From When I Had Nothing (and everything)
It’s June 1999.
It’s about 1:30am and, unusually, it’s warm and balmy down the front of Gourock in Scotland where I am living.
I’m walking home from the 6th year leavers dinner at the Gantock Hotel with people from my school class and my art teacher Miss McBride (she was gorgeous, I loved her) on one of those rare nights in the west of Scotland in June where there is a patch of light in the sky that never fades for the whole night. We walked towards that along the front, beside the river in the glorious warmth of summer temperature and too much to drink.
That was nearly 30 years ago but I remember it well (I can even remember what I was wearing), the sense of loss is quite terribly when I think about it.
Back then I had nothing, or next to nothing. I had a job in the Blue Bird café selling ice cream for an angry Italian man that I would soon give up to pack shelves for Tesco because the money was better (I think Tesco was £2.50 an hour). I had almost no clothes and very little in the way of electrical consumable items.
I think we had a ZX Spectrum. I had a massive clock radio that I used to put under my pillow at night and listen to Radio Luxembourg before I went to sleep.
I was though, of course, as wealthy as wealthy could be in many other areas.
I had both my parents who loved me and I had loads and loads of friends with whom we had loads and loads of great times.
I played basketball for crazy amounts of hours per week and I had just (although without knowing it) retired from my basketball career as the captain of the national team.
More than that though I had my whole life in front of me opening out into uncertainty, excitement and possibility.
I had been accepted to study dentistry at University of Glasgow without any real concept of what that would involve or where it might take me. No idea of what the potential financial rewards of dentistry were or even where I might end up living.
Even as I write this there is a hole in my chest thinking about childhood and a young adulthood that is gone and lost.
The crazy truth though is that the possibility and excitement that I felt as I walked along the front of Gourock in June 1999 is still there for the taking for me and for all of us if we choose to reach out.
The possibility almost never disappears, we just let it sink.
We stop taking risks and we stop dreaming about what might be a better place and where that might be.
Some years after the walk along the front I discovered the Idlewild album called ‘Hope is Important’.
Probably never ever a better title for an album than that.
Blog post number: 1609