When I was about 7 years old, all I wanted from life was to become a motorcycle policeman. CHIPS was on the telly, and I had a great helmet and goggles set that I used to wear when I was riding my bike around outside the house. I'm sure riding about the home counties would not have been quite as glamorous as California, and I suspect I would have had less need to the mirrored shades, but as ambitions go, it wasn't a bad one.
By the time I was a teenager, my ambtions had shifted, and I was now determined that I wanted to become a lawyer instead. A shift due, at least in part, to the fact that my father is a doctor, and he regularly attended road traffic accidents, and was all too aware of the casualty rate amongst bikers - he made it absolutely clear that I would only have a motorbike over his dead body. By this time though, I had also become a little bit more aware of my own intellectual capabilities, and I loved the idea of the cut and thrust of the courtroom, as demonstrated by such heroes as Rumpole and Perry Mason.
This ambition lasted until I came to choose the course I wanted to do at University. At a careers day, a solicitor told me that a law degree was tedious, and that I would be much better served doing a degree that I was interested in first, and then if I still wanted to be a lawyer, I could always do a conversion course. I did a history degree, and then a masters degree in Medieval Studies, and at some point along the way becoming a lawyer dropped off my agenda, and I sort of drifted into my current career as an IT Consultant (I applied for loads of jobs as I was finishing my masters, but for some reason the majority of the invitations for interview came for IT jobs).
I was thinking about this last week. Work was tough. I get paid pretty well, but I am not currently finding the work that I find myself doing particularly inspiring or challenging. I need to find something else to do. I believe that opportunity exists in my current company (over 300,000 employees worldwide), but I need to get off my arse and find something I do want to do.
I don't want to be melodramatic about it, but where did it all go wrong? How did I end up here?
I think I reached the peak of my potential in 1987 at the age of 13. I was head boy at school and had been awarded a scholarship to attend my next school. I was frighteningly mature - worryingly sensible, and probably even less fun at parties than I am now. It's pretty much been downhill ever since. Yes, I continued to achieve good academic results, but I just reckon that things started to tail off. I was coasting. I was bright enough to get a 2:1 in my first degree without really busting a gut, but it could and should have been better than that (although, I seriously doubt that getting a first class degree would have made anything different apart from serving to further swell my intellectual vanity). I drifted into my Masters degree because I wasn't sure what else to do, and had in mind some hare-brained scheme that I would go on to do a PhD because I was bright enough to do on, not because I had some important contribution to make to historical scholarship. And then I drifted into business, where I'm still drifting today.
I'm not going to get on my high horse here and start bleating about how I should be doing something more worthwhile. I donate money to charity, and I am planning on donating some of my time this year as well. I have no problem with working for big business, and do not think that I would be making the world a significantly better place by heading out to Africa as a VSO volunteer or something like that (although I will not dispute that the people who do this are clearly contributing something worthwhile. I just don't think it's for me.) For me the key is that I need to be intellectually challenged. I don't need to be Managing Director, and I'm not all that bothered about status either - although I do expect to be paid what I believe I am worth. I am not being challenged and I need this to change or I will go mad. It's one of the things I like about blogging actually - it gives me a creative outlet that I do not get in my normal working day. I always used to be good at writing, and although I get to use this ability to some extent at work, it's not quite the same as being able to really express myself in the way that I can here (albeit on subjects as high-brow as peeing in the sink).
I know I have lots of things I should be grateful for: I have a lovely girlfriend, a job that pays me pretty well (if not as well as I would like, but a lot better than most people), a nice house.... all that kind of stuff... but I have found myself wondering over the last couple of weeks how much simpler life was when I just wanted to be a motorcycle policeman.
Okay - couple more CD purchases to report this weekend:
Climate of the Hunter - Scott Walker (bizarrely featuring both Billy Ocean and Mark Knopfler)
Silent Alarm - Bloc Party (I elected to buy the version without the DVD. I never watch the bloody things, and all this extra packaging is starting to really annoy me)
I've spoken a fair bit about both in the last few weeks, so I'll try not to repeat myself by talking about them again here. I'm sure you've noticed though, I'm going through something of a Scott Walker phase at the moment. At work on Friday, whilst working on an incredibly tedious spreadsheet, I listened my way through Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3, Scott 4 and Tilt. Not exactly uplifting, but it worked, and I got the bloody thing finished. Tilt in particular is a really challenging piece of work - Walker doesn't even really sing in his trademark baritone, favouring some kind of semi-operatic syle. It's not something you could listen to everyday, but it still rewards the listener, some 10 years after it was released. It's also a natural progression from 1984s Climate of the Hunter.... he's apparently in the studio again now, so I await the output of that eagerly.
Sorry about that. I appear to have banged on about Scott Walker at length again....
Cruz Beckham. A traditional spanish girl's name. For a boy.
Way to go genius.
Alcohol-Free Beers (Part Twenty)
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