On Your Way Son
It’s a time of wonderful transition in anyone’s life. High school exams a recent memory, a feeling of euphoric relief washing over a never before felt trepidation as we stand on the edge of the daunting void, the unknown entity that is the future.
For me, the time came in 1997. Facing my future alone for the first time in my life. No school friend sense of solidarity, nobody to tell me what to do. Just me and a headful of well-meaning advice.
“It’s what we call independence,” my Father would say. He should know. He left school at 14, started work the day after. Followed his own burning ambition to the UK and climbed his own personal career path right to the top, plaudits and media glare never far behind. A tough act to follow? You can sing it.
His standards were high, but he was supportive in every way. University wasn’t for me. My education was important to me, but the avenue would have to change. And anyway I was 17, it was 1997, my self-perceptions were built upon the foundations of the trendy, north of England Britpop swagger, the outward confidence inspired by an Oasis-led working class revolution, and I wanted cash in my pocket.
My confidence was purely outward. This was a colossal transition – far too big for self-assurance. I was inwardly uncertain bordering on nervous as I applied for what I described as my dream position. An apprenticeship in graphic design. My teenage brain said “yeah. This is cool, arty. I could do this!”
Dressing formally for an interview at 17 years of age only adds to the nerves. That feeling of buttoning the shirt all the way to the top, before stifling yourself with a tie. My heart was pounding as my father ran his mock interview questions by me in the car. In reality he wasn’t helping, only adding to the overwhelming sense of foreboding as our destination limbered into view. We stopped outside the entrance and my Dad left the engine running. I guess I was somehow expecting him to lead me in and do the talking for me. For the first time that day my Father looked me in the eye. “Well, are you ready?” His smile was reassuring, he was good at that. “Just be yourself, be natural. I’ll be waiting for you when you come out, we’ll get lunch, my treat.” I smiled and nodded. “Go on then” he said, “on your way son.” That was his line when he trusted me.
I paused before I entered, facing nothing more than a mere prospect. I was genuinely scared as I pulled the glass door open, my CV providing an unlikely comfort screen as I took my seat in reception. For the first time in my life I could actually see my heart beat – my shirt pulsing as I sat waiting. I glanced up at the wall mounted clock. I comforted myself with the fact that when the big hand got all the way around I’d be outta there. Childish but reassuring at a moment when I needed something.
“Five minutes!” The gruff female voice punctured the calm air and startled me from my semi-daydream. “Sorry?” I replied. “Gerry will be with you in five minutes love!”
I had heard of Gerry Davitt. He was one of those entrepreneurial brain boxes with a hand in everything. He was a businessman – a name.
I glanced at the array of awards and plaques decorating the walls with no idea what they represented. It was a rather unassuming place, dusty blinds allowed shards of September sun to emanate from the window over which they hung. There was a radio playing somewhere behind the receptionist’s desk, a tin-like muffled sound which provided more irritation than entertainment. The volume was low enough to allow the dull ticking of the clock to filter through. It carried a soothing charm and unlikely source of temporary escape.
“Now then, you must be Craig.” I looked up alarmed. How did I not hear him approaching? Not a sound. No door opening, no footsteps – nothing! I stood and offered my hand. “Thanks for coming, I’m Gerry” he smiled. “Sorry for keeping you waiting.” The Yorkshire accent when spoken with the correct tone is wonderfully warm and welcoming, as was his handshake. Continue reading “On Your Way Son” »