CVs are strange things, a two-page summary of everything you ever did? Doesn’t tell you jack, just years, titles, brand names, collations of letters passing for education and training. They’re incredibly abstract. Not that you’d seriously expect to learn much from a CV, but they don’t really say anything of the highs and Hells of what actually goes on in work, in life. And of course the writer of the CV edits what’s in it. I remember coming across a pile of spent CVs when I worked at Heren Energy (I know, one would think such kinds of what is essentially a professional, semi-confidential document shouldn’t be left lying around, but hey ho, easy come, easy go), and found a CV from a former colleague at a former employ. And on paper, he was the biz, very much so, very impressive, a shoo in. I knew however he was beyond crazed, such that when he’d been given notice at his former job, they ended up paying him to leave early and changed the door code the second he left the building, while Quasimodo spat his way across the road, P45 in hand, into the work’s pub to get smashed and corner any ex-colls fool enough to wander in there after 5pm … I contacted my former firm and said what a coincidence, and they said they’d be giving him the highest recommendation to come work for us, which I replied they had better not or it would be received as a hostile act.

I’ve been working since 1995, or since before if you count working in McDonalds, working for a psychotic chemist, or selling house portraits on commission. So I’ve got 20 years in the tank, and, I’d hope, at least 30 years to go, if not more, as the age limit for retirement seem to be ever shifting up. Well, good, I don’t want to have to retire, and skills-based industries surely should value their elders? Then again one might not want to be worked to death …

But to get to the end and look back and think not of the highs but of the Hells, not of the what was, but the what ifs. You could torture yourself for so long and only then, at the end, at that late hour, would you realise all that time lost regretting the time lost.

An obituary is like a finalised CV, one you can’t prune and edit yourself … what would be in your obituary?

‘In fits of morbid narcissism he’d wonder aloud what his obituary might say …’


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