The Secret Diary of Red Five (aged 46 3/4)

As a world-class daydreamer, I spend a lot of time pondering true callings.

As a youngster I wanted to be a pilot. Specifically, I wanted to fly Incom Corporation T-65 Starfighters. Even more specifically, I wanted the hallowed ‘Red Five’ callsign. Accepting that Star Wars wasn’t real took me a long time and I have a sneaking suspicion that on some level, I never really have.

I did actually apply to join the Royal Air Force when I left school. I sailed through the aptitude tests and failed the medical – for being underweight (I remember once around that time exasperating a shop assistant because she couldn’t find any jeans in the shop with a 26″ waist. “Have you tried Mothercare!” she snapped. The 26″ waist is long gone – can I get an Amen for those days.).

Also around that time I discovered dance music. I remember hearing a real DJ beat-mixing records live for the first time and realising I couldn’t tell where one record started and another ended. From that point on, my true calling was to be a DJ. I bought a pair of Technics – the cheapest belt-drive decks I could afford – and a battery-powered two-channel mixer from Tandy. I already had a growing collection of vinyl records (I stopped counting once it eventually grew past 3,000 records) and blagged a gig in the bar where my sister worked. From that day, I worked continuously as a DJ for the next 18 years. I still make mixtapes using Ableton Live and if my numbers came up tonight, the first thing I’d buy would still be my own bar.*

Around my late twenties I started thinking seriously about what I wanted to do when I left school despite having actually left school a full decade earlier. After an excellent experience with the Open University, I decided to go back to University as a mature – sorry, as an older – student. I read Biblical Studies and for a long time, I thought I wanted to be an RE teacher. I still think it would be a fulfilling and stimulating career, but in the UK even convicted criminals get a better deal from the government than teachers. I couldn’t live on a teacher’s wage, but on the plus side I’d have so little free time that I wouldn’t need any disposable income.

And that brings me to this. This blog, this post, these words. I’ve always been interested in stories, in writing, in language, and in words and I’m sure I’m not the only blogger who’s convinced that they have a blockbusting novel  in them. The reason I finally decided to try and make a go of blogging here on TVFA1 is because I love writing, nothing more than that.

So that’s flying X-Wing fighters, joining the RAF, being a DJ, teaching RE, and writing for a living. When I started thinking about how many true callings I had, they were the first ones that came to mind (I did want to be a footballer too for a spell, and really it was only a severe grass allergy and a profound lack of talent that stopped me). And that made me wonder – do we have a true calling? To repurpose a cliche, is it not about what’s right for us, but what’s for right now? I think I’m going to keep writing for now, and see what happens in the future.


* I probably wouldn’t buy anything, I’d give all the money away. I always play the lottery with the LOST numbers; imagine winning a fortune and having that bad karma following you around. Look what happened to Hurley.