Wednesday, 18 February 2015

What do you want to be if you grow up?

I sit sipping coffee in the morning sunshine, safe in the knowledge that my new, glamorous assistant-come-apprentice is busy finishing off an urgent job as he has been since 7.30 this morning. He is doing very well, and all I have to do is start him off by demonstrating a patch and how to deal with it, then leave him to it.

It is not ideal, but I just cannot be with him the whole time, and in any case, it is the wrong time of year/life for me to get up at 5.30 to go to work. This is why I aint rich. Also, the item is too small for two people to huddle over it. The other thing is that I am genuinely juggling a few projects at the same time, and one of them requires me to send and respond to emails in the morning - honest.

I was on my client's estate yesterday when I heard the sound of a fire engine racing around the grounds with siren wailing and - presumably - lights flashing as well. The actual estate covers an area which would easily accommodate a largish village, so I was disconcerted to hear it suddenly turn around and go in a different direction - sometimes away from the house and sometimes toward it. Were they lost, I began to wonder? You really cannot miss the main house, so I also began to wonder if the driver was either blind or stupid.

This carried on for a disconcertingly long period of time before the engine finally appeared in the yard of the estate, lights switched off and panic over. I asked where the fire was and was told that the machine had just been booked to give the children - on half-term holiday - a ride in it.

Anyone can book a ride in a fire engine by simply making a donation to the station, and I think the firemen love it. There are always pictures in local newspapers of children wearing massive, yellow helmets, when a visit is made to a school to show the children the correct way of setting fire to themselves, and this is a real social service.

Am I unusual in that I never wanted to either drive a fire engine or a train when I was a kid? The thought never occurred to me to do either when I was asked what I would like to be a little later in my life.

I started out saying that I wanted to keep up the family tradition by joining the RAF, then the reality of doing that was brought home to me by my brother, who was sent to hostile areas such as the Yemen and duplicitous Cyprus.

So I declared an ambition to be a T.V. cameraman when asked by an adult about the future, and one of the adults was a maths teacher. I was absolutely appallingly bad at simple mathematics.

He told me that I stood no chance of being a cameraman, because you needed a degree in maths to work out camera-angles, and in an instant he destroyed a really achievable dream, just because I actually believed him.

This is just another example of how bad the school I went to was, and how nasty, mean-spirited and ignorant teachers can wreck a child's life (not that mine was wrecked) by pretending to be a teach and getting paid for it.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

45 comments:

  1. Darling Tom,

    We, of course, shall never grow up. We are the proverbial Peter Pan and Wendy in search of Tinkerbelle, in the form of a Mad Boy,to make our lives totally complete. Still, as we often say......life is all about the journey not the arriving!

    We are delighted to read that the new assistant is working out well. Can we be allowed a picture of this handsome apprentice with his nose to the grindstone at some point?

    Yesterday, it was as if the whole city had arranged for yours on fire engines as the wailing of sirens and whirring of helicopter blades carried on from early morning to late at night. Mr Putin was in town.......negotiating gas contracts.....so they say.

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    1. You have reminded me that I was infatuated with Tinkerbelle when I was a child - I don't know what Freud would make of that, but I have been searching for an eight-inch woman ever since, and not because I think they are easier to control. In my experience, the smaller they are, the harder to handle.

      Sadly I will not be posting his picture up.

      Poor old Putin (!) forced to resort to flying about to scratch-up as much foreign currency as he can.

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  2. The careers officer only came to our school once and we had to see him in the stock cupboard { well, that's what he told me !!!! } I told him that I would really like to do prosthetic make-up for films etc. and he told me not to be so silly !!!! I think that I would have been really good at it and would probably have an Oscar by now !!
    I went to a really academic school that thought art, and anything to do with it, was the work of the devil !! XXXX

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    1. How do these people get the jobs for which they are so obviously unqualified?

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  3. I once had a guidance councillor in school tell me I was going to be be a big nothing as an adult...a zero...blot on society. I must admit I was delighted to find her several years later handing out samples of cookies at a local supermarket. I went on to start my own company. Perhaps it was her nasty comment that ultimately motivated me to succeed, but her unkind comment has never left me.

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    1. That's the trouble - even her demise doesn't make up for the childhood hurt. Oh well, we all have to grow up to understand that not everyone grows up I suppose.

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  4. And my sixth grade teacher called me to her desk to tell me I was average; always had been, always would be.
    Like Camille, I never forgot the assessment, and never let it stop me.

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    1. So it was/is pretty universal, this insensitivity toward kids, then.

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  5. Visiting this blog often reminds me of my schooldays when I am made to feel like a useless piece of shit.

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    1. I have never tried to make you feel like that. Where's your humour gone?

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    2. I sometimes think the same of you.

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  6. Hey Tom: Glad the assistant is working out.
    I wanted to be an archaeologist/anthropologist. Was told it wasn't practical. Good thing is that one of my nieces is currently working on her anthropology degree. She also is the niece that looks like she could be my daughter, so that makes me happy.

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    1. Now if you said you wanted to be a pop star....

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  7. My husband's careers officer said 'computers will never catch on. Coalmining though - 'Britain will ALWAYS have a coal industry!' lol

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I'm not deaf, Wanda... Right now they are saying that there will always be an NHS, but just you wait. If private companies profit from keeping people in prison, then they would - if they could afford it - get them to run the health service too, especially as drug companies are no longer allowed to take GPs on skiing holidays.

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    2. Sorry! Don't know how that happened :-)

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    3. Looks like it happened to KitKatCot as well...

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  9. As an ex teacher I agree with much of what you say here Tom. My old teacher when I passed the 11+ told me that she always knew I would pass because ' you don't have a pretty face but you have an intelligent forehead.' that remark destroyed my confidence for years.

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    1. I failed my 11+ so I had to grow a pretty face, Weave.

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    2. Oh, and it didn't last too long either.

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  10. Adversity is good for the young. These molly coddled young 'uns today think they are the cat's pyjamas just for getting up in the morning and getting their legs into their trousers in the right order. Bah humbug. Seriously though, I was told by my first form teacher I was "A jack of all trades and a master of none" which was the most terrible thing to tell me, as actually I AM really good at a bunch of diverse stuff, which this aphorism completely invalidated. I think she was trying to get me to address my inability to focus on anything in particular. It didn't work, I still have the boredom threshold of a goldfish. I never knew what I wanted to do, I had very few role models for careers. At one point I wanted to be a set designer for theatre, but back then it would have meant going to Europe to train, and I'd never been to Auckland, so the idea was utterly beyond my comprehension. I thought I wanted to be a costumier until I worked on a show in our local professional theatre and found them the most petty, bitchy, rank orientated bores. (wardrobe was at the very bottom of the hierarchy of course).
    In the interests of full disclosure, I MAY have said the odd thing to children I taught that could have been a mistake. Like one in whose report I said he was like a video recorder with no manual - a genius with many functions but no idea how to access them. Poor kid. He was blighted by a dreamer father and disillusioned mother. He has done well for himself however, but I do hope he doesn't still remember that comment as some kind of damning of him.

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    1. My new apprentice shows great diplomacy as well as skill - a rare thing in a person of 26.

      For instance, rather than describing me as a 'Jack of of all trades...', he introduced me to a colleague as 'The Swiss Army Knife of stone, marble and all things sculptural.'

      And I am supposed to be HIS teacher.

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  11. When I grow up I would like to be content, or an RAF pilot.

    I'm 58 next month, is that grown up?

    The RAF thing is about a careers talk when I was at school. I expressed an interest in the RAF and was asked 'Would I like to be a secretary or do something in catering?' 'No, I'd like to be a pilot' The silence was deafening.

    Many years later, when I read of the first female RAF pilot my first thought was 'well done you' and my second was 'That was my job, bitch'

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    1. Firstly, thanks for increasing my comments hit-count.

      The USSR had women doing all sorts of things, but we disbanded the Land Army and munition-workers in 1945 or so,

      Say what you will about Saddam Hussein, but his personal bodyguard was the only group in that category who I would have willingly taken on dates, one by one.

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  12. When I grow up I would like to be content, or an RAF pilot.

    I'm 58 next month, is that grown up?

    The RAF thing is about a careers talk when I was at school. I expressed an interest in the RAF and was asked 'Would I like to be a secretary or do something in catering?' 'No, I'd like to be a pilot' The silence was deafening.

    Many years later, when I read of the first female RAF pilot my first thought was 'well done you' and my second was 'That was my job, bitch'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Firstly, thanks for increasing my comments hit-count.

      The USSR had women doing all sorts of things, but we disbanded the Land Army and munition-workers in 1945 or so,

      Say what you will about Saddam Hussein, but his personal bodyguard was the only group in that category who I would have willingly taken on dates, one by one.

      Delete
  13. When I grow up I would like to be content, or an RAF pilot.

    I'm 58 next month, is that grown up?

    The RAF thing is about a careers talk when I was at school. I expressed an interest in the RAF and was asked 'Would I like to be a secretary or do something in catering?' 'No, I'd like to be a pilot' The silence was deafening.

    Many years later, when I read of the first female RAF pilot my first thought was 'well done you' and my second was 'That was my job, bitch'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Firstly, thanks for increasing my comments hit-count.

      The USSR had women doing all sorts of things, but we disbanded the Land Army and munition-workers in 1945 or so,

      Say what you will about Saddam Hussein, but his personal bodyguard was the only group in that category who I would have willingly taken on dates, one by one.

      Delete
    2. Oops... Sorry about that. I have no idea how it happened.

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  14. When I was a child I had a number of career fantasies: monk, lorry driver, electronics engineer. None of them came true.

    Most careers advice -I base this on my own experience and on anecdotal evidence- seems to be and always has been generally truly terrible.

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    1. What did you end up as?

      Yes, truly terrible and - more often than not - given in the stationary cupboard. It was at my school, but I didn't bother to attend. I was booked in for Art School anyway.

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  15. I don't think I ever had aspirations of any sort. However, for some odd-ball reason my extended family had it in their heads that I would go to Sandhurst and become an army officer. They were all quite shocked when I landed-up on the Stock Exchange.

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    1. About 13 years ago, I had a pang of regret that I didn't go to Sandhurst. I realised that I would have been retired on a generous army pension by then - if I had survived Northern Ireland.

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  16. I've just remembered how disappointed my mother was that I didn't leave Art School and become a professional and successful artist overnight.

    I understood how out of touch she was when we drove past some scaffolding and she said, "If you work hard, one day you will be able to have your own scaffolding like that."

    I had been trying to get off scaffolding for years by then.

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  17. Hello Tom
    This is my first visit. When I was at high school, I wanted to be a journalist. I managed to arrange some work experience during the Summer holidays at the local paper. Anyhow sadly a local boy had been messing around, pulled some football posts over on himself and died. The journo I was working with wanted to go over the same day to interview the boys Mother. I decided that I wasn't cut out for being a heartless shit and changed my mind. However at 45 I still have absolutely no idea what I really want to do....
    Twiggy

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    1. Hello Twiggy. Is it to late to be a 1960s fashion heroine? Everything else sounds like shite.

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    2. Shame you never took heroin (without an e) then?

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  18. When I grew up I achieved it. I became head of a religious movement.
    It has no name, it has a non-intereference policy, and has a restricted membership of 1.

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    1. I've no idea. I'm still waiting for contact.

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  19. I wanted to be a fighter pilot until I became more ethically aware, but the careers teacher said I should aim to be a lab technician. Dizzy heights of aspiration there.

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    1. He/she probably meant, 'labia technician', or am I being a tad too flippant?

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