A little while ago, I was having a play around on google. Out of idle curiosity, I started tapping in the names of people I used to know. Amongst other things, I discovered that a former girlfriend of mine is now a lecturer in Defence Studies at a London University. She was studying the renaissance when I knew her, but she now appeared to be specialising in the First World War but, apart from that, I was quite impressed. We went out for about three months in our final year, although I had known her for the whole three years. She was a nice girl, albeit a tiny bit wet. I remember she used to love “Yes Minister” and had the complete scripts on the shelf above her bed.
I know this all sounds a bit “High Fidelity”, but that was as far as I took it. I had no interest in getting back in touch with this girl, and I don’t think we would have very much to talk about if I had. It was just interesting to see the path her life had taken since we parted at University. Actually, I was probably a touch envious, if the truth were told. I always thought that I would carry on to do a PhD and that perhaps I might drift on into academia somewhere. As things turned out, I had a fateful moment of clarity when sitting in the library studying the minutiae of Medieval government for my MA. I was poring over the nuts and bolts of how a law got passed – literally down to the level of who stamped or signed what – when I suddenly realised that I needed to get a job. I’d missed the traditional recruiting period, so once I had finished my masters, I had to bide my time working for HMV as I ground my way through the graduate recruitment treadmill. About a year after that moment of clarity, I was starting my mindless job in a soulless major corporation. There have been some changes since then, but that’s effectively where I still am today.
I wonder, if I had gone on to do that PhD, if I might be a professor of something somewhere. Who knows? The fact remains that I didn’t do that PhD, and here I am. I realised this week that the promotion that I have been promised that I am becoming increasingly resentful at not getting is a move to the same level that I might reasonably have expected to attain in about 1999/2000. That’s what they told me when I started on the graduate recruitment programme, anyway. A lot has happened since then, what with the various insources and outsources and so on… but I suppose you could say that I am currently about 7 years behind schedule.
Mind you, for all my professional frustrations, I don’t think I’ve ever really been happier personally. My job is an irritant, but it’s nothing more than a means to an end. It may not pay me what I think I’m worth, but it pays me relatively well and it’s close to home. I sleep in my own bed every night of the week. It’s also as a direct consequence of my job that I met my lovely fiancée in the first place.
I wasn’t quite done looking up old girlfriends just yet though. The next person I looked up was the girl that I went out with for three years, from the beginning of my Masters degree to a year or so after I had started work. We broke up in 1999, but as far as I knew, she still lived in Nottingham. Although I am absolutely convinced that I did the right thing in ending our relationship when I did, I don’t think she saw it coming and she was absolutely devastated. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I had caused real hurt to another human being, and I felt horrible about it. I sometimes wonder what I would do if I saw her in the street – I think I’d probably run away. I think she would probably react in the same way, which might explain why we never have bumped into each other.
Imagine how I felt when I saw this on Friends Reunited:
“Having reached the big 3-0 I am resisting the urge to settle down and have babies. I live in the Midlands … I work in HR ... And for those of you who remember me, I now have considerably less hair, having had it all chopped off in a temper after The Big Break-Up! “
That profile was written in 2004. The last time I saw her was probably in late 1999 and by then she’d already had her hair cut.
“The Big Break Up”?
I hope she’s joking and that she’s long since over me and is living the life of riley. In fact, it’s conceited of me to even think that she would really be that affected by our break-up… there is an exclamation mark, after all.
But that capitalisation kills me.