My life is bearing all the hallmarks of a mid life crisis. First there was the decision to take voluntary redundancy, as discussed previously this was either brave or stupid depending on your point of view and my ever changing state of mind. Next was a ponderous drive past my childhood home and teenage haunts.
We lived in the aforementioned family home from when I was five, my parents moved out around 3 years ago just as I hit 40. A beautiful, big house we were lucky to have, in a nice area. By the time my two elder sisters moved out I was lucky enough to have the whole of the third floor of this house. I had left school at 16 and moved out, but returned to live when I returned to A levels.
Anyhow, I drove past the house the other day and had a flood of memories from the last time I saw my maternal grandfather being stretchered out following a heart attack to my first romantic fumbles and the last time my Mother left the house when it was sold and I escorted her out of the door for the last time as she wiped away a tear and all of the memories stored in a house where a family grew for 30 odd years.
From there I traced my walk to secondary school, past the houses of numerous old girlfriends ( Rachel, Emily,Manon, Cecilia) and friends who were girls who I wanted desperately to be more (Abigail,Ellen, Jenny, Cait) and friends who were like brothers (Tim, Andy,Russell, Richie, Lee). In fact these guys were brothers, blood brothers thanks to drunken inspiration with a pen knife outside the Coach and Horse one long summer night! Once up by the school I stopped to view the hub of my teenage life.
Now standing as an estate agent there was once a place so full of wonder and togetherness it is hard to fathom it has gone.
St Michaels Guest house had a prefound impact on all areas of life, It needs a separate blog which will follow. Any how, whilst on this indulgent journey I had a call from Andy. I have known Andy for 25 years and we speak infrequently on account of the fact that we are both lazy and poor at maintaining contact, however when we do, it is like a time vortex takes us back to a point where we worked, drank and shared everything – including a few girlfriends over a few years.
Andy called to say one of the old gang was in town from Singapore for a night, let’s meet for a beer.this was a no brainier.
The last time I saw Jasper he had long hair and smelt of josticks, not to mention the fact he was an excellent drummer in the mould of a cross between John Bonham and Animal from the Muppets. Jasper is now a very respectable teacher, though I’m please to say he still has a mischievous glint in his eye.Over the course of the evening we worked out that my eldest son is now five years younger than I was the last time I saw Jasper. Time has a twisted sense of humour.
Also present for this one off, Martin ( a real gent now with his own successful business, new wife and Merc) and lovely Martha who I have not seen for as long as Jasper. It is funny how so much time can pass without speaking to each other but it all seems so natural. We were sat in the Kings Arms, scene of many a legendary tale from our teenage years and bar the presence of more than a few grey hairs and a competitive view of crows feet – it really could have been any time between 1988-95.
How glorious and how bitter sweet, Bob Dylan’s dream sums it up nicely:
With haunted hearts through the heat and cold
We never thought we could ever get old
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one
As easy it was to tell black from white
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right
And our choices were few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split
Garden leave over on Monday, company car returned today – Time to get real, real and resilient.
“I’ll be on that hill cause I can’t stop, I’ll be on that hill with everything I’ve got…I’ll be there on time, I’ll pay the cost…”
A brave stand I made, may appear foolish now. As Lennon noted in “I’m a loser” , it appears true that pride does come before a fall. I am anxious about still not having a job, not being able to provide and mostly missing the meaning that work gives to the day to day. I always thought that was a cliche, but now I feel it and know it to be true. Was it the right thing to do? I still think so and regret is a waste of energy.
On the other hand, Thus far in my life I have been truly blessed and have always worked hard but never really struggled. I guess sooner or later, we all have to face the Darkness on the edge of town.
Another interview down, 4 hrs each way for a two hour interview and presentation, tough but felt good. On the plus side I managed half an hour on the Cornish Coast on the way, just Glorious. The only problem with the beautiful day was that there was no time for a swim.
Waiting for interview results is as torturous as preparing for them, fingers crossed!
What a great and original film. Set in beautiful Sligo, an intelligent and very different story. If you get a chance, please watch.
I have always loved the Gower. From the age of 16, I spent at least two weeks camping here with a group of like minded teens until our twenties. The scene of many legendary days and nights and the forging of some life long bonds, along with some bitter sweet memories.
I am lucky that we have had a family flat in Swansea for the last 13 years which has enabled me to rediscover this glorious peninsula and share it with my wife and sons who all now love it too!
The first summer I spent here there was a heatwave, man it was hot. Highlights of that first trip – the purchase of The box set of Springsteen and the EStreet Band’s live ’75 -’85 opus and hearing the Piano vocal Thunder Road for a first time, sharing that with one of the gang who became my closest friend and best man. The inability to use sun cream causing horrific sun burn and peeling by the end of the trip. Crazy golf in the park in the pouring rain on the only day the sun did not shine, one of our party in the wildest coulered leggings I have ever seen. Midnight walks and swims at Three Cliffs bay, and before the burning – the perfect peace to be found with sunshine on my shoulders.
Having negotiated an exit and confident in the knowledge I would be able to get a new role quite quickly I Sat back, worked on what I Had to and waited until release date.
I was sad to leave behind such great people, both in my Team and in the wider business but it definitely felt the right thing to do. Something I hadn’t given any thought to was the sudden loss of Human contact. All of my working life I had been surrounded by people, either Customers, Colleagues, my own team . As an Area Manager there is a lot of time spent travelling, often alone but there is always the phone, the lifeline that allows you to keep in touch with your team ( some of whom may be 300 miles away) and own teammates who also find themselves on the road at silly O Clock book ending the day.
The most noticeable surprise to me in my first couple of weeks of garden leave was the sudden loss of contact. A few texts, a couple of calls but nothing compared with the deluge that was normality. Soon it would be on to the job search, but this was my first surprise in my new life.
“That feeling of safety you prize, well it comes at a hard hard price.”