People being disappointed in me I can handle. I’d even go as far as saying I’m used to it, and what’s more, untroubled by it. But there’s nothing quite as disappointing as, well, being disappointed in yourself. And people, I am very disappointed in myself. The disappointment I presently feel is greater even than the disappointment I felt when clearing my dad’s bedsit after he passed away and finding a stash of dirty pictures he’d taken of his latest floozy. And believe me, I was disappointed with that.
This is just so not where I thought I’d be at my age. I thought by now I’d be an established cultural commentator (having been forced out of Tears For Fears in the early ‘90s), with my own Wikipedia page regularly updated by an 11-year-old cousin in exchange for some cigarette money.
I’d be sharing a sofa with the likes of Miranda Sawyer and John Harris on the BBC’s Review Show, casting my eye over the arts in a nasal South London accent that four lots of rhinoplasty have failed to fix. Instead, here I am, interrupting the writing of this column (I like to think it’s a column – that’s what I’m telling my mates this is) to open an email whose subject header reads: ‘5 Steps to Temp Success. Immediate starts. Jobs for the Summer’.
Back to the column. Something would probably blossom between Sawyer and me off camera. The Manc accent, the overbite, the wonderful memory of the fringe she sported for much of the 90s, would combine to overwhelm my heart. With Sawyer now in her forties, I would do my best not to think of the number of lovers she might have had prior to hooking up with me. It would be vital to do this quickly if the relationship were to have any chance of surviving.
Sawyer would probably tell me I’m too much of a closed book for her, but I’d head this off by pretending I was vulnerable and by opening up about the rhinoplasty. On the same evening, I would probably tell her she needs to lose the ridiculous oversized ring she wore on her last Review appearance (incidentally, opposite Sabotage Leader James Brown) because that would mark her out as a potential street robbery victim and if I was there, I would probably have to make a token attempt to catch and grapple with the robber. Grappling on the ground, with bits of old gum and dog dirt lying around, that’s not for me.
She’d also have to work on her posture, which I thought was a little poor on her last appearance on the Review sofa. If our North-South union led to kids – given my current stressful state and faltering performances in the sack, that’s unlikely – she’d have to sign up for a few Alexander Technique sessions. She couldn’t be dropping our kids off at school with a crooked back. That would just lead to the kids being bullied mercilessly by their classmates.
I’d be placing online orders with Abel and Cole that would be delivered to my new poncy SW1 address.
I thought – I thought by now that I’d be a regular on Radio 4 shows, dispensing insights, anecdotes and jokes in equal measure. I’d probably tweet too and have my own weekly podcast, I would imagine.
The ink wouldn’t even be dry on my contract to front a 6- part BBC4 documentary series on the History of Facial Hair before I’d even moved out of Stockwell. I’d probably lose all the working class friends I grew up with who would think me a sell out. I’d begin moving around in poncy media circles, never admitting to the fact that between 2008 – 2010, I was unable to afford The Guardian.
I’d be placing online orders with Abel and Cole that would be delivered to my new poncy SW1 address. I’d have a huge spice rack that went on forever, holding spices I’d never even heard of before I became middle class. Spices I was never going to use. The combined cost of all the spices would be greater than the salaries earned by my erstwhile working class friends.
But that’s where I thought I’d be. The reality is, here I am, still nasal, still skint, spending 8-10 hours a day flitting between jobsites looking for my next horrific role. But I was in Tears For Fears…
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