22 June 2006


A life filled with regrets would be the shadow of a life, hemmed in by self-doubt, fruitless longing and if-only’s. And yet as we grow older and look back upon youth, from time to time we may consider how different things might have been. How might we have done it differently if the tape of one’s life could be rewound? I guess that what I am leading to is another “meme”. If I could have my time again…
1. I’d have played rugby through university. I was naturally good at rugby. I represented Hull and East Yorkshire from the age of thirteen through to eighteen and yet at university I scorned the rugby club crowd. I was stupidly cooler than them and I neglected this sporting talent till it was far too late.
2. I would have never smoked tobacco. I didn’t start until I was twenty one and I smoked until I was thirty four – twenty a day. What a waste of money and breath! Now I actively hate the foul aroma of stale tobacco and I’m 100% behind any moves that are made to drive this horrible habit into extinction.
3. At the age of twelve/thirteen I would plonk myself next to the beautiful Susan Hawkins on the schoolbus into Hull and I’d tell her how I felt about her and how I’d love to kiss her pouting lips and be her first boyfriend instead of suffering like a fool month after month, tongue-tied and utterly self-conscious.
4. When my left testicle started to enlarge at the age of twenty, I’d have gone straight to a doctor for a diagnosis instead of spending a year fretting and hoping it would go away and feeling like a condemned man. It turned out to be a “hydrocele” – a benign and watery growth that was easily removed via minor surgery. How stupid I was.
5. I’d practise more often and more determinedly to improve my guitar playing and I’d have written songs all the time, never leaving my guitar hanging on a hook or shut up in a wardrobe gathering dust for months on end. I’d nourish this talent and help it to grow.
6. When at two thirty a.m. some time in 1975, the lovely Kate Thompson invited me to run west with her across the open fields until the morning came, I would run with her for the hell of it and because she loved me and through running with her I know in my heart we would have found something out there but instead I declined and rolled over.
7. I wouldn’t have fallen asleep at the Isle of Wight Festival, missing The Doors entirely. I still can’t believe that that happened but in my defence I was extremely tired – I’d been grooving to the music for forty eight hours solid – Hendrix, Leonard Cohen, Free, Jethro Tull, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Donovan – amazing!


8. I wouldn’t have trained to be a teacher. Instead I’d have tried to forge a career in advertising where I think I’d have not only been successful but I’d have a found a great outlet for some of my creative energies. Teaching can be so stifling. You’re giving out all the time and working with children impacts upon the way you are with other adults,. Over the years, I have grown to detest rudeness, ingratitude and idleness and the humdrum conveyor belt-like nature of the school year. And I hate all the “experts” and politicians and gravy train passengers who attach themselves to education like monstrous barnacles on the hull of a great ship.
9. I’d have dodged the cricket ball that smashed my front teeth at the age of fourteen and took away the confidence from my smile – perhaps impacting on the way some people have assessed me over the years, maybe even having a negative effect upon my so-called “career”. Good smiles are precious – they leave positive first impressions.
10. I’d have more of the state of mind that I have now – stronger, more “at peace” with myself, more battle-hardened, more aware of my virtues, less inclined to bother what anybody else might think of me, relishing simple things like the rising of the moon and the Friday night curry. And maybe I’d have emigrated to America where I have always felt so much “at home”.


  1. you forgot the one about picking more daisies. Seriously though, I would say that reading that list of sports, music, women and getting an education I would say if i had my time again I'd ask for a life half as interesting and with half the talents of that bloke from sheffield whose blog I read from time to time and I would have thought that would have been a pretty good life

  2. But if you had continued to play rugby, you'd probably be suffering from back problems now. :)
    As regards teaching, the best thing I ever did was take a year out - it rekindled an enthusiasm which had been badly eroded over the years of constant politically-driven change. Every teacher should have the opportunity of a sabbatical year before they get burnt out.

  3. I don't have too many regrets, but I would like to go back in time and whisper (yea, yell) a few things in the ears of my younger self:

    1)Instead of working at tedious government summer jobs, bite the bullet and go to summer-school to learn algebra and geometry properly.

    2)Take beginning guitar lessons in high school.

    3)Don't have sex with that guy. Really. Just don't.

    4)You're skinny enough, and anyone who says otherwise can go kick him (or her)self in the head.

    5)Cut your hair NOW instead of getting up early in the morning to curl it. You'll be so much happier with short hair. Trust me.

    6)Forget about writing a novel. Just write the stories you love to read.

  4. I'd have gone to college earlier in life instead of in my 40's.
    I'd have had my children younger and had a couple more.

  5. Ah, this is a lovely meme. I've often wondered about what I'd change...but I always come up with this: I learned from every experience, even the bad ones. I'm not sure I'd change much and I'd definately NEVER want to be a teenager, again. If there was anything I could change, though, I would have liked to have been a teenager in the 70's rather than the 80's. The music was better, the life was much simpler, I'd make one hell of a hippy and I would have burned my bra! Smile, York. Teeth or no teeth, you are who you are, no matter what is or isn't there. We certainly all love you, flaws and all. Have you any flaws??

  6. If I had it to do over again, I'd have left my first husband after ten years together, tracked down my current husband, seduced him and hopefully married him, bought that condo on Hayes street before the highway was torn down and the neighborhood went upscale, and dumped all the stock in that %(@%*&! telecom company while it was still at $95 a share rather than waiting until the Feds arrested its CEO.

  7. And the most important thing of all: never reget the past, learn maybe and move on. But never think what might have been. That's a surefire way to fuck your head up, and starting out on the road to the funny farm!


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