I HAD a number of ambitions growing up that I kept to myself due to an entirely justified fear of failure.
It quickly became clear I wasn’t cut out to be a professional footballer or cricketer, though I saved countless penalties and scored enough hat-tricks and centuries in my dreams to play internationally at both sports (a modern-day version would be someone winning the league in Football Manager and thinking you were Pep Guardiola).
In my teens I got into music — too much into it. I spent every penny I had (except for the 30p or so I splashed on my Roy of the Rovers comic — yes in my (early!) teens) on buying music or reading about it.
Then on moving down to Devon I met a couple of like-minded deluded people and attempted to learn the guitar. Unfortunately I was somewhat lacking in talent or application and, despite “mastering” four or five chords, our band failed to take off — thus the world was deprived of the classics that were Celebrity Stalker and Valentine’s Day Mascara (lyrics Mosley, music Durham, Higgins).
At one point we did manage to drunkenly persuade the owner of Exeter’s Cavern Club to book us in for a gig. We cancelled that on sobering up but importantly managed to get some t-shirts made ahead of the no-show. Quite good they were too.
That dream gone I quite fancied politics, but again lacked the dedication needed to make it to Parliament. Or even on to a parish council, if I’m honest.
I did get to write about football and cricket though and I also got to write about music and politics, attending probably 1,000 gigs and interviewing the likes of Chris Martin, Matt Bellamy, Simon Le Bon, Tony Blair and — almost — Michael Jackson, but that’s another story.
In a way journalism allows you to at least meet those who have made it in those fields and hang out on the edges of the professions you aspired towards without attaining the fame or the money.
Is that a good thing? I’m not entirely sure. Sometimes I have enjoyed the fact that working on newspapers enables your life to collide, however briefly, with those people you have watched on TV, on a stage or a football pitch and who, in reality, have existences that are poles apart. Other times I have felt something of a failure, jealous even.
After all, they had the talent, the tenacity, the luck maybe, to succeed, whereas I didn’t.
As you get older your ambitions narrow. They have to. Even if I was any good at sport I couldn’t be a professional these days — darts, maybe?
I have done the London Marathon and aged ten could have dreamed of winning it, but by the time I was fit enough that ambition had crossed the line 90 minutes ahead of me and now would be even further in front. The dream there changed to simply getting around the course alive.
Life is a thing that dreams are made of and, for most of us, they have to stay just that. Dreams.