I was thinking of going out tonight, with the family, maybe to a chain-restaurant of some kind. Maybe a Pizza place or an Italian – You know the sort of thing? I was even going to go to the extent of searching GroupOn for a voucher, so that I can look all ‘Devil may care’ and extravagant in front of my family.
But then I thought, “Maybe not…” You know why I thought that? Well, yes, a lot of it had to do with the fact that I am as tight as a Moorhen’s special private area. Mostly though it was be because they’ll all probably be full of people who’ve just received their ‘A’ level results. I’m not going to discriminate between those who’ve passed or failed… I find people who’ve been given their first slurp of Asti Spumanti (and being told it’s Champagne) because they’ve got the results they need to go on and Study Marine Biology at Sheffield just as annoying as those that randomly cry into their Sloppy Giuseppe’s because their “Three Fs and a U” won’t get them into Norwich to do ‘Gender tropes in Black and White adverts from the 1970s and their impact on the theories of crop rotation.’
I’m not saying that having aspirations is bad, I’m not saying that the years and frankly obscene amounts of money that you will spend at University are a waste… They’re a valuable and enjoyable part of becoming a useful member of the human race. If you want to be a scientist or a doctor or a teacher or… erm… something else academic that I can’t be bothered to think of at the moment, you won’t be able to do that with at least one Degree in some pertinent subject. My dear Brother is a product of the British Higher Educational system, and he has now retired early and abandoned England to set up home inside a hollowed-out volcano in the middle of the Mediterranean (So maybe that wasn’t a 100% great example, but you get the drift)
“But Dandy,” I hear you shout, “I’m reliably informed that you have a degree, and that makes you a hypocrite!” – Well, yes I have, but I didn’t get it straight out of school. I went away and had a bit of a life, gained a little experience and decided what would really be of use to me at a later date. Turns out that I was completely wrong and it didn’t do me any real good that I could put my finger on. It might have done I suppose, if things had turned out differently – But you know, they didn’t… My life turned out like my life… Your life will probably turn out like your life – I’m so sure of that, that I’ll buy you a pony if it doesn’t.
I suppose what I’m really trying to say is that, to my knowledge, no-one has ever died because they haven’t gone to the University that they wanted to (I guess some people might have died because they didn’t get into the Universities their parents wanted them to get into – But probably only in the more medieval themed Asian countries) You’re just as likely to have a great life if you go straight from Sixth Form to a job in retail or *gulp* service industries and then sort yourself out later – No-one needs to know the ins and outs of the mating cycle of a nudibranch to be happy (Unless their surname is Cousteau)
You don’t need to get all of your ‘Learnin’ done in one big splat – (Please note, I’m not advocating a gap year… If you take a gap year, one of three things will happen:)
1: You will spend it on the sofa, in your pants, watching Spongebob
2: You will become a social pariah, known by all around you as the one who starts every story with “Oh, yah! When I was on my gap year in Bali, we…”
3: You will be murdered – I Sh*t you not, read the news – it happens more than you think. You will be alone, and frightened and no-one can help you… Just don’t do it kids
So, none of this is important enough for you to lock yourself in your room and cry over, none of it is important enough for you to have to issue ‘A cry for help’ over (If you know what I mean) – Everything’s going to be OK, really, believe me, I’ve lived through it.
And as I used to do, I’ll illustrate this point with a story from the good old days. It’s about the part of my life that took place after I left school and didn’t go to University.
This was me in the mid-1980s – I know, I looked like the bastard son of Queen’s Brian May and a pipe-cleaner. But I’d found myself a girlfriend who I just assumed was a bad judge of character at the time – She wised up a few years later though…
We’d gone on a pub-crawl – Now, I’m guessing every town has a ‘Golden Mile’, a row of pubs of indeterminate length that are close enough to each other to enable you to move from one to the other without getting tired if you’re young and not used to wearing high-heels, and that’s where we were. I’d arranged to meet her in the first pub, because I had no transport and we lived at opposite ends of the town (Plus we were still pretty much at the awkwardly holding hands stage) – So, when she walked through the door with two of her seventeen year old friends (Please note, I was also seventeen, this isn’t my ‘Oh yes, I was a paedophile’ story – Wait, no! – I don’t actually have an ‘Oh yes, I was a paedophile’ story - Have you ever wished you hadn’t started something?)
Anywho… So, we’ve got several, very slightly underage people in a pub, in the days before people started demanding ID, who were all clustered around a table thinking how sophisticated we were for drinking half-pints of imported lager. The teenage boys were having impure thoughts about the teenage girls – The teenage girls were… Well, if I’m honest… I’m not sure what the teenage girls were thinking – Still don’t as it happens. The night progressed pretty much as you’d expect – there was giggling and a few pretty half-hearted slaps as hands were suddenly found to be in inappropriate places. Until the young ladies decided that it was time that they made their way home. I offered to accompany them (to the other side of town remember) because I was a gentleman, and not because there were many dark alleys between where we were and where we needed to be.
There were two incidents during the trip that stick in my mind. (Well, there were three, but I’m only going to tell you about two of them)
The first was when we were walking down the street. I had done my best to put my arms simultaneously around all three young ladies, with varying degrees of success, when I noticed a couple coming towards us – Being a gentleman, I reluctantly broke up our ‘menage a’ quatre’ so that they could get past…
The gentleman remarked to his girlfriend, ‘Why has he got three and I’ve only got you?’
Her reply was a slap across the face so resounding that I very briefly saw his face do a complete circuit of his head before he started to sob uncontrollably and apologise.
The second involved a bridge spanning a dual-carriageway, and explains the title of this post (Which is the only reason that you’re reading this right? Be honest) – My seventeen year old then-girlfriend leant over and whispered ‘I’m wearing stockings and suspenders.’ to me. Of course, I responded in the only way open to someone who had received such a revelation,
‘Prove it,’ I said, not believing her for a second.
So, she raised the hem of her skirt to her chin and did just that.
Her two friends turned around at this time and witnessed the act just perpetrated… Then fuelled by strong lager and a lack of passers-by, proceeded to prove that they were similarly equipped themselves – It is here that the 70’s guitar music would have started if this had been a fuzzy VHS video that you’d found in your Dad’s sock drawer.
What happened instead is that we climbed the steps up to the top of the bridge (I stayed ten or so steps behind the girls, because I was still seventeen myself and full of hormones) and I watched the three teenage girls flash their underwear at passing trucks and taxis for a (very) good five minutes.
Then we went for a Chinese at my girlfriend’s house and I got a taxi home, where I couldn’t sleep on my front for about an hour. (The walls at my Dad’s house were very thin.)