When I was 23

1993 thought me a few lessons – some of them easy and a few of them hard.

It was the first year that I feared the big bad world. If you’d spent the past 18 years in education the idea of doing work for a living was truly terrifying. the biggest fear was that you’d be found out as a total chancer and wouldn’t be able to stand on your own two feet.

I know it sounds trivial but I had never noticed the seasons before. If you’d spent the previous decade trying to loose your virginity and worrying about exams you never had any spare senses to stop and admire the greenness of May or the warmth of September.  As I have gotten older I’ve learned to live in the present and not worry about the future too much. The only thing I’ve ever had trouble with is wishing the next season to come along. In about 3 weeks I’ll be totally fed up with winter – just as the daffodils smile up at me and save me from myself. Then as they bore me it’ll be the smell of wild garlic on country runs in April.

My career as a subsidised student had hit the rocks early on in 1993. To be polite about it I had a difference of opinion with my supervising professor. From the feedback I was getting from other professors and older post grad students it was more a case of he was a prick and I was the asshole he wanted to violate. February 1993 was turning out to be as bad as February 1990. But then, as luck would have it, I got a job with the County Council as a ‘real’ engineer. Building roads.

This was serious. If you have visions of on-the-job mentoring and a a dedicated graduate induction programme you didn’t work for Cork County Council on road projects. If you’ve ever seen ‘Withnail & I’ there is a scene where ‘I’ is in the toilets and a giant Irish labourer calls him a perfumed ponce. Well, Imagine me, long hair and smiles, turning up to work in my shit brown escort and been given that sort of labourer as my worker for the day. There he is, sitting in my flamed escort, looking at me like I’m a perfumed ponce. And I’m supposed to be the one in charge.

If a learning curve can get any steeper than vertical then that was the curve I was on.

After a tough couple of weeks playing gimp to my labouring friend I soon learned to anaesthetise the pain of the early morning starts and the late evenings with the pay cheque. Money was the morphine to this sudden and shocking world of work. Like a kid in a sweet shop I spent (on shit that was of no use) like there was no tomorrow.

1993 was also the year of our first holiday as a couple. We went to the Greek Island of Rhodes and spent two weeks sleeping under the flight path of the main airport. I never did get the people who go on holidays to complain. We took the cockroach infested bathroom as a sign of a healthy local wildlife population and ecosystem.  I was happy to be waking up every morning to glorious sun, fried eggs in olive oil on freshly baked bread and a day of reading books and working on my skin cancer.  I can still remember amazingly minute details of that holiday (that I will spare you from) and it has become a characteristic of my life that I can remember every year based on the holiday I took. I also learned a valuable public service lesson that has stayed with me since that holiday:

A holiday is broken down into 3 constituent parts. There is the pre-annual leave (or the pre-holiday) – this is where you plan, commit, book, pay, research and buy shorts before you go. This anticipation is often the best part of the holiday (as the holiday can turn out to be shit). It also allows you to lower your productivity at work as you don’t want to be taking on any new commitments if your going foreign for a few weeks. This means that you can hang around and chat about fuck all instead of working flat out.

Then, after this you have the holiday itself – the midnight flight, the hangover, the sunburn, the dose of the runs, the renting of the moped, the running out of money, the countdown to the trip home to grey Ireland. And finally, you have the ‘post-annual leave’ where you are allowed to ‘ramp up’ your productivity over another 2 weeks. All in all you are on leave for at least 6 weeks. – Something they don’t tell you in the private sector there children.

The last big change that happened to me in 1993 was I was duped by my girlfriend. I stupidly believed that if I moved out from living with my first true love (mummy) I’d have to grow a second cock for all the sex action I would get. So, fool that I was, I bid farewell to my mother and moved in with a bunch of college friends.

Did you ever hear the saying: ‘Like a dog with 2 cocks’? It’s based on the fact that a dog can lick his own cock so the true definition of bliss would be to be a dog with 2 cocks.

I was like a dog with no cocks. On my own, in a house full of friends and about as much lady action as I was getting at home and now having to pay rent.

Still, a valuable life lesson. What the life lesson is  I don’t know and I don’t think I learned it then or have fully learned it now but still, a valuable lesson.

Tomorrow – 1994


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