Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 14 March 2014
What do you want to be when you grow up?
"It didn't happen."
This was all the boy could say when I told him what his sister had seen the week before when the glasses shot off the shelf. This conversation was becoming about as fruitful as an argument with a Jehovah's Witness, but there was alcohol involved and we had to talk about something.
There would have been more alcohol involved, but thankfully the boy took our money to buy a couple more bottles and went off to spend it in a pub with his mate, leaving us with his girlfriend and mobile phone so he couldn't be contacted.
The next day, the boy began planning the same group holiday in a rented cottage in France that I have been planning since he really was a boy, but I said I couldn't see it happening any time soon. He thought I was talking about herding cats, but I did not tell him that I would not want to spend a week with him in some isolated French Gite until he had grown up, for fear of sparking another tantrum.
My best guess is that this process will take another ten years if it happens at all, which is why I still call him 'the boy'. He needs the perspective of a bit more adversity in his life, and not just the monthly problem of finding the rent on his inexpensive, large and well-situated flat which he shares with 2 others, but I really don't want to wish it on him.
Things have just fallen into his lap, and I am still very proud of him for being the only person I have ever heard of who leaves film school and gets a job in the industry immediately, bypassing the usual steps on the ladder which invariably involve running and making tea.
In under a year, he has left college, left that good job and is now Assistant Editor to a production company whose headquarters is 30 yards away from his flat. He is 21 years old, and obviously good at what he has decided to do. In a few weeks, you will see his name on the credits of some very popular TV shows, and quite near the top as well.
It is only a matter of time - and if this brief history is anything to go by, not much of it - before he will be deeper into the production process, ending up in the direction side of it, which he has set his heart on since he really could be called a 'boy'.
He doesn't appear to be driven by ambition like many other successful people, he just tells us what is going to happen and then it does. It is almost as if nobody has told him that some things are impossible, so he has entered adulthood with the same mind-set as a child, for whom anything is possible. If this is the case, then why does he refuse to accept the account of an 'impossible' event as witnessed by his own sister?
I sometimes envy single-minded people, but I wonder what I would be like as a person if I had been born knowing what I was going to do from the very beginning. Maybe that is the normal state, but for most people it leads to a great deal of bitter disappointment and compromise.
It says a lot that my few heroes include John Aubrey, who is right there at the top of the list. The rest of them do not necessarily excel in their chosen careers either, but at least have been good enough at them to come to my attention hundreds of years later.
I was realistic enough at age 30 or so to know that I was not good enough to be a writer as I discovered that I desired to be, but I thought that with a little more practice and experience of the world, I could be. Now I find myself telling other people how hard it is to get taken on after the age of 50 when they try to encourage me. I've never been good at taking rejection, especially from women. There's a difference between child-like and childish.
Yesterday, a robin came into my workshop during lunch when I wasn't there and shat on that piece of white marble. It had been eating some sort of purple berries, and it left a deep stain which will take a great deal of effort to remove. I have turned into a 63 year-old expert on how to clean robin-shit off white marble.
Do you know, I think that I will not bother to clean the purple shit-stain from that piece. Despite being the most complicated, crispest and most labour-intensive bit of marble carving I have ever been asked to do, once it is finished and in place, the client will have to get on his hands and knees to see it.
The client is also one of the most single-minded and successful people I have ever met in my life as well.