I learned a valuable lesson about myself, and other people, recently, knowledge that made me grateful for the luck I have in meeting so many different folk, in all walks of life, because of my job.
On a typical day I’ll encounter family, friends, radio colleagues, clients I’m coaching, staff at the newspaper I write for, strangers, shopkeepers, gym buddies, workmen, and I learn from them all.
Time has flown recently, a sure sign that I’m busy and getting older, and it’s not the police officers who look young now, it’s their grandkids too. Days start in a frenzy and end at all sorts of strange hours, the bits in between sometimes a complete blur. I haven’t had a day off in months. “It’s all your own silly fault,” you say, and I’ll admit I say Yes too often.
One day last week I started a radio show at 7am in London, finished at 10am and then drove for seventy minutes to Reading for another three hours of radio show, then got stuck on the M25 for almost four hours before arriving home, grabbing a chicken wing, and then driving in to BBC London to do another three hour show till 1am. I came home dizzy, knackered and incoherent, and wrote my newspaper column till 3am. I fell in to bed, and did the same all over again the following day. Mad.
I’m daft. Stupid. Bonkers. Idiotic. Or am I? My weekends have disappeared in a flurry of driving to and from work, my Friday and Saturday evenings a grateful rush of takeaway. Fresh air has become a stranger, a pale and emaciated look a friend. I’m beginning to resemble one of the Addams family, and not the good looking one.
Sitting on my own eating peanuts in my car while waiting for lorries to move even an inch on motorway lines that stretch ahead of me for miles, I’ve had ample time to think about why I get myself in to these positions.
Well, it’s not what I thought it might be. I supposed it could be for the love of money, but it’s not that because I was brought up not to spend what I don’t have so I’m not in debt. Then I assumed it may be that as a freelancer I’m worried that every job will be my last. But it’s not that either. I’m confident enough that if all my work fell through tomorrow I have enough life skills to get a job doing something else. I’m not stuck in a company clawing my way up the ladder by stamping on others and sucking up to my boss. I don’t even have a boss.
No. The reason I work hard is that I like people and I get bored so, so easily on my own. I cannot sit still, cannot chill, always have to improve my knowledge or skills. I’m greedy for new ideas, for life tips, for improvement. Every time I step out of the door is an adventure, a potential lesson in life, meeting new faces almost every day, being fascinated by stories and experiences. Getting to know people a lot better. Sharing in their lives, their joy and sadness.
Two weeks ago I had a really early rise (3.30am) and I drove to work wishing I could still be tucked up in dreamland like everyone else. I warmed up as I went through the show I was presenting, and then was pleased to see a regular contributor who joins me each week in the studio. We chatted afterwards, and I asked him what he remembered of his school teachers. Bear in mind I have known this man for years, see him weekly, and thought I knew everything there was to know.
“What do I remember about my school teacher? Not much really. Apart from the fact that the year after I left school I had a threesome with him and his wife.”
The tea I was drinking shot from my mouth as I became helpless with laughter, tears in my eyes, speechless. It brightened my day and gave me a whole new perspective on my friend. That kind of thing is priceless, and you don’t get that sitting at home doing nothing, do you?
I think I’ll stay a workaholic. You get more laughs that way.