to styling to handing out flyers.
I was still hanging out with parts of London’s fashion crowd and did a photography job backstage at JW Anderson during London Fashion Week.
Some friends and I were invited to take part in a music video that was recorded in a suite at a Belgravia hotel. It paid £50 and there were free food and drinks all day which seemed like the biggest win ever.
I went out a lot during the first six months of the year and I remember it getting less and less fun, almost by the day. I was yearning for something else. I’d spent two years in London, first working as an international fashion buyer 2008-2009 and I did the odd styling job in 2010, but I don’t think fashion was ever really for me. I initially loved the scene, being part of a crowd, always finding myself on guest lists during London Fashion Week and what-not, but I never managed to get properly stuck in when it came to the actual work. I seemed to wander aimlessly.
Meanwhile, I remember reading my flatmate’s course literature almost back to back. I started toying with the idea of going to university, which seemed laughable considering the life I led. But then I visited my dad and my step mum in Helsingborg and my step mum almost shook me and said: ”you’re moving back home, now”. I didn’t even think that there was a ”home” to move back to, so it was surprising to hear her say that. I moved from home when I was 15 and the flat I’d lived in back in Sweden was long gone. But she opened hers and my father’s home to me when I was lost and clearly on the wrong track, and I’m very grateful for that.
And so I started to say farewell to London.
I featured in a photoshoot for a fanzine I’d done a bit of work with before. They titled it ”Sandy leaves London” and here I am, outside the shop where I worked 2008-2009. You might recognise the Boy London t-shirt in the window—the shop was owned by the founder of Boy London and we relaunched the brand in 2009 which was a huge commercial success.
The peak was probably when Rihanna wore it when she was on the Jonathan Ross show.
We went to Paris on a whim. We hadn’t booked a place to stay but thought ”it’ll work itself out”, and weirdly enough it did. We stayed with an old acquaintance of mine, walked the streets of Paris during the days and went out at night. Looking back at all these wild endeavours I’m pretty amazed that nothing ever went more wrong than it did.
I went to Manchester and did an interview with Tourist Magazine. The interview was published in Tourist Magazine and also a South African magazine called PaperCity, where they put me on the cover (!).
I spent the summer living with my father and step mum and working at their restaurant. I did a 360 review of my life, spent a lot of time thinking about my London experiences so far and where I wanted to go next. I went to the library and read loads about history in the Middle East(!). Meanwhile, someone left a comment on my blog asking me if I wanted a penpal—yes, the snail mail kind. I thought it seemed like the best idea ever, and it sort of was. He was known as Mr Penpal in the blog and over the next few months, we wrote letters to each other almost every day.
That summer I also applied to do a standalone module in Human Rights at Malmö University. I applied after the application deadline though, so I ended up very far down on the waiting list. That wasn’t good enough, and Helsingborg made me itchy. A London friend of mine, Jana, was also sick of London and was planning on moving back to her native South Africa. On a whim I asked her if I could join her for a couple of months as I figured out my next move. She said yes and I took every penny I’d made during the summer and booked my flights.
But before leaving for Cape Town, I invited Mr Penpal to come and visit me in Sweden. And so he did.
We spent a glorious week together, going to the opera, making food, visiting the library, going to the cinema. We’d spent three months writing each other almost daily but never heard each other’s voices before he flew to Sweden. It was… wild. I mean it was magical actually. I’ll remember it forever.
And two days after he left, I moved to Cape Town.
I dyed my hair pink and never wore nothing but cropped tops.
And bungee jumped 216 metres.
I went roadtripping through South Africa with Jana and her father.
I decided to do a campaign to raise awareness around HIV/AIDS on International AIDS Day, so I designed and printed t-shirts, sold them online and donated all the proceeds to UNAIDS. I read a lot about HIV/AIDS at the time since it’s a big problem in parts of South Africa.
I spent my days working at a shelter for homeless women and children.
I didn’t climb Table Mountain which I regret to this day.
I spent a lot of time in South Africa thinking about going to university. I knew I wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure where to go or what, exactly, to study. Jana, her step mum and I talked loads about this and eventually, I decided on political science. I applied to several universities in the UK but my number one choice was Aberystwyth University in Wales. I wanted to study in the UK, but I wanted to be as far away as possible from London. I was still scarred from my early London days and wanted to get to know new people and form a new life.
And so the year ended with me applying to five different universities, having spent months in South Africa and being in a much, much better place than when the year started. And I think that’s obvious from just looking at the pictures, comparing the start to the end of 2010. I was a whirlwind of a year and ended infinitely better than it started.