I’ve been looking at my youngest boy lately and trying to discern what he might do with himself later in life. Career-wise, I mean (I have no doubt that, socially, he will be a party animal).
He is naturally green-fingered, shows an interest in cooking and likes fire engines.
I expect at 4 years old he is still too young to have had the thought “when I’m all growed up I want to be a...” occur to him.
I think I was 7 or 8 before I had a firm idea of what it is I wanted to be.
I wanted to be a crime-fighter. But no ordinary crime-fighter. I was going to be a crime-fighter with a kick-ass gang of celeb crime-fighters. This kick-ass gang comprised of the good guys from Star Wars, Charlie’s Angels and, for some ridiculous reason, Abba. Yeah. Like they’d ever get their gold lame dirty bringing some filthy crim to heel.
And we’d patrol the mean streets of Leamington armed with Star Wars blasters and light sabres in vehicles which I wanted to patent as “supercars”.
I put considerable thought into these wonder-vehicles. I mean, I had to fit the entire gang in there ‘cos, like, we were going to go everywhere together and do everything with each other. We’re talking a bond of brothers here. And sisters.
My ingenious plan was to have cars pulling caravans, but fused together with great sheets of bulletproof metal so that both vehicles were one, sealed whole. My thought processes even considered machine guns installed behind the headlamps and a rotating gun turret cut into the roof of the caravan. I drew plans and everything.
The design was a goer, I’m telling you. The crims of Leamington Spa would never know what hit them and the police would look upon us with pure envy in their eyes.
That I never considered how these metallic behemoths would be able to turn around corners or fit under low bridges or not blow over on the motorway in a decent gust of wind is testament to my youth and (at the time) unquenchable optimism.
I can remember feeling absolutely sure that I was going to do this. I just had to get the money; buy the metal and get welding. I mean, how difficult could it be? I’d even drawn the plans in biro and coloured them in with felt-tip. This was a commitment.
And then I remember quite clearly that moment in my early teens, not long after I’d started secondary school and the real world had begun to impinge on my mental flights of fancy – that soul-excoriating moment when you realize for yourself without someone forcing it on you – that you are talking absolute bollocks, the idea is completely stupid and childish and it’s never, ever, EVER going to happen.
Not in a million frigging years.
Welcome to the joyless world of adulthood.
I look at my little boy and I feel envy and sadness all mixed together. I smile at him carefully and keep what I am thinking to myself.
If you can accept this unforgiving minute then you’ll be a man, my son.
But if you refuse to accept it and live your dreams to the full then maybe, just maybe, you’ll be something more.