Hello, dear readers, and welcome to my last ever column. Ideally I’d like you to have a small glass of whisky on hand, but PG Tips is fine too.
As it's become painfully apparent by now that no small, plucky Sussex-based publishing house is ever going to phone me up and ask to make an anthology of these columns, I’ve decided to simply write my acknowledgements page here instead. I hope that’s ok.
Thank you foremost to the good people of The Worthing Herald, past and present, for taking a chance on an unknown 14-year-old. And humouring her until she was an unknown 26-year-old. Only once in 11 and a half years have you ever refused to print anything I’ve sent you – which possibly meant you didn’t read most of it, but either way I’m eternally grateful.
Thank you to Cassie and Holly, who allowed themselves to be dressed up and photographed for my first ever column, the searingly insightful, ‘Townies vs Grungers: the Big Debate’. I think I paid you both in Milky Bar Buttons, which is more reward than any of my other victims have seen since.
Thank you to every friend who has, knowingly or otherwise, been featured on this page over the past 11 years. Particularly to those who answered the question “ARGH what shall I write my column on?” with something other than “me” – and especially to the wonderful Hannah Smith, who wrote in to defend my honour on more than one occasion.
Which leads me to thank, sincerely, the two people who wrote to the paper complaining I had offended them; allowing me briefly to think of myself as an edgy cultural commentator pushing the boundaries of civil society. For a few weeks I felt like Worthing’s answer to Russell Brand, and guys, I won’t lie, it was a rush.
Thanks to everyone else who wrote letters, emails or tweets too – it was always touching to remember that anyone outside my immediate family was actually reading my stuff. Thank you especially to the reader who, after weeks of whingey columns about my student overdraft, sent me a letter with £10 enclosed. It remains one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me, and I’m getting teary in a coffee shop just thinking about it.
Thank you to my relatives, who never complained when I made them sound ridiculous (or rather, when I waited until they made themselves sound ridiculous and then quietly wrote it down) – notably my lovely mother, whose eccentricities regarding cheese, dressing gowns and guinea pigs were always my favourite to document.
Thank you to my boyfriend, Matt, who has only ever been known as “boyfriend” in case I needed to replace him with a new one. As it happens, I knew he was a keeper as soon as he uttered the magic words, “write what you like, just make me sound funny.”
And finally, thank you to YOU, people of Worthing/Lancing/Shoreham/Littlehampton (delete as appropriate), for buying the paper every week and keeping me furnished with a space to say stuff. Thanks for never complaining when I wrote about living in London, annoying though it must have been. You know what they say – you can take the girl out of coastal Sussex, but you can never quite get all the shingle out of her shoes.
At least, I think they say that.