Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Radio Songs #35: Roads Not Taken

And so I embarked upon what would become one of my main roles at the radio station during my two plus decades of servitude: telephone operator for the late night phone in show. I did this initially five nights a week, although after a few months I had to cut my hours down because combining a 2am finish (plus a 40 minute drive home) and 9am lectures at university proved a little too much. Particularly as I was also still working weekends. The late show started at 10pm, but I arrived in the building a couple of hours prior to that most nights to work in the record library. (Gotta keep getting those free CDs!)

Luckily I had very few friends and no actual social life to speak of... but I did leave uni without any student debt. Would I have made more friends at university if I'd been more available socially outside of class? Possibly. But as most of the students at The University of Huddersfield came from outside the area, and so were living in halls or shared houses, they were having an entirely different university experience to the local boy with a job, still living with his folks. That, coupled with the fact that I still didn't drink or act much like an 19 year old in most other ways, meant I found myself getting on more with the mature students on the course. Many people make lifelong friendships at university; I spent three years there and made zero connections.

I tell myself this would have been different had I gone away to university, but I'm not sure it would. I was a very closed-off person at that age, and although things would happen in my professional life that forced me out of my shell, there's no guarantee that another university would have changed me in the same way. It might have been the making of me... given me the confidence and independence to pursue my writing more... or it might have led me into a post-uni bill-paying job which gave me fewer opportunities to keep the writing going as long as I did. It's one of those sliding doors scenarios where I can see a completely different life had I gone away to uni. I certainly wouldn't have made some of the mistakes I made or stayed in the same radio station for as long as I did.

However... I don't regret missed opportunities because a different life might have meant not ending up where I am today, with my son. I'm not saying my life right now is perfect, but it's all been worthwhile as a path that led me to becoming his father.

Woahhh... this is getting hella-deep. I'm supposed to be writing about the bloody phone in! Apologies, these posts are cheaper than therapy.

35. Diana Ross - Do You Know Where You're Going To? (Theme From Mahogany)

Here's a song I always loved. It's about looking back with regret, a truly pointless endeavour. Lovely tune though. I've never seen the movie Mahogany, starring Diana Ross and directed by Berry Gordy, but most critics seem to agree the most memorable thing about it is this tune...


  1. This really resonates, Rol - not the uni choice aspect, but the path taken/not taken. Hyper-analysing past choices is an infinite rabbit hole that I have fallen down on far too many occasions. The things about rabbit holes is that the grass is greener out on top.

  2. I went to Uni in my home town.
    However I spent the summers working in seaside resorts as a waiter,
    So I suppose I had the best of both worlds and was also debt free

  3. I never went to university, but, straight from school, somehow bagged myself what could be seen at the time as a job for life in an insurance company - indeed, it was just that for a few of my co-workers who never did make it out. A couple of years later I got a Saturday job in a record shop, then left the insurance company to work full time behind the counter. My parents were utterly mortified at my decision, but, bless them, always very supportive. Roads not taken. I wonder where I'd be now if I hadn't left the insurance company.

  4. I didn't really have friends at college either. I lived in a studio apartment in a completely different end of the city from my school so that I could be closer to my girlfriend who was attending another college. With a full course load, 24-hour a week job and constant train rides to see my girlfriend whenever I could, there was no room for further social calls. I had been with her since I was a kid in high school, and I married her a couple of years after college. So, no, can't say I have even one ounce of regret. In fact, even though I didn't have friends at school and was poor as can be, I look on those years as among the best in my 48 years. Unlike your situation, however, I think I loved this time because I moved from my tiny boring hometown to the big city. It made all of the difference.

  5. I sometimes wonder if I had taken the path I didn't take, would I be thinking now about the path I did take as being the path not taken?!
    Weirdly for me, I took a circular path! Left school with ambition of becoming illustrator, studied it at college, but then did various jobs with nothing to do with art for 20 years. Ironically, it was only when I was in my 30s and my mum died - she being the one who had always encouraged me to pursue my artistic ambitions - that I had both an epiphany and opportunity, and next thing you know I'm back to my original ambition of becoming an illustrator. Left my job, studied it at college again. And then finally achieved my ambition. I couldn't have done it at 18, anyway, I needed all that life experience in between.....

  6. Gosh, we're all getting very philosophical with this one but understandably so. I had a great time at University sharing flats, socialising etc but it does mean that life afterwards can be a bit of a comedown. Mr WIAA on the other hand did all his socialising back at home in the holidays and didn't really make any friends on his course - A different set of circumstances can make things turn out differently BUT I am a firm believer that our lives turn out just the way they are supposed to whatever route we take, all down to the personality types we are and the kind of decisions we are likely to make. I look now at my old student friends and they all seem to be absolutely loaded! Oil came to Aberdeen at just the right time for my generation but for some reason I seem to always choose the option that will make life as difficult for myself as possible (financially speaking) - Never quite worked out why but in the main been happy with my choices, as I like a simple life.

    Loved the song from Mahogany and although I son't remember ever seeing the film I do remember buying the paperback in our local newsagents. I have no idea now what the story was about.

  7. Thank you all for the personal and thoughtful responses. To be honest, I thought this post would be one of those that only I read. I'm glad it made so many of you think and look back in this way.


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