This Life + 10: the accountants view
So who watched the return to This Life, last night? Well I did and I suspect shed-loads of my 30 and 40-something peers who were smitten the first time round. Remember the 1990s, being holed up for weeks on end in some god-forsaken hotel learning the new audit methodology? This Life was our only respite. The appeal? Well parallels between the life of the trainee barristers in This Life and trainee accountants in practise I guess. For me in particular, during my 20s, I had a training contract in London, lived in a shared house with accountant peers, and worked in pretty much the same location as This Life's lawyers - just around the corner from Chancery Lane and the Law Courts. And well no, despite the similar location, my big 4 experience in London was infinitely less glamorous, cool or chaotic than the This Life version (but then that was just me)........
For me the big surprise of This Life + 10 was that Anna remained the only practising lawyer. One out of 5 was a bit far fetched, I thought, after all that training, time, money. OK, Milly is on a parenting career- break so she hasn't axed the law, but even at 2 out of 5, that's a poor retention rate for the legal profession. Got me thinking about my own contemporaries and I suspect the stickability of qualified accountants to their profession is much higher. Even me with my executive coaching practise - I'm still in the world of accountancy, still doing my own accounts and still doing my CPD (as I keep telling you!). Are there any ex-accountants out there who can compete with This Life's dramatic career changes: Egg a published celebrity novelist, Warren a full blown life coach, Miles a precarious entrepreneurial millionaire.
So what was it like then, This Life +10? Well, not bad. Characters were still pretty engaging . I want Milly's hair (think 1970s 12 year old, long graduated bob just the right amount of messiness) and I loved her 'baby evils' to Egg, those withering, disapproving looks - they're still there. Miles was as unbelievability arrogant as ever - no not unbelievable at all - I have know several Miles's. Warren did the life coach profession no favours, with his 'freeing up energy' and applying his 'cognitive techniques' to himself via his video diary. Anna - well in real life she wouldn't have turned up at all and I found her quest for a co-parent frankly improbable and she just wasn't edgy enough. Then there was Egg, plenty to moan about, the pressures of celebrity 'all this success, so great, so lucky, why do I feel so shit?' No change there then.
There was a nice contrast of a contemporary noughties physical backdrop - ipod, video diaries, personal trainer, Warren showing off his website to the others, not to mention the whole reality tv setting itself - the ubiquitous tv camera. (Weird to think that none of these were around in 1996, we were still with the mobile brick phones). All set against a musical backdrop of 1990s dirge: Portishead, Manic Street Preachers.................
And there was a good mix of perennial and contemporary problems which will sound a chord with all of us. Egg's book is based on living with his 4 friends ' before you become an adult proper and don't have time for friends'. All of them feeling 'old'; Egg on the film maker ' they get older younger than we did'. Plus the pressures of being a ' metro sexual', having all those different life choices available, identity issues, tensions of parenthood, biological clock, and of course money (Miles has the bailiffs in).
But in the end, for me the finish was just too neat. Milly and Egg resolving their marital differences and sallying forth for the next 10 years, Anna resolving her co-parenting problem which gives Warren a will to go on, and Miles buggering off to Africa. No. What would really have happened - a huge bust up with one or more walking out over the weekend (permanently) and probably at least one in hospital - and the distinct lack of life partners to add to the fray as particularly unlikely. But all in all, I did enjoy it. And the upshot for me is to cement my decision to write the first soap opera based around accountants via my blog, call it a soap blog if you like. So watch this space!