Go Shorty, it’s our birthday! Let’s party! - Andy Richardson celebrates five years of Weekend
Five years. Can you imagine it. It feels like only yesterday that we were sitting around a beautiful wooden table conceptualising.
Erm, sorry, I meant coming up with ideas for your fabulously utilitarian, aesthetically desirable, humorously knowing and the-weekend-isn’t-complete-without-it guide to fashion, entertainment, food, telly, travel, lifestyle and other things that make you and us smile.
Ladies, gentleman, gender neutral Paloma Faith babies and others, it’s our birthday. We’ve recorded our own mix tape – it’s starts with Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday and segueways through 50 Cent’s In Da Club (Go Shorty, It’s your birthday; We gonna party like it’s your birthday; We gonna sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday) via Katy Perry’s Birthday and with a little Beatles, Selena Gomez, R Kelly and Destiny’s Child.
Ain’t no party like an R&B party.
So where has the time gone. The last time we looked, Ryan Mania was winning the 166th Grand National aboard Auroras Encore, Sweden were winning the 2013 World Men’s Curling Championship, a long-haired Justin Trudeau was securing his election to the leadership of Canada’s Liberal Party and Star Trek Into Darkness was premiering in Sydney.
Fast forward to the present day and we’re looking back on a hurricane five-years in which our multi-award-winning (cue: Own Trumpet Blowing), perfectly-formed guide to the weekend has welcomed such A-Listers as David Walliams, Sir Rod Stewart, Sting, Parkie, Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, John Legend and billionaire theatre impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh. Nice. Even Graham Norton would struggle to get a line-up as strong as that. We’ve peppered such interviews with geniuses with the mercurial brilliance of Shaun Ryder – a man who’s always welcome around these parts – and comedians who’ve left us creased up over our breakfast-at-the-desk CornFlakes.
We’ve been cooked for by Marco Pierre White, Tom Kerridge, Michel Roux Jr, Tom Aikens and the region’s very own Yummie Brummie Glynn Purnell. And we’ve learned what it’s like to keep lemurs, work as a lollipop man, score a goal, send a Valentine’s bouquet, make pots and pans for Nigella Lawson and change a car tyre when your front left blows.
We have eulogised the beauty of great books, completed an indispensible guide to the best films ever made, celebrated the joys of travel – from five star luxe to camping in a wood – and brought you some of the region’s most incisive and perspicacious investigative journalism when we’ve led the agenda, rather than followed it.
We’ve unearthed the best of the Black Country, Staffordshire, Shropshire and beyond and found such characters as Black Country Santa and Doreen Tipton. Boom. We’ve pointed you in the direction of the region’s best restaurants; remarked on the brains, brawn and brilliance of such heroes as Cyrille Regis asked Michael Portillo whether he wears a smoking jacket or has a favourite Stone Roses song (we actually did that, and he laughed almost as much as us, bless him) and we’ve focused on such Black Country trend setters as the one-time leather-pant-wearing-Pop-Will-Eat-Itself-frontman-but-now-acquaintance-of-Madonna-and-film-score-writer-to-the-stars Clint Mansell. Clint, we love ya.
But more importantly, we’ve welcomed you into our world – and, most importantly, you’ve welcomed us into yours. We’ve sat at your kitchen table and been a part of your life; sharing stories about parenthood, football, assorted mid-life crises, happiness, honour, grief and love.
You’ve written, Tweeted and emailed when we’ve got it right; expressed indignation and surprise when opinions haven’t matched. You’ve marvelled at our fashion choices, booked holidays based on our recommendations, tuned into TV shows that we’ve introduced you to and wondered, like us, why Simon Cowell’s trousers have a waist line that’s somewhere near his chest and why gluten free pitta bread tastes of cardboard.
But as much as we’ve loved having really, really, really expensive seven course dinners on your behalf or rooting out the region’s best fish and chips and as much as we’ve loved hanging out at the world’s best hotels so that we could rush back to our desks and articulate just what that’s like – damn, it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it – the best thing about the first five years of Weekend has been you. Your stories, your involvement, your engagement and your ears and eyes have been our inspiration.
So while David Walliams was a charmer, Sir Rod was rambunctious, Noel was a riot, Paloma was full-on weird and Sting was sweeter and more lovely than a waking-up-after-hibernating squirrel, none of them have mattered to us as much as you, dear reader. Your kindness and time, your energy and encouragement, your willingness to lend us your ears – to get a bit Shakespeare on you, and steal from The Bard’s Julius Caesar.
So happy birthday, one and all. And here’s to the next five.