When family friends asked what I was doing these days when I disappeared after my A-Levels, my father would reply, “He’s in Cambridge,” and leave it at that. A few years later, to concerned relatives he would say, “He’s working off Berkeley Square now.”
To the uninitiated, it was almost as if I was a highflier like my siblings. Once an Oxbridge graduate, then one of Mayfair’s top investment bankers. Ah, but no.
As an A-Level student I had zero self-confidence and such appalling low self-esteem that I had not bothered applying for university. I became a bit of a drifter instead. After a summer spent writing a truly awful screenplay, I got a temporary job testing software at Cambridge Science Park for a few months. Hence, “He’s in Cambridge.”
In the end, I did apply for university and got a place in London. But on graduation, I was never destined to become a city type, entering a graduate job. Again, low self-esteem. I worked for a while for a consulting company in Maidenhead, until I was made redundant due to a recession. After that I freelanced on a few publishing jobs here and there for too many years, bringing in a paltry wage, until I finally landed that job in the heart of aristocratic Mayfair. Yes, selling pasta and curry to hungry bankers every lunchtime.
I occasionally envy the high fliers — friends and siblings amongst them. But these days, I would say, I am doing fine. It took a long time to get here, but I’m content, happy with the career that found me, enjoying the flexibility it brings, living in my little house on a hill. I think I have finally found my groove.