When things don’t work out the way you want or hope thoughts usually drift into the ‘if only‘s’ – at the time and sometimes for a while, sometimes a long while afterwards. It’s always fruitless to think like that with disappointment and regret, but sometimes it’s interesting to ponder on what might have happened – not that we can ever know what twists of unimagined fate might have had in store for us.
I’ve written before about my ‘career’ as a swimmer – which had so much promise until a six week bout of glandular fever disrupted my training – and I mentioned that even if it hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have swum for my country as I just was not competitive enough – too good a loser! If I had gone to a different school after the age of eleven I would have had different friends, I may have taken different subjects – maybe I would have learned German as I so wanted. So it goes on, this choice took me on this path, where would that choice have taken me? This failure to achieve something led me somewhere, but if I had succeeded where would I be now? – or vice versa, supposing I had failed at something I actually did achieve? Friends I might have made, people I might have loved – or not loved, different choices, different opportunities throughout my life.
Supposing when I won a modest sum on the football pools (remember them?) enough to take me and my chums out for a lovely meal at the Beaujolais in Manchester, supposing I had won a fantastically huge sum? My first thought – after recovering from the shock, and probably taking my friends out to the Beaujolais even though I was rich because it was our favourite restaurant, my first thought would have been of my family. What could I do for my parents, and more importantly what could I have done for my sister who was seriously ill in hospital? I think I would have wanted to buy my own house… but wait a minute, that would have meant moving out from the place I lived with my friends, would I have wanted to do that? But if I had stayed, with that hefty bank balance, that surely would have changed things – wouldn’t it? If I had given up work then, how would I have spent my days? Even then I had dreams of becoming a writer, but I didn’t really, really practice my craft – I can imagine I would have sat in my beautiful work room in my beautiful house staring at my top of the range type writer, wondering what to do next.
Supposing when I was eighteen I had managed to maintain my relationship with a man we’d had a love-at-first-sight moment with? I think I would be living in a different country, probably very fluent in another language, my children would be much older and I would have grandchildren. Supposing when I was slightly older I had not become so close to someone who I should have realised would always be a friend and nothing more – would I have found a different partner, moved somewhere else, met different people had different friends, different family, different career, different life? Supposing when I was much much older and living on my own and the phone had rung and someone asked if I’d like to go for a beer I had made some excuse and said no? That I think would have been a disaster, and I would have been on my own for a long time, missed having a family, missed moving back to Somerset, and certainly not been sitting here, a glass of Otter beside me, writing this!