2017: A Shanky Retrospective

…or, applying the lessons from Cadogan Estates Ltd v Morris and Jacobellis v Ohio.

2017’s been some year. That’s true in many respects, and for most people. For me, though, it has definitely been the case. So much has happened this year that the traditional “Hogmanay look back on the year” isn’t a search for the high points (of which there are many) but more an attempt to make a conscious attempt to reflect on everything that’s happened to me, and around me, in the past 12 months.

Being Together, and sometimes apart
The year started in a friend’s flat. My friends have been important in getting me through this year, for a number of reasons, but a key lesson I’ve learned this year is how important it is to make sure you are a good friend to those who need you. When a friend needs support, you have to make sure you’re there to support them – event when they don’t want it. And sometimes, it can involve you making sacrifices, doing things you’d rather not,  accepting things you’d rather you didn’t, all to make sure they do the right thing for themselves.

A great moment this year was my school and uni friends and me went away to a farmhouse done in the south of Scotland. It’s something that we had never done before and it was great to be able to just spend time with us being (relatively) self sufficient. We even managed to feed ourselves properly, pack a picnic (“Shanky and Cara’s Sandwich Shop” will be opening soon), and plan a whole day trip out. We did also play hide-and-seek in the with all the lights out in the 3-floor farmhouse – but no-one got injured!

Not all parts of the year were great though. One of my two closest and best friends moved to England and, I don’t think I dealt with it well. However, after over-6 months of him living there (and regular visits) him and his girlfriend are having a great time. My friends are in long-term relationships; taking the leap off to different cities; making big career-changing decisions and some are even getting married. One of my closest friends from Uni is getting married in the new year. Things are changing; and it doesn’t seem like the rate of change will slow. I don’t handle change well – but that will need to change too.

That’s ‘Mr. Shanky Esquire’ Now
In some respects I have been keeping up with the changes too though. One of my friends made the point that, of the 7 or 8 of us around the table at that point in time, I was in the most professional job. He obviously overlooked the fact that he’s in the final year of his Law Doctorate at Oxford . Though, I realised then that this year has been a big one for my professional career.

Most importantly, I started my 2-year traineeship in the Partick High-Street firm I’d been with since 2015. This has had the dual effects of reassuring my mum that I’m in my job for the long haul, and reaffirming to me that this is the job I want to do. I love my job, get on well with my boss and colleagues, and genuinely enjoy my job. It’s what anybody wants from the work they do.

And it’s been a really exciting and interesting year too. The highlight has to have been getting to sit behind Counsel in a High Court case in Glasgow that went on for about 2 weeks. The months of preparation behind it, the court process itself, the (not proven) verdict. I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot too. In the upcoming year, I will get my gown and will take my first steps into the court room myself.

Again, it has been a year of change, leading into another.

Sweetened Victories and Softened Defeats
All this being said, I don’t think any aspect of my life has been busier or taken up more of my time and attention than the political – for obvious reasons.

This Spring events intervened and in the middle of March, I unexpectedly found myself as the sub-agent for 5 candidates across 3 wards at a difficult time for us. 4 of our sitting councillors were standing down and all had been brilliant local representatives, and had a large personal vote that would be hard to replace. It would be hard for a first campaign – let alone a second at the same time.

However, our candidates and campaigners were great! There’s no point trying to coordinate a campaign with nothing to coordinate and people who do not wish to be coordinated. With a bit of distance behind me, a bit of space between me and the election, I realise how much I grew and learned in that campaign. I learned how to delegate – and when not to; I learned how to ‘manage’ people – and manage different people; I learned how to lead a campaign – and ask people to let them be led. And I learned how to deal with unexpected and disruptive events…

…such as unexpected General Elections. The day the General Election was one of my most vivid memories of this year. 18th April 2017. I was in work. I got a message saying that a podium was being placed outside 10 Downing Street. I remember watching the announcement. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach. The panic. The confusion.

However, the campaigns went on and The Glasgow Anniesland Labour Team grew close and worked harder than we knew we could. At the count – we waited and worried. But we won! We stood 5 candidates and we won 5 seats. We literally couldn’t have asked for more.

One day, I’m sure, I’ll write a book describing the campaign fully – but I wan’t to share just my most vivid memory from that count: 30 seconds or so when I had to find one of my candidates and walk them up to the results area. I it thinking, expecting, almost knowing, that they had lost. On the way up to the curtained up area where the candidates would be told their results I could only offer vague assurances of a job well done, that we had “done everything we could” and “would not have done more” and “I am so incredibly proud of you” (all of which were true). I wasn’t allowed in the results area, so had to make do with texts being sent to the crown outside.

They won. I had never been happier to be wrong. They was in tears – as was I. I had learned to lie in reassurance – and didn’t even need to.

The General Election too, though, was enjoyable if, unfortunately less victorious. I will ever forget #RunningForHughie, but my standout will be the main campaign. Our candidate that was chosen for us (since, due to time constraints, they couldn’t be selected by local parties), Michael Shanks, was brilliant. He gave all the time he could to the campaign and it was a honour to be his agent. No matter how many other elections I fight, he will always be my first official candidate – and you never forget your first!

A few years ago I did a thing called the Shanky Awards – where I gave out awards to my friends and family for various (mundane) achievements, like best facebook profile picture. I haven’t handed them out for around 5 years, but I am pleased to announce that Michael Shanks has won a 2017 Shanky Award for being my 1st Official Election Candidate and being able to put up with me as his agent.

There is talk of a ‘Labour Family’ which can sound like nonsense to people on the outside – but this year, I really felt like there was a family. There was my (biological) mum and dad; who I also think I’ve grown up with too. But there were my Labour aunts, uncles, cousins, bothers and sisters.I have matured politically.

Nobody knows what will happen over the next year, but I’ve never felt readier to face it.

Going Boldly

2017 has been a massive year of change globally.:Trump, Brexit, The Election, Star Wars.

But for me, too, it has been a massive year of change. I don’t know when you stop being a ‘young person’ and become a ‘young adult’ – and I don’t think I noticed it when I was doing it, but looking back, I think that this might have been the year I made (or started) to make the jump.

Sure, I still have a long way to go – I still live at home, I don’t own a car, I don’t pay council tax or internet bills, but who knows what will happen in 2018? All I can see is that in 2017 I started my professional career, took on responsibility for the futures of others, made new friends while becoming more physically distant to ones that are already relationally close, and I now have a pension.

You don’t always notice change happening; but you know it’s happened when you see it.

Happy New Year and Merry Fresh Annum to everyone at home!


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