When I took my A-Levels, I unfortunately didn’t get the grades I needed to go away to the University I wanted (or indeed any university), I took English and Business Studies but for some strange reason I failed English (as did the majority of us from my school). We all revised really hard for it and should have passed with flying colours. The school even applied for a full remark but to no avail. So I had no choice but to to to the local college and try and get some more A-Levels so I could get into my chosen university the following year. I had started working at a local theatre as an usher in my spare time which was great fun – it was a fantastic environment to work in, meeting the odd famous person and working with some wonderful people. It’s probably the only job I’ve ever had where I couldn’t wait to turn up to work. During the day I would attend the local college where I had started a new English A-Level course and also Psychology A-Level as that was an interest of mine having endured a couple of terrible bouts of depression when I was at school, and having always been fascinated with the human mind.
A couple of months into the new courses, my old school got in touch and asked (begged) me to retake the English I had failed earlier in the year. The exam was scheduled for November. I didn’t want to take it as I was really busy with my new courses, and I had heard from my University that in order to get a place the following year, I needed to achieve a ‘C’ grade. Eventually I agreed to resit the exam, despite thinking it a waste of time and knowing that there was no way I was going to be able to put even a tenth of the revision in that I did the first time round. More to the point there was no way I was going to get a ‘C’ grade. In the end though, all but one of us from my old English class resat the exam. I remember sitting in the exam, furious with myself for letting myself be talked into it. I wrote some waffly old rubbish without the support of any quotations from the books, having not reread a single thing or done any revision. I filled in the vast gaps of knowledge with my own imagination… in other words I was just making it up as I went along. What a ridiculous waste of time. By December I had forgotten all about the resit and was busy hating my new English course. Psychology was at least keeping my interest.
I think it was January when the results of the resit came. By some miracle, I not only passed it, but I got a ‘C’ grade which meant I had my place secured for University the next year. I went straight into college and with great glee in my heart informed my English tutor that I would not be continuing her course. I decided to keep going with the Psychology for the time being while I worked out what I wanted to do for the next 9 months. As it turned out, I didn’t do anything particularly exciting during those months. I carried on with the Psychology, but as I didn’t need the A-Level didn’t really bother too hard with it – I did all the required course work and merely turned up to the exams (if I hadn’t turned up I would have had to pay for it). I somehow managed to pass with an ‘E’ grade despite having done no revision and again writing a load of old crap in the exam. I seemed to do better at A-Levels if I didn’t bother working for them. The only one I failed was the one I worked the hardest for originally.
During those 9 months I also continued to work at the theatre as much as possible. By then I was also helping out the lighting department when the shows changed over, which would involve an all-nighter on the Saturday night after the final show of the run. The theatre was a scary place to be in the dead of night which made it all the more fun. I really do have many, many happy memories from those days at the theatre.
For about 8 weeks in the summer leading up to my departure to University, I worked in a factory – 6 days a week, 12 hour shifts, a week of days (7am – 7pm) followed by a week of nights (7pm – 7am). It was hot, hard, physical work but it paid really well with all the overtime. It set me up financially for the year ahead and meant that I wasn’t going to be a financial strain on my parents. I actually worked there for 5 summers in a row – the final summer I worked there for 12 weeks – 11 of those weeks were nights – I did every bit of overtime I possibly could and earned a fortune (for a student).
When I left university in the December of 1992 to join the band, I moved down to London and spent the first 3 months living in a spare room at the guitarists house in East London that he shared with 2 other guys. Those months were spent trying to find a bass guitarist and a drummer, writing, arranging and recording demos on my old 4 track recorder. I then decided to find my own flat and found a flatshare just around the corner from the guitarists house, sharing with two nannies and a hairdresser. While I was there I signed myself off the dole and got a job at the guitarist’s brothers publishing company. The guitarists brother was also the manager of the band so there was no problem if I had to take time off or leave early because of the band. He also had a girlfriend who worked in the media who was to later give me my first job in the industry I still work in today.
While living with the 2 nannies and the hairdresser, we got two kittens from my Uncle & Aunt who lived nearby – they were struggling to find homes for the latest litter from their semi-stray cat who had adopted them. The nannies turned out to be rather psychotic and unbearable to live with, so after about a year or so in that flat, me and the hairdresser moved to a 2 bedroom place which had a garden for the cats. While there, the guitarist from my band started dating my hairdresser flatmate which was sometimes less than ideal for me. We got evicted from that house after 5 months because the landlord defaulted on the mortgage and lost the house. We moved to another flat in the same deeply grim area of North London where unfortunately one of the cats was run over and killed. After about 7 months in that flat, I was finally getting a bit sick of being a gooseberry in my own home, so made the announcement I was moving south of the river where some other friends of mine (from University) and also the drummer from the band lived. That was a good move.
I found a great one bed flat in a nice street in a really nice part of South London and my social life was great. I was there for about 3 years and during that time the band finally split having not achieved fame or fortune. It was a sad day but it had run its course. A few months after the split, the old drummer popped round for a coffee and started telling me about this other band he had joined… and mentioned they needed a keyboard player. I said that I didn’t want to go down that road again, but he played me a sketchy old demo they had made and of course I was hooked. A couple of days later I went along to meet the guys on the proviso that I wasn’t going to join the band. I did.
Another 3-4 years in this band ended the same way as the previous band – having come so very close to getting a record deal but never quite nailing it. So the last 7 years of my life had been spent gigging round London at all the medium sized venues, rehearsing, signing on and working the odd day here and there in the media. They were good days and I had a lot of fun, but ultimately it was rather soul destroying – all that time and effort and being broke the whole time, for nothing. So when the 2nd band ended that really was it for me. No more bands. No more gigging. I needed to work, earn some money and have a life!
By the time the 2nd band finished, I had moved to another flat in South London in a slightly less glamorous area nearby, and I was freelancing in the media a lot. I ended up getting a full time job which was great to start with but soon turned into a nightmare due to the boss and her right hand woman being utterly revolting to work for. It was a shame as I liked a lot of the people I worked with there. After that job I worked for another couple of small companies earning a pittance for a couple of years before deciding to try and get out of the industry and signing up to a temp agency and doing a variety of pretty dull jobs. I had also hooked back up with the lead singer & guitarist of the 2nd band and we decided to get together occasionally and record songs – no band this time – just recording. The guitarist soon decided to up sticks and move abroad leaving just the two of us. 13 years later I’m still recording with him.
The last temp job I had was for a FTSE 100 company working in the facilities department for the facilities director. He was about to offer me a full time position, when an old media contact got in touch and asked me to go and meet someone who had just started up the London office of an American media company. I ended up taking the job for the media company and am still here 8 and a half years later…. now desperate to leave and get out of the industry again. I want to find a job I can be proud of.
About 7 years ago I bought my first flat in SE London which I love. Last year my cat who had been with me since I first moved to London from College (the one whose brother got run over in North London), very sadly died at the grand old age of 17. I was heartbroken. She had been by my side for so long, and because I lived alone, she had been essential company for me. She made me happy. Losing her was a really terrible wrench.
I only managed to live without a cat in my life for about 2 months before I couldn’t bear it any longer and went and adopted 2 kittens from an animal shelter. They’re adorable.
Well, that in a nutshell, brings us up to date with where I am now.