I was going to split these up but have decided to splatter it into one post, long read, if you have time. It’s been a busy 35yrs.
[Background note to this post: a conversation triggered by my 9 yr old got me categorising my life so far. Yesterday’s post can be accessed via link below, the rest is here].
Years 6 – present >
Years 6 – 11: I recall moving from nursery to Primary School and it was really the start of the Golden Era of education. I had excellent teachers and nice friends, I hated swimming lessons in the winter, and we had an outdoor pool. I wasn’t as bright as the other kids in my class but I loved art and drawing. I was still up to no good and got a slap on my skinny leg by the headmaster, I will never forget that.
I remember summer holidays away to my cousins place in the midlands, breakfast followed by hours of riding bikes and exploring new places, I wish someone had told me then that I should write down these experiences at the time.
I was still a naughty “chappie”, always getting into trouble for messing about. I recall one time my cousin and I landed ourselves into the neighbour’s garden to pinch some of his apples, he wasn’t too happy and informed my mum. As we pondered around our garden with the neighbour’s apples, I had revenge on my mind, “let’s teach him a lesson” I said. We hurled his apples at his patio, he was furious, and I was shitting myself as when the clock hit 6pm and my father came home, I wished the ground opened and swallowed me up.
Emotions were high and butterflies in the stomach when we all parted to embark on Secondary education. It was also the only time when my younger sister and I would be at the same educational establishment, I know she used my reputation to get her way in school, although she could pretty much hold her own.
Most Memorable Achievement > While at home baby-sitting my younger brother (I was 11 at this point), he opened a Kinder Egg and started munching at the chocolate. He then smashed the yellow plastic shell (which contained a toy) and put a fragment in his mouth. I swiftly noticed this and managed to pluck it back out. Had I saved his life? Not sure but I became a national hero in the family, tales of which are still reverberated at parties and gatherings.
Years 12 – 16.4: Secondary school was excellent in my opinion; I didn’t have a clue about the state education and all the politics that surrounded it. We worked hard, played hard; it was the height of white’s v blacks and Asians and after spending my first year getting into fights and protecting the honour, we proved our worth amongst the majority and a certain mutual respect existed.
I was getting hair on my chin, I was becoming an adult for God’s sake! There are obviously a multitude of elements with becoming a teenager that I can’t really divulge in, but I was a very happy teenager and didn’t feel (like so many today) that the whole world was against me. Amongst the many friends I made at school, one of them invited me around one afternoon, after school and while sitting in his lounge, he put on a movie called “Sex Academy”, it was my first intro to the porn world, I was taken back, a little embarrassed. His mum walked at that very point, the sound of that slap on his face could be heard for miles I understand, she apologised to me, said his son’s behaviour was most inappropriate. I agreed. We became best of friends, he was the tallest and hardest lad in our year, I was smiling all the way to the bank.
Oh, my younger sister and brother were now growing fast and we formed a band, which consisted of the lead singer, my sis, a guitar player, my brother and a drummer, me (that’s two cricket wickets being banged on a sofa). We were a dream, just never got signed up. We also spent a whole day making a short 5 minute movie called “The Shed”. It included the neighbour’s kids, it was too horrific and never got past the censors.
I celebrated my 16th Birthday at home, it was a religious ceremony in the day followed by a small party, with friends and family, I was on cloud nine.
Most Memorable Achievement > I scored the winning penalty in our school’s only football cup final, we were serious underdogs, I blasted it straight down the middle, it lifted and hit the top bar and slid in. I was someone in school after that.
Years 16.5 – 16.7: An unexpected tragedy rocked our lives; I lost my father, a great man and someone who I only started getting to know as a friend. Accepted! Gods Will! My mother and I travelled to India with the ashes, leaving behind my sister and brother, it was a tough time. I had been to India twice before, but I was protected, shielded. I now was my mother’s shield and protection; she was at her most vulnerable. India is a mad place and the people even more mad. After scattering the ashes, my mother and I embarked on a pilgrimage to a place called Hemkund Sahib, a two-week journey that really shaped me into who I am today. I experienced and saw many things that others may question as to their authenticity, but these are my personal experiences and I was under no emotional illusion. The journey to Hemkund Sahib was a very difficult one, both the route to the location and the pilgrimage itself, it truly was a life changing experience. All I can say is that on our return, my mother and I were refreshed and ready to tackle life head-on.
Most Memorable Achievement > Hemkund Sahib pilgrimage. It is written that every Sikh should visit Hemkund Sahib once in their lifetime, if they can afford to. I hadn’t planned it but my visit was already written by someone. It was an immense emotional battle, the distance, the upward climb to the top of the mountain, where we would bath in the icy water and spend 30mins praying in the temple. I remember putting up camp at the foot of the mountain, night before our climb, walking out to the sound of pure clean water, people gathered singing hymns, it was the purest moment I had experienced.
Years 17 – 21: Education! Education Education! Head down, work hard and make something of myself. I worked through GCSE’s, A-Levels and a degree from University. We as a family supported each other so closely, keeping tight and away from anything that might threaten the very fabric of what we were all working towards. Time passed oh so quick, however I learnt some important lessons.
Most Memorable Achievement > We were all mixed with sadness and joy at my graduation, smile on my mum’s face though was something that could not be described. We all never looked back.
Years 22 – 24: So what follows Education, Education Education? Work, Work, Work! Post degree bound I found trade in the City and started working away, trying to save some ££ however I was not very good at that to be honest. As some of you may know, when work descends upon our lives, there’s not much room for anything else. As a singleton, I didn’t do much of the things that maybe other’s might have done, travel the world, work abroad. Constraints born out of a situation put the blockers on anything like that. However, my younger sister started University and it was a great (yet emotional) feeling to help her settle in at her accommodation in London. For a moment my mind did betray me and I wished I had lived away while at University, but sometimes you have to accept the time and moment, never force the issue.
Word on the street was that I was working and on the market for marriage. I won’t go into much detail but I was once invited to a dinner, my relatives informed me that I was to use “part of the evening” to get to know the daughter of the person who invited us. Problem is, this chap had two daughters also on the market and no one in my family knew which girl it was. On top of that, the father got quite tipsy and started blubbering away, to which I took an instant dislike. The daughters seemed nice and I wished them the best of luck in the future!
Most Memorable Achievement > Oh, I got engaged, to a Northern Lass from Yorkshire. As dark my years were between 17 – 24, my prize was a cracking life partner, truly handpicked from above.
Years 25 – 27: Marriage, holidays, work, self-realisation and understanding the real meaning of being two people, one soul, family planning! End of!
Most Memorable Achievement > I will roll up marriage into the last achievement (yrs 22-24). Nothing will beat the arrival of our first son (our second equals it). I was eating sausage, chips and beans in the hospital when my wife went into labour. Great thing is she didn’t swear and was exceptionally brave. We were proud parents, I was a dad, at that moment I missed my own father but realised how he must have felt, holding me in his arms for the very first time.
Years 28 – 32: Period of consolidation, further self-realisation, further finding my feet and getting to grips with raising a child. The time following a new additional to your family passes you by in a blink of an eye. I was lucky enough to work for an organisation who valued work-life balance, giving my maximum time to enjoy fatherhood and support my wife. The realisation that as a parent you are now responsible for shaping the most critical years of someone’s life can never anticipated, planned, practiced, only experienced once you are in the thick of it.
Most Memorable Achievement > Having my own little family, established and flourishing.
Years 33 – present (35): It’s a late evening in December and my wife has a doc appointment. As I sit in the car listening to something on the radio, she comes back to the car, sits in and says I better be ready for more sleepless nights. I punch the air in anticipation, I was ready after the first one, but then that’s just me being selfish. The birth of our second child was rapid, too funny to explain the events of the morning leading up to the birth. All I can recall is my mother-in-law calling me up to check how the routine hospital appointment went, to which I responded with telling her she was a grandmother again. I must admit I was much more emotional this time around, not sure why. With new additions there comes more responsibility, but that’s what life is about, contributing to the human race, passing down your experiences and creating a solid foundation for the next generation. This period of my life also saw the marriage of my sister, a very proud moment, seeing where we came from and the challenges we faced. My younger brother is now next on the cards!
Most Memorable Achievement > Being gifted our newest (and last) member to our small, established and flourishing family.
So what’s in store for the next 35 years, God knows!
How about you? How would you categorise your life so far and the things you have experienced?