Thursday, 31 May 2007


What do you want to be when you grow up? It seems a straightforward question, but as one does get older and perhaps realises that one won’t be what one wanted to be, it gets increasingly more difficult to answer.

When I was a kid it was easy – an astronaut, no question. Like so many more before me, caught in that perfect time between moon-landing and shuttle-disaster, around the time that Han Solo made flying rocket ships look cool, easy and roguish, I was sold on the dream that one day mankind would fly about the cosmos as freely as fat kids roll about supermarkets on their shoes now. I even wrote a letter to NASA, as I’m sure countless kids did and do, asking what I needed to start me on the road to astronauting.

But the dream didn’t last. You see, I got an ear infection from too much swimming, one that messed up my balance and meant that I wouldn’t be made of the right stuff. Now, before you jump in and tell me that being fit and healthy is one stage of astronauting, and there is the whole issue of a whole realm of skills and boxes that need to be ticked to even get close to being possibly picked to fly a mission into outer space, lets just think about one thing, I was a six year old kid that was effectively being told that I would never ever, no matter what, ever be able to do that one thing that I really wanted to do when I grew up. So I regrouped, rethought my position, and decided that I would be a mechanic. I stopped drawing space ships and started drawing Shell garages instead. Doesn’t sound too bad? Well, consider my heartache – I hate cars. Even as a kid, I couldn’t care less about them. I was undertaking the equivalent of career self-harming.

Luckily this didn’t last, and I was soon drawing space ships again, sure that none of that stupid ear stuff would matter – that rockets would be jetting about freely and everyone would have access to the stars. Not going to happen, is it.

So here we are now. I’ve decided to change career, partly because the job that I was doing wasn’t proving to be a viable financial option, and partly because I couldn’t actually stand the people that I was working with for the most part. There was the odd person here or there, but most of them were just fantastic shits.

Now of course, I’m not sure if I’m actually coming up with things that I want to be when I grow up because I need to say something that sounds responsible, making sure that I can pay the bills and look after my family and all that adult stuff, or if the pressure of expectation, of what I think people think I should be to look successful, is playing on my mind. One of my favourite jobs was putting books on the shelves of a particularly peaceful branch of Waterstone’s, but that won’t do anymore, will it?

What do I want to be when I grow up? Do I have to answer now?

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