Vincent on… Life's Little Crossroads

29 Jan

M’learned friend Alfie and I attended the same school, in Sixties Britain – Copleston High (no reference to recreational drugs – we were GOOD boys who didn’t even smoke STRAIGHT cigarettes, let alone jazz ones).

We were both in the “A-stream” (which no longer exists. P.C. dictates that ALL children should be treated equally – i.e., the dunces sit next to the nerds, so they can hold them BACK).

And in later years, both of us would join Mensa – and then end up here on Sumpnado.

But in between, our lives could NOT have been more different…

To the best of my knowledge, Alfie went straight from school into a career as a computer programmer with a bank whose name rhymes with “Barclays”.

He married unwisely – but corrected the error later (i.e., after an acrimonious split from a right b**** – he found the Right Lady).

He then had kids and settled down to life in the ’burbs. House, car, kids, job, mortgage, credit cards – you probably know how that goes.

Nowadays, his leisure time is taken up with fishing (a sport best summed up by Spike Milligan) and in order to stay EMPLOYED for the last eight years of his “working life” – he tries desperately to keep up with the latest developments in computer tech.

I hear he’s just been laid off again.

Of course, I’m sure there is more to his life than the above – so I look forward to his reply to this piece – which will doubtless appear in the comments below.

And so to ME. Like Alfie, I attended an interview with Barclays’ computer division (a budding concern, in 1969) with the goal of becoming a computer ENGINEER (they grub around UNDER the desks the programmers work on – but generally earn more money).

Having written over FIFTY letters of application (I never WARMED to “joined-up” writing and exclusively write in caps today – faster than most people can write in joined-up – and far more clearly) to create just ONE that had the two paras required, with NO mistakes – I ended up sitting opposite a Barclays suit, in London.

Everything was going jake until he asked me where I LIVED. I replied, “Ipswich.”

Suddenly, I felt things beginning to slip away. I quickly added, “But of course, if I am successful in this application, I will immediately move down here, to London.”

You would have THOUGHT this would have rescued things, but NO. Ipswich was (and still is) only seventy miles from The Smoke – but of course, making that move straight out of school IS something of a task.

And so, I FAILED to join the happy ranks of Barclays’ computer team.

Thus, after a dead-end job in Ipswich, working in a pet and garden shop (I still hate cockateils to this DAY) I decided to try my luck in London anyway.

It took a while to establish myself, but I DID it. I HAD had the opportunity of going back into the world of academia (College, Uni) but declined, not wanting to become “institutionalised” again.

Indeed, I wasn’t REALLY disappointed at losing the Barclays job – as it TOO would have had the same result (Barclays had a computer “school”, where I would have spent another YEAR, at least).

But no. Screw all that – I was now a FREE MAN, in SIXTIES LONDON. However, lacking any specific skill and having only four “O” levels to my name, I ended up going through twenty jobs in my first two years (Britain had Full Employment in those days. There was a catch-phrase – “Okay, we’ll give you a month’s trial” – which meant, “You start tomorrow – but if you f*ck up, you’re OUT of here.”)

Eventually, I got my license and became a delivery driver – then a taxi-driver (proper car, not a black cab).

It was then that I met wife number one. And we married for COMPANIONSHIP. The union lasted fourteen years, during which I moved out into the ’burbs, had a child (well, SHE did) got the car, job, credit cards (sounding familiar?)

For the job, I had to go back to SCHOOL (Southend Tech) at thirty. Having fixed – as a gifted amateur – hundreds of electronic appliances, I studied all aspects of sparks and – long story short – became a service engineer.

Then things began to happen.

Half-way through my career as a service engineer, I hit my Mid-life Crisis. And while most guys get over it, I realised (thanks to a POTENTIAL tryst with a young girl which I declined – and when I later told my wife about it, she said I should have GONE for it) that at 37, I was still a young man and needed to get out there and look for LOVE.

And thus it was that we got an amicable divorce and then I DID go for it.

There followed a period where I went through another eighty-six women, from all over the planet (taking my total to a hundred and five) traveled throughout Europe and the Far East, walked AWAY from my job before I had The Breakdown (another LONG story) and became an amateur writer.

Eventually, I RETIRED AT FIFTY and after much searching, ALSO found the Right Lady (a Thai girl, fifteen years my junior) and moved to the Orient. I’ve been here for a decade now and have a great life.

But here (and not a moment too soon) we come to the THRUST of this piece.

I have nailed over a hundred women – and married three of them. Swum naked across Scottish lochs, at dawn. Driven around Europe, living in my car. Encountered the Mob. Written and published a book. Danced at many Full Moon Parties. Survived a train crash. Spent a night with a Lady-boy. Known celebrities. Been an activist. Performed the “butterfly” on ladies. Driven a jeep over “Samui Everest”. Edited a Mensa publication. Escaped chasing police cars – twice. Been a DJ on a boat. Got stoned – many times. Acquired over five million hits on YouTube. Beaten The System. Hand-brake-turned a truck on Croydon High Street. Danced on the dancers’ ledge high up in a disco, on opening night. And this was THURSDAY.

I have LIVED, my friend. (To see more, click – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxPKKcpyg6c

BUT – supposing I had GOT that damned job with Barclays and Alfie HADN’T? Would I now be typing this in Norfolk – and he be writing his comment on it, in a ranch-house in Thailand?

Makes you think…

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3 Responses to “Vincent on… Life's Little Crossroads”

  1. Alfie January 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    Far be it from me to fail to rise to Vincent’s expectation that I would comment here (I think)!

    Actually it’s FAR worse than he says!

    If only I HAD joined a computer department at Banklays on leaving school – life might have been a lot more interesting and remunerative!

    Instead I left school in 1969 and joined the Income Tax Office (“Boo, hiss” I hear you cry). Then in 1974 I defected to Barclays telling people the same thing from the other side of the fence – this time they believed me and I got to charge ’em for the advice!

    It was only 25 years later when the Bank sold off its Tax Department that I got made redundant, stopped filling in other people’s Tax Returns for them and blagged my way into I.T. work which has kept the bills paid for 12 years now.

    And one day, when the bloody banks put the interest rates UP so that my “pension pot” can yield a liveable income I’m going to retire too. Then I may very well do a spot of travelling – possibly visiting Vincent in Thailand to buy him a beer! Who knows?

    Alfie

  2. Vincent January 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Alfie: OH!!! I didn’t realise you went over to the DARKSIDE for 5 years before your spell with Barclays (I should pay more attention to your stories). Well, I look forward to that beer!

    Cy: Nowt. Hmm. This is like that story I told of how I tried to explain to Thip why dough, through and bough were SPELLED the same but pronounced differently. Then I began on Cholmondsley, Featherstonehaugh, St John, Beauchamp, etc…..

  3. Vincent January 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Oh – and it was “The North London Line” (now CONNECTED to docklands, I believe).

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