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I soon will be 50 years old, an edit.

Updated: Feb 20

A reflection on the first 49 and a bit years of being me.


I have edited the below slightly from the original post.


This could be interesting, I have no idea where this post is going to go, but I have just poured a glass of red and I have a decanter full of wine next to me... Lets dive in.


It will likely be incoherent and jump around in regards themes and time, but you'll understand why by the end, or you wont, I can't decide for you, I am just putting words together.

Come on reader, you must be getting to grips with your author and his randomness by now... No links to previous posts, if you are here, you can find them easily enough and, as always, start at the bottom and work your way up, just like life huh?


Born in 1972 I was an only child for the majority of my childhood, there is a post where I explain my family dynamic, so I won't bang on about that again dear reader, nobody likes a bore who repeats themselves do they?

Do they? I was a strange child, looking back, well I think I was. I guess we need to remember that every person who knows us has a different version of who they think we are in their minds, and that will differ to our own.

I was painfully shy, yet equally aware of my surroundings and also quite preceptive.

A bit of a loner, happy in my own company and the little worlds that I created.

I had no interest in the usual pursuits of other boys.

I hated football, still do, I had no interest in smoking behind the bike sheds and still despise smoking to this day.

I was strangely drawn to hobbies that were not considered 'the norm', I never felt like I had to follow the crowd or like a sport or a particular team, especially if there was a childhood or regional or popular 'expectation' I also had an issue with authority and rules, seeing them as more of a guide, despite my father being quite the disciplinarian, a throw back to his military days maybe, and fascinating that I too then joined the Army, a bastion of rules, guidelines and specific operating procedures, but also a risky career...


I was quite a small child, slight and awkward. I was shy and lacked in self confidence and was generally immature for my age, something I think, wait, I know I still am.

I had an arrogant streak, mainly as a front to hide my lack of confidence, I put that front up, it was easier, but also brought its own issues.

Some will say, I still have that streak, whereas in fact my self confidence is simply much better.

I preferred basketball and rugby to football, being much better with my hands than my feet, but I was too short for basketball and lacked in confidence to push myself into rugby.

I was academically able, but not really interested in school and did just enough to get by, my school reports were always full of phrases like, must try harder, he has the ability, but not the inclination, we know he can do it, he knows he can do it, we just need him to show us. Parent/Teacher evenings were some of my worst days, I was full of dread waiting for mum and dad to come home.

But hey weren't we all?


One of the greatest weeks of any year, as a child, was the Fair week.

That week when we watched the lorries and trailers of the Fun Fair arrive in the village for a few days, trying to work out what rides were coming that year, were we getting The Mexican Hat (also known as witches hat, cage, etc).

I would always go upside down on the Mexican Hat, no safety harness back then, physics was our saviour and a lack of consequence our guide.


Summer. Winning.


The Fair was my idea of heaven and still is to some degree, I love the smells, burgers, candyfloss, doughnuts and toffee apples (not that I ever ate one or ever will, the teeth are not willing), the sounds of loud distorted music and machinery combined was a heady perfume and intoxicating. I guess, although I didn't realise it at the time, there was a certain romance to it all.


I especially loved the rides, all of them, but the Waltzer was a favourite. What a ride.

When the fair comes to town in Shrewsbury I kid myself that I would still enjoy The Waltzer as I did when 10 years old, truth is, these days I would probably not be able to walk straight for a few hours afterwards and need a lie down... It amazes me that we put our faith in machinery put together by people who don't appear to have studied mechanical engineering at any stage of their lives, maybe that is part of the attraction and thrill.

I ended up working at that local Fair for a couple of years on their annual visit, once on the bouncy castle and than in an arcade.

I had the idea, around 12 or 13 years old, that I was going to travel with them when I turned 16, my parents soon stopped that thought dead in its tracks and I still thank them for that.

Can you imagine, dear reader? I would have so many more tattoos, probably a few less fingers and teeth as well as a different accent. Jumping back. Told you it would be random!


I was into BMX and Breakdancing, skateboards, photography, films and music as a child.

I was also a massive Michael Jackson fan.

'The Jacket' was and is a thing I am known for. A terrible denim jacket that I had painted the Bad Tour logo onto, something that would become local folklore, OK, maybe that is a bit strong The Jacket doesn't have its own memorial or even Facebook page, but it still gets mentioned to this day.


I also loved films and would get my hands on any video tape I could, especially if it was a horror film, a video nasty if you like, and watch it over and over again, a passion I carry to this day.

On the weekly visit to Carrefour, with my parents to do the big shop, I would hang out in the video rental booth looking at all the tape boxes and reading the cover backs, it helped that there was a cute, much older girl behind the counter who tolerated me. I think her name was Diane.

I was in a happy place, films and girls... I was and still am a confident and strong swimmer, my dad was a lifeguard at the local pool and I went whenever he was on duty and learnt to swim at a young age.

I completed all four swimming badges at my junior school in the first term of my first year. This is when the idea was to do one test per year following ongoing lessons.

I excelled at sponsored swims and generally made the most money.

I swan for my regiment in the Army, which in fairness was an excuse to be a tracksuit solider for around four months of the year.

I still adore the water and take any opportunity to get into it, rivers, lakes, the sea, wherever. Maybe that's why I loved the Man from Atlantis so much, Patrick Duffy, pre Bobby Ewing days!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd9YlpKBbk8

and was envious of Tom Hanks in Splash.

Ok, ok, that was all about him getting to kiss Darryl Hannah over getting to live under the sea at the end of the film, whoops spoiler alert, sorry.


Another jump now dear reader, I would say sorry, but I did warn you...


I didn't really attend parties, save the odd birthday of a friend up to the age of around 10 or 11 and my own of course, which were usually a disco at the church hall and if I do say so myself, legendary.


I never hung out with the cool kids, but I kept them on side, survival tactics. I remember one party in particular at the home of Vicky and Mark Churcher.

I don't remember whose birthday it was but Vicky was a year older than me and Mark a year or two younger, I have no idea how or why I ended up being invited.

I think I would have been around 7 or 8 years old.

For a reason that I cannot recall I became the one to pick on at the party, it seemed to escalate really quickly and I found myself surrounded by the rest of the party goers in the garden, out of sight of the adults, I burst into tears and bolted, deciding to head off home, on my own. Now, for those that know the village I grew up in, Bishops Waltham, I lived on Ridgemede at the time and the party was up Victoria Hill, near the Police college on Martin Street.

To get home, I had to navigate very busy roads, the main roundabout, the high street and then Bank Street and The White Swan (Mucky Duck), Lees Garage, police station and through the lower part of Ridgemede estate.

I had no worries about the potential consequences, my mind was set and off I went.


For the many that don't know the village, this was a distance of about a mile, running with tears streaming down my face and, lets be honest, probably wearing flared trousers and a tank top... Maybe that's why they picked on me...

I made it as far as the roundabout when Mrs Churcher turned up in her car and took me home.


I never had a best friend growing up, well not one that lasted to the degree or timescales that I see others have.

Simon Hughes at primary school, nobody specific at junior school, but I was friendly with a core of people, and then Dean Fowler in the latter stages of secondary school and all the way up to our mid-40's where we lost touch, well grew apart is a more accurate a description of our friendship.

I still love him and always will, we just don't need to be in each others lives at this moment in time.

Another jump, this is like Back to the Future. If only it came with a Sports Almanac... I used to hang around with children older than me, mainly as my next door neighbours had four children all older than me, the youngest by four years and I gravitated toward them.


They had the same interests as me, as previously mentioned, these being BMX bikes, skateboards, music, computer games, films and breakdancing, all of which we were rubbish at, but very enthusiastic none the less.

We had Ghetto Blasters, Hitachi 3D Super Woofers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7LWGPzgTHs and we would play the soundtrack to Breakdance the Movie and the latest Electro tapes on never ending loops (I still own two of these Ghetto Blasters, eBay purchases, random as fuck I know) and we had a sheet of old lino to practice our moves on. We bought crap and knackered out motorbikes and ragged them around local fields, we flew kites and climbed trees to get conkers.


It was a sublime childhood really.

As a result of being around older kids, I was introduced to things that I maybe shouldn't have been during my tender years, horror films, soft core pornography, think Electric Blue film series, girls and 'experimenting' with our bodies, all pretty much innocent and away from smoking, drinking and drugs, so not all bad.


I was very sexually aware from a young age, clearly not fully abreast of what it all meant, but I was fascinated by girls and my own 'little feller'. I had girlfriends as early as infants school, Katie Green being my first, we were probably five or six years old.


Ahhh, I should have mentioned this sooner, the words flow and I miss stuff as, if you are on this journey with me, you will be very aware of my dear reader.


I was born in September near the beginning of the month, and due to the way the school years fell I was the eldest in my year and then in turn the school when we reached the dizzy heights of the last year of infants, junior and senior school, which back then was 'cool'.


However now at nearly 50, not so much. I am winning the race to being the oldest bugger.


As a result of being the eldest in the year, it did tend to bring you to the forefront of attention, sometimes and mainly with the girls.

I have no idea why but thems was the rulez.

Kiss Chase was the game and I was being chased.


Back to girlfriends, as I said Katie Green was the first and whilst it felt like it lasted months, it was probably weeks or even days in real terms, and then followed a string of others.

I loved the attention and even had two girlfriends at the same time once, known by both of the girls and earning me the nickname 'two-timer' appropriately enough. I lost my virginity in 1986 just before my 14th birthday in what was a torrid year for me, and which I have written about in detail previously, again, no one likes a repeating bore eh reader, and I haven't looked back since. Ladies became a drug and I took everyone that I could, although I never really understood the appeal or interest in me.

I was still painfully shy and lacking in confidence.


There was one occasion, I was home on leave, I was probably 18 or 19, when an absolutely stunning lady asked if I wanted to go for a drink when she finished work and my lack of confidence forced me to say no. I just blurted it out and walked out of the shop as fast as I could.

I still kick myself for that, Lou, you are still so gorgeous.


In fairness I never realised that I was attractive until I left the military in my late 20's and started to put two and two together.

How suitably arrogant is that statement huh, stay with me reader, please, hate the game, not the player, another really arrogant phrase, oosh, I am on a roll.


This has benefits, of course and also brings its own issues and downsides, something I have explored in my own mind and thoughts and something I may expand on here one day, but not in this post.


Ladies were my greatest weakness and on many occasion the reason for my own personal downfalls, all by my own hand, granted.


Moving on, as that is not a rabbit hole I want to go down, just yet. I have had many jobs and tried different careers.

I have been:

A soldier, a carpenter, a steel erector, a barman, a window cleaner, a wedding photographer, an account manager for a cut flower company, a manager for a double glazing company and more recently and to this day a building surveyor/loss adjuster in the Insurance market, specifically claims.


The last role has been my career for the best part of 20 years, yet I have worked for around ten different companies in this sector, sometimes not even lasting the six month probation period that this role attracts.

Although I did rise to director level for one major company and I am much more settled now. I admire people who have been in one job for their whole career and working life and equally wonder how the hell they deal with, without wanting to sound cruel, the monotony. I am quite well known in my industry and as mentioned have risen to senior levels and am trusted with being a mentor and a client point of contact. I know my job and am confident in my knowledge of building pathology and claims philosophy. Yet. I still get waves of imposter syndrome.

How did I get to where I am?

I still do not know. Arrogance?


I did my school placed work experience at TVS, now known as Meridian TV in the camera section.

I had wanted to do this job since I was young and it was a fantastic opportunity.

I worked on the floor in the studios on live TV, I was the camera operator on Carl the Weatherman's first ever appearance on Coast to Coast, now Meridian Tonight, as well as filming for TV series and pilots and even screen tests for an up and coming kids TV show.


It was an amazing two weeks and at the end there was talk of an apprenticeship, which would have involved another six years of college and university education... mmmmmmm no thanks, I walked away and joined the Army weeks later.


I throw myself into stuff, but get bored quickly and I have tried numerous sports and activities, none, aside from mountain biking have ever stuck. I have bungee jumped, parachuted, scuba dived, taken salsa dance lessons, climbed many mountains and even started but not finished a mountain leaders course, taken guitar and drum lessons, entered competitive swimming competitions, started but never completed Judo, Ju-Jitsu and Tai Chi classes.

I started to kite surf, bought all the gear. but got bored because I couldn't stand up on the board straight away, so I bought a land board (off road skate board) and never rode it.

I have owned kayaks, I still own a SUP, and I actually will stick at this... maybe.

I have white water rafted and owned roller blades as a 30 something adult. I recently bought a long board, essentially an elongated skateboard, not ridden it yet, I am actually a little scared of it. But it looks bloody good in my lounge.


I have travelled extensively, I have seen the Pyramids and met Mickey Mouse in Europe and America.

I missed Storm Katrina by a matter of hours in New Orleans and, in contrast have galloped a horse on the white sands of the Pacific costal beaches of Mexico.

I love theme parks and roller coasters, anything with a sense of risk attached, bring it on and I will gulp it down.


Granted that has waned slightly as I have aged, but that's aging for you, the injuries take longer to heal.

I still throw myself down the side of mountains on push bikes and I can do 50 press ups in one go, so not I'm not quite ready for the grave just yet. Where does this lack of attention span and attraction for risk taking come from?

For years I never gave it a second thought, it was just me and my interests, why question it?

Then, during one of my many jobs, where I was senior management, an Associate Director actually, your author is not just a pretty face dear reader ha ha, we were subjected to the Myers Briggs Personality test and it turns out I am an ESTP.

OK, maybe this will explain some things, like why my Project Manager at the time got annoyed with me for leaving tasks to the last minute, sorry Andy YFFFFCCCC (private joke) whist I was sat there knowing that I would give and deliver my best work under the pressure of the deadline and I didn't need to start it yet. This is an ESTP:

https://www.personalitypage.com/html/ESTP.html.

I don't know why it wont hyper-link, sorry, you'll have to Google or copy and paste. There should be a picture of me at the top of the page... ESTP is me.

Ha, this is just like the bit in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang where Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) explains to Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) about the definition of the word idiot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liIcpPeZ12A


Great film by the way.


Music is a huge part of my life, I never leave the house without headphones and I own numerous pairs, in ear, over ear, corded and Bluetooth enabled.

I have the radio on all day when working, flicking between Radio X, LBC and BBC 6Music.

Via the latter I have discovered so many new artists that I would not had I stuck with Radio 2.

For instance, Sleaford Mods, Wet Leg, Amyl and The Sniffers, Self Esteem as well as revisiting some known artists. Wow, I have rambled on haven't I?

I have dived in on some topics and maybe not deep enough on most of them, there is time, I will get there.

Don't rush me, I am a slow typist and also my biggest critic and editor, honesty these posts take you 3-12 minutes to read and me 2-4 hours to write, read, edit, re-read and edit again. It seems I have a distinct respect for authority, yet equally do not always think it applies to me in its full form.

I also have little concerns for consequence and my actions, can, on occasion reflect that and get me into situations that others would find fearful and embarrassing, whereas I see them as more of a minor irritation.


I jump head first in and then rely on my wit, intelligence (cough cough) and experiences to worm my way put of it, granted this is not the best way to live and it isn't a daily occurrence, but lets say I have been the wrong side of the law on more than one occasion. Age is maturing me, slowly (I am like cheese!) and I am more aware of the long game these days, although, I will still act without thought or care.


I get bored easily and unless I can solve something right there and then or in a timely manner, I will lose interest rapidly and move on to the next "".

I will let you fill the "" with whatever you like is appropriate my ever faithful reader.


Summary.

I am 50 this year and I think I have dissected 'Paul' to some degree.

It jumps around and of course I have left loads out, but less is more, or so they say.


Oh, and I am 50 this year, did I mention that..?

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