Celtic Illumination, part 277, Eureka!
So; there’s me, a blank piece of paper and a fountain pen sat sitting at our dining room table. You might think that what I was about to do was complete madness but it seemed to be quite sensible to me. How many people have actually sat themselves down and truly worked out what it is they want to achieve from life? I had met so many people who were working at jobs that they hated, or lived in areas that they hated. Most people were not completely happy with their lot and most of those could only see a positive and massive change in their lives if they won the national lottery, or were lucky enough to have some sort of providential windfall.
But where do you start? I thought that the easiest question I would pose to myself would be about where I wanted to live, that was easy. But it wasn’t easy. I discovered that I actually wanted this process to work, to mean something to me so I told the truth, yes, in a perfect world I would want to return to Ireland but I was worried about the situation over there. It wasn’t so much the effect it all might have on my children but how I would react to it. I wasn’t the sort of person who kept his mouth shut and there’s a reason most of the sane people in Northern Ireland are referred to as ‘the silent majority.’ Scotland was an option but unfortunately Scotland has as much religious bigotry as Northern Ireland does and my mouth worked in just the same manner no matter what country I was in.
Then there was the job problem. I could go back to school or university and train for a profession. I felt that seven years to become a doctor was far too long as were the standard courses for dentistry or even the veterinary sciences. I got on quite well with my new local dentist; we were the same age, he admitted that he had considered joining the air force as a dentist. He was a lovely fellow but I couldn’t imagine myself standing in the same room for twenty five years. I considered teaching and couldn’t see myself finding anything exciting in teaching, in a way it was similar to dentistry, standing in the same room year after year, would drive me mad. And I suppose that was the key underlying point in the whole exercise. I had to be truthful about myself; I knew I got bored very easily, which can be very dangerous for one’s career prospects.
There were still the police and prison service options and I had noticed that the police had an accelerated promotion scheme, which was quite similar to the civil service fast stream entry system, which did interest me a little. I still had the ‘can do’ attitude from the armed forces. To move to a new area for employment purposes was no great problem but it did concern me when I began to look in to it in depth. Sure I would move to a new area but I would not be able to live wherever I wanted. My choice of houses available would be governed by how much money I was earning and then even those would have to be within a certain radius of wherever I would be working. I could convince myself that I had choice, but in reality only a limited amount of choice.
Another problem I was having was that I knew I would have to respect my boss and most of the people I was meeting in Civvie Street didn’t exactly measure up. I could also see that ordinary trade’s people were earning good money, like plumbers or electricians. With a trade under my belt I could travel and work almost anywhere in the world. I was pleased to find that I was actually considering manual trades as it sort of indicated to me that I was thinking straight, I wasn’t being influenced by society and the ‘I am better than you are’ attitude. There was a period during the early days of the greed is good culture when certain fellows made the national newspapers because they were earning vast amounts of money from jobs that normally people would dismiss as simple manual work.
The first of these people was a fellow who became known as ‘Super-Hod.’ This chap supplied a team of plasterers on a building site with plaster. The key to his success was simplicity itself, most people used a standard hod that they would buy from their local building supplier, Super-Hod made his own. I’m not sure of exactly how many times bigger than a standard hod this creation was, but it was being reported that this fellow was earning twenty times the average hod carriers wage. I think at the time the average weekly wage was in the region of forty five pounds whereas Super-Hod was clearing at least one thousand pounds per week. He was very popular in the tabloid newspapers. In fact I do remember that one newspaper gathered together a group of ‘Super’ workers from bricklayers to carpenters and had them build a house. The house was completed in double quick time and wild claims were made about how this is how people should work.
At the time the country was going through a bit of a recession and the government especially were encouraging people to follow in the steps of Super-Hod and his colleagues. No one bothered to mention the fact that after a few years of this type of work you would be worn out, but why ruin a good story with details. The other important fact that was reported in the broadsheet newspapers and not in the tabloids, funnily enough, was the fact that the house that had been constructed by Super-Hod and his mates had fallen down and was a complete wreck.
So for me it was simple, yes, hard work would bring rewards, but what job should I turn my hand to? I knew it would have to be exciting, and outdoors, I could never see myself in one office for the remainder of my life. I needed travel and adventure. From the people that I had already met in my travels as a publishing executive or audiologist I knew that there were not very many people I respected, so perhaps the best person for me to work for would be myself. I could go straight into Liverpool airport and take a job as an air traffic controller. I would earn decent money but that would be it, that job that money, would determine everything about my life and, I would have to spend the remainder of my working life locked in a room with cretins.
My piece of paper is still blank so I begin to write. I decided that I should try to live in the Republic of Ireland. I would have to work for myself, but what at? I didn’t have enough money to buy a franchise, again plenty of opportunities with franchises but still with limited outcomes. I could see people with no education earning exactly the same as some highly qualified people. Then it hit me. The perfect job. I would work for myself, be my own boss. I could live anywhere I wanted to in the world, I could work as hard as I wanted to and as often as I wanted to, although I found it strange that I would be in one room for the remainder of my working life. I wouldn’t be out and about meeting people and having adventures. I would be sat sitting on my behind working away at a desk.
However, if I was successful, if I was good enough, I could achieve everything I had set out on my plan. I could even go back to my original plan of designing and building my own house. All I would have to do was go to Ireland and buy a field, well yes get some planning permission too. I don’t know why but my choice of career seemed to sit perfectly with me, I had decided to become a writer. I loved books; I loved reading and was a complete literary nerd with a slight mathematical bent. I cannot tell you how excited I was. I made my way to my local library and gathered a group of technical books about writing. The first fact I came across was that writers are expected to produce seven hundred and fifty words each and every day. No problem. I sat down with my fountain pen and writing pad. At the end of day one I had written one hundred and twenty words. It began to dawn on me this writing lark might be a little more difficult that I had imagined.