The day reality hits and life is over
Three years is a long time but it goes very quickly.
I had chosen my college on the basis of the Roy Harper poster that had featured inside the door; I was now, three short years later, contemplating life in the future beyond education. It looked like a huge void.
There were a few pluses – I had managed to accrue 7 O Levels, 3 A Levels and two one year Ancillaries. Unfortunately none of the grades achieved were at all inspiring. I had done the barest minimum to get by. I had managed to exist on my meagre grant for three years, even managed to buy a lot of great vinyl, seen all the top bands, fallen in love with the most gorgeous young lady on the planet, and had an incredible time in London during the height of the sixties underground.
Three years of sex and drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll, subsidised by the State, were actually coming to an end. It was difficult to contemplate. For three years I had been free-wheelin’ with no commitments. I had been free to do what I wanted, met some incredible people, lived through an inordinate amount of wondrous experiences and contemplated the mysteries of life. It had been wild.
But in a matter of weeks that was coming to an end. There were no more grants to eke out. I was going to have to get money from somewhere in order to meet the bare necessities necessary for the body to operate. That meant working.
Unfortunately I was not talented in the areas that mattered. I could not play any musical instruments; I was not going to make a living out of art and had no other creative means of earning a living.
I decided to try writing. I had a lot to say. I had a wealth of experience to draw on; a tsunami of ideas to pour forth. I merely needed an audience. I was sure that once I had scribbled out my first amazing masterpiece of a book the publishers would be falling over themselves.
That turned out to be a little far from the reality I had imagined.
So in May 1971 I was contemplating what on earth I was going to do with the remainder of my sorry life.
The major hurdle was finals. I was far from certain that I was going to pass. I had hardly been the most diligent of students. The world was too full of exciting people, places and things to be stuck into learning about things I wasn’t interested in. Fortunately I loved Biology and had amazingly absorbed quite a lot of information. The bits I enjoyed I excelled at. The bits that did not grab me I ignored.
A career, even in my beloved Biology, sounded like a death sentence to me.
I decided that I would wait and see what the results of my finals were like before deciding. Miracles could happen. Things turned up.
I was viewing the end of my college days as the death of a dream. The other side was oblivion. My life was over.
Pete was heading off to the States. That sounded good to me. I managed to persuade Liz that this was a good move. Who knew what might unfurl? The world was full of opportunities. What could be better than three months travelling around America? We’d work our way round and then come back and head off to Africa or India.
It didn’t quite work out that way. But the idea was reasonable, if you saw it from the perspective of one who despised the strictures of society. I did, unbelievably, scrape through my finals. We had our three months in America and a further three years in London. It was a bit of life after death. But we did not get to Africa or India for quite a while to come.
The important thing was that we were still roaming freely and not tied down. Life was good.
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