Like many kids I dreamed of being a pop singer when I was younger but despite a reasonable good ear, a tuned voice and the ability to sing along to songs I didn’t know, I was never discovered probably because nobody expect the dogs saw me perform (well it can’t have helped). Later as my academic ability became more obvious I aimed high by planning to be an accountant. My mother loved this idea (accountants made good money) and went around seemingly telling everybody what I was going to do when I left school. Unfortunately for my mother I went to a College for Further Education at sixteen and mixed with a much wider group of people which included people that were planning to go to university.
“Andrew so-and-so (the brightest kid in the college apparently) is applying for Cambridge”, I was told which turned out he needed A* grades. There was a grade above A I knew about nothing about. “Why would you want to go somewhere full of posh people with loads of money to waste”, I thought (parental influence?). It turned out there were other universities than Oxford and Cambridge. I knew about them because of the annual boat race on the Thames was televised. What was this university thing I asked? Well I didn’t ask it because I didn’t want to look stupid so I investigated in the college library instead.
It turned out accountancy was really boring and university was fun, at least that was the general feeling among those in the know. Fun wasn’t something that I focused on as it seemed to elude me, but further studying sounded good and to cap it all I could live away from home. Looking back I can only really remember the moving out of the parental home as being the main driver for going to university. I knew for my own sanity that I needed to escape the environment that I grew up in, I needed to discover myself somehow and I knew that wasn’t going to happen at home.
This week my wife and I went to see our accountant for our business to go over the last year’s figures. It is not a big company, we have four part-time people working for us which equates to two full-time posts and the front-line work is shared out between my partner and a number of sub-contractors. I’m the backroom boy that amongst other things looks after the computers and the finance. I knew we had had a good year financially (though it had been really tough on my wife) but couldn’t really believe it until our accountant spelt it out for us. Leaving the office after the meeting my wife said we should celebrate which I agreed with though we didn’t really know how.
Celebrating is a tough one for me because I just don’t feel any joy about our success but logically I know it is a good thing to celebrate and so I go through the motions. I don’t think our ideas of celebrating are normal though. My wife thought we could buy some art and I suggested a sculpture by an artist I had seen in Edinburgh (which reminds me I haven’t done anything about that). I know what you are thinking (okay I pretending here again), woh guys, don’t get too carried away here, ya know that might be pushing the boundaries a bit too far. Are you sure you want to buy some art, riské or what? Perhaps we could go out for a coffee and cake I suggested. No, maybe a drink later.
We were going to see some old friends of ours in the evening for pancakes (it was Shrove Tuesday) so I suggested taking some Champagne around (well it was fizzy chardonnay) and we did. When I was a kid, pancakes on Shrove Tuesday was about having pancakes as a special pudding with lemon juice and sugar sprinkled on them. We have graduated since those days. Pancakes now form the basis with many combinations of fillings: various cheeses, hams, salamis, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber topped off with chutneys, mustard or other dressings. Then we move onto the dessert pancakes which include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, ice cream and topped off again with sweet sauces (chocolate, passionfruit coulis, maple syrup). Basically it is a feast where we eat too much, drink in the middle of the week and having a good catch up. It was a good evening.
When we were back home I looked back through the day. One of the things that struck me was back in the accountant’s office. After the financial stuff we chatted a bit about our children and what they were doing or planned to do. The subject reached our child who faced the future not really knowing what to do. I had wondered whether accountancy might be a good fit for them because they like rules, regulations and are not particularly people confident. It was only back home that I remembered my own desire to be an accountant once. The reasons I thought it might be a good fit for my kid could have been exactly applied to me as well. Did I turn my back on an appropriate job for myself because of something more glamorous?
Well I don’t think one can say computing is glamorous, so maybe not, but knowing what I know about myself now I don’t think it would have been such a bad choice. It is not creative I grant you (at least it wouldn’t be in my hands) but one could built a solid life on accountancy assuming there were boundaries in place (timewise) so that I could be creative outside it. I will let my child make up their own minds though and hopefully I won’t explode like my mother did when they change their plans and end up doing the opposite to what I expect.