The earliest ambition I recall having was to become a Beatle.
I must have been five or younger, and for some reason was obsessed with the Beatles. I don’t know why I wanted to be one of them, but the ambition was short-lived.
A few years later my interests had moved on and I loved writing plays. They were mostly re-writings of stories I’d seen on the TV (a Jesse James film, Land of the Giants, The Champions). I also tried to adapt a story from an Archie comic book.
For a short time I had a teacher who allowed my little plays to be acted out in front of the class, using some classmates as actors.
Around that time I had decided I wanted to be a scriptwriter when I grew up, even though I didn’t know where or how such a career could be achieved. At that age those kind of details weren’t even thought of.
Moving on to High School, my favourite school assignments were related to written story telling: short stories, “radio” plays, poetry and even short video pieces – using pre-cassette video technology. Again my output was often derivative, influenced by The Goons, Morecambe and Wise, James Bond books… But by then reality had amended my employment expectations, and making a living from writing wasn’t seen as a possibility.
My family was very traditional working class, not used to pursuing ambition.
Not used to thinking in terms of careers or career paths.
After school you got a job to pay your way in life. A job was a means to a liveable income enabling the purchase of a home and the support of a family.
Nobody in my wider family had been to university. As far as I’m aware no one in my wider family had ever considered university. We weren’t that kind of people. Those options had never been available to us.
The majority of the men in my family were (or had been) miners working in harsh, dangerous conditions. A good job was anything that avoided that path – like working in an office.
I found work in a bank, starting as an office junior, and since then all of my fulltime jobs have been office-bound, administration clerical positions.
A few times I tried to escape from the routine and tedium but somehow always found myself back where I started – back to where I am today, office bound, working for a large company doing mundane work.
Whenever I thought about escaping to pursue other possibilities, that very early writing ambition seemed to offer possibilities.
In the early 1990s I decided to do something about it. I resigned from my job and enrolled at University, studying creative writing and English literature.