It was around this time fifty years ago that there was a fairly big change to my life.
I don’t remember the exact date but it was around the middle of June that I finally and irrevocably left school having finished my final exams. No more homework. No more fucking De La Salle brothers [and in some cases I mean that literally]. No more learning shit off by heart in the certain knowledge that I would never have to remember it in the future anyway.
The only thing that pissed me off a bit was that from the year after I left, they opened up a smoking room for the senior classes, but I wasn’t going to re-enrol just for that.
We didn’t have such niceties as career guidance in those days. The school’s job was to get us through the exams and after that we were sent naked into the world to do more or less as we pleased.
I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do with myself. I fancied being a pilot, but my eyesight ruled that out. The only other career I considered was anything to do with maps, but seeing as the Ordnance Survey was run entirely by the army, that would have necessitated joining up. I didn’t fancy doing that either.
So there I was, sailing on an ocean of freedom with no rudder and not a care in the world. It was only many many years later it occurred to me that I really wanted to be a computer programmer, but seeing as computers had only recently been invented, and I had never heard of them, it’s no wonder I missed out on that opportunity.
I ended up studying electronics. I have no idea to this day how that happened. Why a bloke whose ultimate joy would be flying a camera plane for the Ordnance Survey ended up studying something with little or no interest still baffles me. The main thing though was that it didn’t involve tedious essays on “The Child is Father to the Man – Discuss”, or learning by rote great swathes of Hamlet, so I was happy to go along with it.
At college, I came across a couple of other interests to study – women, drink and music. The music bit fitted in nicely as it meant I was in great demand as a guitarist so I got invited to loads of parties where there was a plentiful supply of the other two, and even an introduction to the more exotic side of smoking.
Those were the days!
The rest of my working life just happened. It’s hard to explain, but a door would open and I would blindly walk in out of sheer curiosity and I would find myself in a new job. I wandered from sound recording engineer through quality control in a television factory, to cable television and finally computers. The only thing that those jobs really have in common was that each time I left a job, the place shut down. I never discovered if there was a connection. Of all the places I ever worked, only one still exists and that my last place. All the others disappeared within a year or two of my leaving. I hope my last place of employment doesn’t shut down though as I rely on them for my pension.
I’m still drifting. I still let life take me wherever it wants. Doors have opened and I have nearly always walked through. It seems to have worked well to date.
But I’m sill not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up.