Nostalgia can be a curse and to prove it I’ve created a list of five times in my life that I made a decision I’ve always slightly regretted. I’m calling it ‘My Five Biggest Regrets’ but the title is a bit misleading. Creating a list like this is a really important thing to do and if you’re going to get it right then you have to be constructive and try to determine whether in all probability you’re either right or wrong in each case. What do YOU regret? It’s a killer question. If the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions, then I strongly suspect that the Path to Dissatisfaction is paved with overly nostalgic memories, especially ones involving missed opportunities. If you’re autistic, an overthinker or even just an unusually reflective person, then the retrospective analysis is probably a huge part of your mental landscape. In simple terms, retrospective analysis is where you overplay conversations in your head after the event, often applying your own biased narrative to anything that was said. What you end up coming out with can potentially do catastrophic damage to friendships and relationships or even destroy them completely. It’s a curse of a burden to bear, which is why I find movies like ’13 Going on 30′ so incredibly difficult to watch.
When my writing career didn’t explode like I wanted it to (that wouldn’t happen for another two years), I headed into Ramsgate town to see what work was available. My extraordinary collection of GCSEs and one-week show-ups at Thanet College afforded me the following tree of opportunity….
“Ah, there you are boys. This isn’t a great start, is it? “What time did I tell you?” I look blankly at my best friend but he doesn’t have a watch on either. “Er….nine o’clock?” “I said eight fifty-five, actually.” “I think it IS eight fifty-five.” “Not on my watch.”
The picture for this post is very deceiving, because at first glance it appears that I’m totally spanking the five or six plebs still standing on the starting line behind me. In actual fact, those boys are waiting to START the next race….and they’ve been waiting a while. Sports Day at my primary school was usually a competitive event, but most of the bets between the parents focused mainly on whether David Stone would hold up the next race by more or less than ten minutes.
It’s October 1989 and I’m in my second month at St. George’s School on Westwood Road in Broadstairs. I haven’t been beaten up or bullied yet and the entire secondary school experience is still relatively new and exciting. There are so many amazing bikes, so many new potential friends and so many GIRLS….but I’m not interested in racing bikes, making new friends OR asking out girls (which is very fortunate as I’m going to turn out to be TERRIBLE at those things).
It would be easy to say that I don’t like cats and cats don’t like me but it’s just nowhere near as simple as that. The war between the cat kingdom and myself began – as many things do – in a pub.
When I was growing up, I had a lot of ‘Uncles’. Now, I’m not saying my mum slept around: she didn’t (as far as I know), but our house was always full of people who liked to drink….often at the expense of a new suit. I’m not blaming them: I like to drink, too….but I tend to stop if I begin to fill my trousers before I can get to the toilet.
The regression therapist leans across the couch, looks at me and says: ‘So let me get this straight, David, you’re ten years old and there’s this girl you really like…but she doesn’t like you because you don’t have the right BMX bike.’
‘Okay….so, despite the fact that you were – by your own admission – awkward, didn’t like making eye contact, regularly ran away from girls, often wet yourself at school and occasionally even fainted in front of them, it was definitely the BIKE she didn’t like.’
I glare at him. ‘Are you saying it WASN’T the bike?’
My worst school memory was the day I first felt really different to other kids. The teacher asked a question that probably wouldn’t be asked these days: she asked what everyone’s dad did for a living. I didn’t have a dad but not everyone in the class knew that and so, as the answers were given and it came closer and closer to my turn, I got more and more anxious about whether or not to lie and just say he was a fireman or a policeman or something the other kids would be impressed by. In fact, I needn’t have worried: I wet myself before my turn – probably out of sheer panic – so I ended up embarrassed for a completely different reason.