I was inspired this week by reading a blog with the same title by the writer Patrick Gale who reflecting on his earlier life wrote to his younger self. I cannot do justice to his eloquence or the issues he faced but this is my take on this……….
You were always a committed person and certainly a real sense of purpose drove you forward but maybe on occasions it made you a little hot-headed and sometimes a more reflective response might have worked better. Sometimes that inner anger/frustration with others got in the way and left you with mountains to climb to get people back working with you. This happened more on the sports field than at work but you never suffered fools gladly and got that wrong from time to time. I think mistaking commitment for rightness meant you could leave people in your wake and it took you time to get them back. Having said that I think you often did get people back working with you and it was that characteristic which acted as a helpful counterpoint. You quietly forgave people and easily re-established good relations. For all your argumentative spirit you liked accord and disliked simmering conflict. But I guess you could have been a less tough-minded person to know at times.
The softer side of you was not always evident to work colleagues. The single-minded intention to get things done, to work at solutions and deliver quality practices meant there was little time for play. After your days in Doncaster you rarely took time out for lunch and revealed little of your wider self to colleagues. I do not think you were necessarily a private person as when someone wanted to know more of you, you gave openly of yourself. But the drive to succeed meant unless asked you did not take time out. You would have been rewarded better if you had spent more social time with colleagues as you could be a great social companion when someone pressed the right buttons.
You were unlucky in love, notwithstanding the break up of your marriage which just happens. But the focus on work and on your children meant that new opportunities for love were missed. You could, maybe should, have taken more time out for yourself and also pursued a love interest more single-mindedly. You were rightly putting your children first and they got most of your love, and work got most of the rest. But you spent a lot of time with the cricket club which was close to your heart but that scuppered chances for you find space for another person close to your heart. You would have been an attentive, caring and committed lover and anyone caught up with you would have enjoyed the ride. You would have been good in a partnership but it has not really happened apart from your dalliances in Hong Kong.
You might have tried harder to resist the ravages of time on your health. You made spirited attempts to lose weight on more than one occasion and at the time each seemed successful. Sustaining such changes was much harder and you drifted back into weight gain. The lure of bacon sandwiches, fish and chips and real ale jointly share the responsibility with butter! This did not seem to impact on you whilst still playing cricket but post-50 you could have done with a fat clear-out. Would it have made a difference to your health problems now, you will never really know but logic suggests it might have done.
You always wrote well but too infrequently. Your academic outcomes are chronically less than they should be. You wrote some good pieces but your influence was more in your verbal utterances through speeches, workshops and teaching. You are a great communicator but when the dust settles will you regret not completing some of the many projects which died on the cutting room floor. You choose instead to influence through social media and blogging, no bad thing and very immediate in its impact. Was this though a little lazy and should you have pushed for a more sustained academic contribution – probation: policy and practice over 40 years – deserved your literary mark on it.
Would life had gone differently if your younger self had exercised more financial acumen. You lived on the cusp of bankruptcy for too long in your life and this could be conceived as careless. You were paid enough to be careless and of course you never lacked generosity. Your children benefitted greatly from this but at a financial cost to you. In the early days of freelancing, a financially risky undertaking itself, your energy and enthusiasm saw you achieve good money which you ploughed back into your kid’s education and well-being. Little was kept back for a rainy day and that day came when undiagnosed illness, eventually identified as sleep apnoea, made working at a pace difficult. Then you lost money, ultimately sold your house and had to re-build. Refreshingly I don’t think lack of money ever worried you for long and it is remarkable that in retirement you have found solvency for now. Please manage it well.
You have rushed through life a bit and only in these latter days have you enjoyed new interests like photography and bird spotting. Maybe more time outs would have enabled you to pursue things you like – such as novels, cooking and travelling – which you have done but around the business of your life. You have often forgotten there are only 24 hours in the day but others have gained from that zest for life, an attitude of positivity and glass half full approach to everything you have done. Maybe it would not have been you to slow down, it’s my observation only. Whatever speed you have led your life no one can doubt your commitment to people, to your work and to cricket, indeed whatever you have turned your hand to and you have responded to your latest bout of cancer with similar determination. Keep at it.
Love from the old man.
My week in photos