Well, it’s a very happy First Birthday to my Blog.
I spent my weekend cutting a large slice of (gluten-free) cake and raising an even larger glass of my fave cheeky Rioja to mrssvj.co.uk – that slightly strange little blogging baby, I brought kicking and screaming into the writing world on September 1st 2019.
And I’m not going to lie to you, what a decade, that year has been.
We’ve battled a global pandemic, witnessed a pivotal moment in our world’s social justice story, negotiated nineteen new normals, and seen all our town’s triumphs and tragedies, packed into twelve months of total trauma – mainly stuck behind a screen.
But, truth be told, I loved every single minute slaving over a hot computer writing about the moments that mattered to us, as I strived to inform, entertain, educate, and even infuriate through the keyboard.
Seems like a lifetime ago that my ‘ten tabs open all the time mind’ struggled with how to mix my much-missed pure passion for writing with a lived-large lifestyle that barely left time to hoover the house never mind build a bloody website.
But with a few energy-draining activities axed, and some plans pushed aside, I whizzed onto WordPress, built a brand (based largely on my number plate!), resurrected my infamous Sue’s Views from my halcyon ‘B&D’ newspaper days, and I was on it like a car bonnet.
I had planned to burst onto the blog scene in a blaze of glory, of course.
Giving it large, as always, as I flamboyantly launched my assorted tales of life, laughs, and sometime love, in beautiful Barrybados, and beyond.
But then Harry Baker happened – leaving our neighbourhood numb with the shame and senselessness of it all.
And there’s been many a tragedy to talk about since too. The loss of lovely Lee Clements, and the fate of fragile Caroline Flack, to name just two. These saddening stories, along with Harry’s heart-breaking plight, really resonated with our town, making them three of my all-time and top trending posts.
Thank you – I hope I captured these moments in our history with both honesty and sensitivity.
I’ve also been ranting and raving about our incompetent Councils too of course – been doing that since my journo days. Who can forget the Vale Council’s Bin Night Blues, the shocking community snub from Barry Council, and the Tale of Two Towns that is causing division and despair.
There were plenty of Turf Tales too. Our community spirit saw us, gain charity status for #TheGlovesAreOn, Keep Cadstock Alive, Save Sam’s Ward, and get real with the Gobaith Suicide Support Centre Fight.
Along came the Covid-19 chaos, as we all jumped on that Corona Coaster, and braced ourselves for a bumpy ride. Christ, Barry went Bonkers, didn’t it, as we lived through that long, lonely Lockdown Life, learning some lessons along the way…and knowing it’s so not over yet.
Then just when you thought the world couldn’t get wilder, the frightening film of George Floyd was shown on living room screens everywhere. A pivotal moment, in my view, that saw many of us sit up and start taking seriously the scourge of racism that runs through all levels of our society. Yes, for me, Black Lives Matter.
So, for someone, who was slightly worried about what to write, I could have sat in my snug, little creative cave of a study 24/7 and still not been lost for words.
Big thanks to my loyal readers for letting me indulge my prolific passion for writing, and to those trailblazers who have given me the chance to tell their tales.
On a personal level, Mrs SVJ had not only helped me revive the purpose I once pursued so intensely, it has also been the perfect platform for me to try to change heart and minds.
I’m honoured to be; listed as one of Wales Arts Reviews Women of Twitter, a part of the LGBTQymru Collective who staged the first-ever Wales Wide Pride, and a fierce founding member of the Vale Stand Up to Racism Group.
September also sees my platform take a leap into the wider world – check out my regular, print, and digital column in on-trend Style of the City magazine.
It was this voice of the community credibility that saw me pen some prose for our brilliant Barry Magazine too.
Paid it forward too – respect to those great Guest Bloggers who filled my pages with their particular passions, and some serious style.
Thank you so much to those who have read, ranted at, strongly supported, or got actively involved with some of the burning issues my Blog has brought so firmly to the fore.
Making a difference matters to me.
Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
The dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, can be contacted here.