Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Why are we doing this?
...the same two reasons people always give for leaving London - in the hope of having more money and a better life.
Something I've repeated even more often than the bit about not getting VFM out of LDN is "I don't have a problem with working hard, and I don't have a problem with being skint. But I've been doing both for twenty-odd years now and I'm bloody bored of it." We were massively lucky to get our house when we did - we literally could not have afforded fifty quid more. But, although the mortgage we got wouldn't buy a two bed flat round here now, it's been pretty much beyond my means since day one. I haven't had a proper pay rise in ten years and had got into the kind of debt that (although it's a fraction of that with which the average graduate starts out in working life nowadays) spirals out of control. I simply couldn't make the repayments as well as keep up with the mortgage and cover all the rest of the bills. The numbers just weren't adding up, which, in tandem with how tough I was finding the job (more of which another time), meant things were going to have to change.
Would I stay here if (pathetically hypothetically) I could find a new, better-paid job? No. I need a change of lifestyle too. If I admitted I was a borderline alcoholic, M would snort and say that there is nothing borderline about it. To an even greater degree than the average middle class man with a beard (I have had one for 16 years, by the way - I pretty much invented not shaving) I've been a very enthusiastic participant in the craft beer palaver, the success of which seems to be down to the lifestyle phenomenon of turning what's essentially a Very Bad Habit into an "avid interest".
Apart from drinking beer, my other hobby has always been buying and playing records. I've (actively) played them in pubs and clubs around London and beyond for 23 years. Once I tried to give up teaching to concentrate on working as a dj but it soon became apparent I might drink and debt myself to death. Sitting at home listening to records (passively) is nice, but didn't happen often enough when I was working as a teacher. I want to live the music experience and share it with people, along with my enthusiasm for beer, without drinking it all. And I need to get more exercise.
I'm at least a couple of stone overweight. I don't hate myself for it, as, since all I ever do in my free time is eat and drink, I might expect it to be worse. I really enjoy being active and love all sorts of sports (despite not being very good at any of them) but have virtually never found the time to participate over the last eleven years - the time that I have had children. Shouldn't I be doing sports with my children? Of course, but they come home from school tired, just wanting to relax. At the weekends (the only time computer games are allowed), they feel, if asked to do anything else, they're being denied a favourite thing, to which they are entitled. They do work really hard at school and their behaviour is excellent.
Are they being overworked at school? Possibly, but they're not being nagged to death with an education like the kids with whom I worked until recently. Are we going round in circles here? Yes. So it's time to break from the predictable arc and head off at a tangent, wherever that may lead us.