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October 03, 2007

Looking back

Today I celebrate one year of retirement. And I seem to have worked harder than ever before for most of it and now, in the run up to Christmas, there seems to be even more work coming in - no bad thing according to my Bank Manager. That said, a long running conversation with a friend has given me cause to look back at where I have come from and what I have achieved since I left school forty three years ago. And, as I said to her, I think I have to pinch myself to make sure this isn't some sort of idle dream.

I seem to have managed to pack in quite a lot of things somehow, much to my own surprise, and probably to the amazement of everyone who knew me at school. I was much more interested in sailing, swimming and surfing than in school work so I left school without a university bursary lined up and no idea of what I was going to do for a living - truth to tell I wasn't even sure how to go about getting a proper job anyway and I certainly wasn't prepared for anything at all. I had some vague ideas about the priesthood and had in fact been selected as an ordinand, subject to completing three years working and national service. So I landed a job, thanks to my father's boss with a bank. Banker material I was not and three years of that proved it. I did go to Theological College, but found that I was not in tune with the direction that required at that time (Again if the truth be told I was far to immature!) and so drifted out into the world again. Having been a Scout (Sea Scouts actually!) I had also drifted into being a Scoutmaster and then into the St John Ambulance Brigade, which in turn led me into the fire service .....

Looking back from where I am now I still find it quite amazing that I can now wave two degreees, seven diplomas and umpteen certificates that I have earned at anyone who is impressed by these things. Considering that I started out from one of the tougher and poorer quarters of a place called East London - and it's not the one on the Thames, but one further South on the Buffalo River - some of where I have been and done is simply unbelievable. Another reason I pinch myself regularly. No one who knew me then would believe that I have been presented to several Royals, taken tea with the premier uke in the land and his heir in their private library, hosted dinners as a Mess President for people who feature among the famous and for those whose achievements are perhaps known only within their particular profession. The high point surely being asked to Preside at a dinner for several hundred held in the Signet Library in Edinburgh.

I have published books, currently two technical titles and one novel. I have several more in preparation and hope to publsih many more. Even my list of published papers surprises me - what could I possibly have to say that in interesting?

Even more amazing is the travelling I have undertaken professionally and the matters on which I find myself being consulted. There have been many highs along the way and a few lows as well, but on the whole it was a very enjoyable journey, with many really great colleagues and a lot of friends of all walks of life and all types as well. It has been an amazing journey, one made all the more interesting and enjoyablke by those who have helped me to achieve it and who helped make me the person I am. I can think of a very large number of people who have been an influence in my life, particularly in my formative years. My parents, my maternal grandparents, the priest who prepared me for confirmation, people who lent me boats and taught me to sail, people who taught me values and respect for others. Some stand out, others are less easily identified, a few, a very few, were negative influences, but even they had an ultimately positive effect.

Yes, I have some regrets, things I have not achieved, journeys not taken. I wish I had become a priest, but who can say if I would ever have made a good one? No, what is done is now done, what I have left undone is probably best left that way too. And there is still time to achieve some more if I stop blathering on and wallowing in the past.

As I contemplate the end of my first year of retirement, I find myself thinking, "Is that me? - Nah, can't be, that dumb kid from the Quigney couldn't have done all that, he didn't have the brains or the drive." Or did he?

Posted by The Gray Monk at October 3, 2007 03:40 PM

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Hey i also started out as a Sea Cadet (US version of Sea Scouts)

Posted by: skipjack at October 3, 2007 11:39 PM