Tuesday 1st August
John Lennon recorded a song on an album of unfinished stuff released shortly after he died called ‘Nobody Told Me.’ And that is just how I feel sometimes. Nobody told me. They teach you all sorts of stuff at school, most of it to enable you to hold down a job of some sort or other – but very little is about how to live your life. And since Universal Education even parents have abnegated that responsibility to the school system. So, what are the things that nobody told me…
Nobody told me how tough it would be.
Nobody told me how to get a National Insurance number; when I started work and didn’t have one, they said my school should have told me how to apply for one.
Nobody told me how to respect women. As young men, we just wanted to have sex and bugger the consequences; there was never any attempt to educate us about contraception, or on a more basic level that women actually had choice, that they mattered at least as much as your lust. You just pushed and pushed until they gave in or chucked you.
Nobody told me there were Gay people out there, or that they were just as valid as me. Nobody told me that Love was Universal, regardless of gender.
Nobody told me that people of a different colour were just the same as us. Nobody told me that they deserved our respect, not our prejudices.
Nobody told me how to handle a relationship, how hard it is to live with someone else – and I am still learning. How to keep another person, let alone yourself happy.
Nobody told me how to look after a baby. You had to learn on the job. Trial and error. I don’t remember any self-help books about bringing up children, you sort of did what your parents did with you – and made the same mistakes too.
Nobody told me how to deal with a break-up, how to keep yourself going through the turmoil of your wife leaving with another man. Nobody ever tells you how hard that is. How to even get to sleep at night, how to stop re-playing the arguments, the vicious words hurled at each other, the despair and desolation of coming home to an empty home.
Nobody told me how hard work would be. How monotonous, how long the hours, how tedious the tasks, how boring it would all become.
Nobody told me how long it takes for oil paint to dry, how hard to meld the tones into each other without smudging them. How hard it is to get the paint to resemble even a fraction of your intentions.
Nobody told me how to let go of your children, how to let them go out into the big bad world; how to accept that they are adults in their own right.
Nobody told me how if life begins at forty, then why did I feel like I had died.
Nobody told me how tired you would get. Tired of life even sometimes.
Nobody told me how to deal with depression. They keep telling you to ‘buck up’, to ‘get over it’. If you only knew what it was it might help. The sheer misery of knowing you are miserable and not knowing why.
Nobody told me how hard it would be to get a story published. How hard it would be to actually complete it, to keep going when the plot seemed lost, how to be honest in your writing, how to believe in yourself, how to handle the constant rejections.
Nobody told me how to deal with illness, your own and that of others. How to be sympathetic, how to be empathetic, how to care when you feel awful yourself.
Nobody told me how to deal with getting older, the aches and pains, with the simple weariness of being.
No. They taught me lots of stuff at school. Some of it useful – reading and writing and Maths and a grounding in History and Geography, and an interest in Literature. But two years of Latin? Chemistry? Algebra? Logarithms?
What they should have taught us was how to be decent people, how to avoid the pitfalls in life, how not to be so greedy, how to care for each other. And what love was all about. Nobody ever tells you about that.