Leaving school with impressively mediocre A-levels, my wise choice of a wildly unpopular subject meant I got in anyway. Chinese. At the time, totally fucking useless in the job market. Explaining why they let me in.
Getting back to the theme. I'd best explain what my goals as a furry-faced school leaver were:
1. Not working
2. Becoming a writer.
I know, possibly contradictory aims. (I was going to say, well, writing is never work for me. But it has been. I've written things purely for the money. Might have had a bit of fun.)
While not working as a student, I got to play with writing in the Leeds Student magazine. Purely because my mate Pete was arts editor. Me, Tim and Matt all got to write pretentious reviews.
I had zero idea how to take this writing further.
Not working, however, wasn't just my attempt to be a writer. I saw it as a lifestyle. After a few early setbacks, I'm delighted how well it's succeeded.
In a time of high unemployment, try as I might, work kept coming my way. For a workshy git like me, a total disaster.
Then the jobs stop involving, er, work.
My record for sitting idle on my arse: 21 months. A nightmare really. In pre-internet days. What do you do? I wrote programs that might have been useful, without being asked. Just to make that clock tick a little faster.
So many other contracts with little or nothing to do. I wrote whole applications just to stop going crazy.
Then, to kill the boredom in a job with no work and no internet access, I wrote "Beer Ale and Malt Liquor". My rambling, incomplete manuscript on the history of UK beer 1700-1973. I did publish one chapter in what I think might be the longest post ever. The quarter of a million words. I've been using to remind of all the stuff I've forgotten.
How did my writing progress? A webpage and a blog. Thanks internet!
And thanks not working. For making me fulfill goal number two: becoming a writer.*
Can I stop now I've achieved all my goals? Maybe I should ask the kids.
* If you count one obscure commissioned book and a raft of amateurish, self-published word fests, withe more tables than the first class dining room of the Titanic