I liked the nineties. After all, they began just after the Berlin Wall fell and when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, a few weeks later, it felt as if we were entering a golden age of democracy and general niceness.
It just kept getting better. The following year, the Cold War came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union and in 1992, a Democrat entered the White House for the first time in 12 years.
The 1990s were also a breath of fresh air, culturally. No more "Greed is good". The age of hair gel, Lymeswold cheese, shoulder pads, pastels, Phil Collins and Stock Aitken and Waterman made way for hippie chic, organic food and guitar bands. Even if that doesn’t sound so good, at least we saved money on hair products (and those artificial fibres gave people thrush).
What is the legacy of the “Noughties”?
The answer is extremely depressing: Bush, Blair, Brown (Gordon and Dan), Big Brother, Bin Laden, Baghdad, Beckham, BNP, bankers, Babyshambles, Blackberrys and Britney (for the sake of alliteration, I’ve missed out 9/11, global warming, suicide bombers, Melanie Phillips, Jan Moir, Ann Coulter, John Bolton, Katie Price, Robert Mugabe, Dido, Ahmadinejad, reality television, Kerry Katona, Coldplay, Crocs, Jodie Marsh, Guy Ritchie, Angelina and Brad, Tom and Katie, the Mohammed cartoons, MPs’ expenses, Jeremy Kyle, pandemics, Beagle 2, Sarah Palin, Chris Moyles and obesity).
But despite the two gentlemen above, it hasn’t all been bad.
Culturally, this decade has produced an embarrassment of riches.
I’m not going to attempt to list the highlights, but my own favourites would include The Corrections, Cloud Atlas, the Tate Modern’s Matisse-Picasso exhibition in 2002, the stunning Inuit-language film Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner, Brian Wilson’s Smile tour in 2004, the 2006 Royal Opera House production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District by Shostakovich, Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time series on Radio Four, Goodbye Lenin, the triumphant return of Doctor Who, Downfall and, perhaps the thing that surprised me most of all, a remake of Battlestar Galactica that was everything its predecessor wasn’t. Honest.
However, in spite of the namedropping, I've lived in a cultural wilderness . In the list of the 50 best films of the Noughties, I think I’d watched eight. I missed seven of the top ten art exhibitions, all of the best albums (albums are so last century) and most of the highly acclaimed dramas like The Wire, Sopranos, 24, Six Feet Under etc.
I blame it on having young children (Cyril Connolly was right!) and not living in London.
On the home front, the last ten years have been rather mixed. I began the decade earning more money than I do now. I was managing a London bookstore with a turnover of £2,000,000 and enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the great and the good of the literary world (actually it wasn't that brilliant, but at least the drinks were free).
However, a boy was born and everything changed.
I soon found that the "work-hard-play-hard" life of London bookselling didn’t dovetail neatly with a baby that screamed all night and a wife who was sliding into postnatal depression from sleep deprivation. In a rash moment, I decided to leave London and take on a less demanding role. Goodbye dear canapes!
I paid a high price for my decision: my salary was reduced by 25% and my career ground to a halt for several years (my new shop was the cultural equivalent of Devil's Island).
However, leaving London was still one of the most sensible things I've ever done. Moving enabled me to swap a flat in Twickenham for a Victorian house in Lewes and I reduced my daily commute by half, giving me more time to listen to my son screaming.
In London I always felt as if life was elsewhere. I no longer had that feeling.
On a graph, my career trajectory has followed the same boom and bust pattern as the property prices: gradual ascents with sudden rises, followed by dramatic crashes, tentative recovery and periods of stability. At the moment things seem to be on the up, but I'm acutely aware that they could also change quite quickly. My current bosses are very mercurial.
There is an old joke that goes something along the lines of "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." The last few years have taught me how true this is.
This is, after all, an age of uncertainty. Happy New Year.