I’d like to teach the world to sing


A random list of stuff I’d like to do, see or experience – because it’s not as if I’m going to be able to afford a house or car in the near future

I’ve been pondering a moany post about how the system has conspired to make it harder for many of us to afford the lifestyles that middle class upbringings sort of assume as ‘the norm’ – own house, own car, 2.4 children, a job in an office where you have to wear a suit and the sort of mind-numblingly dull existence that I feared I’d end up in when making those career choices in my teens. I promised myself that I wanted to avoid a job where I’d strole into the office and say “Our sales have gone up by 0.0001% above target in the past quarter – aren’t we fantastic!?!?” Yet I lacked the courage and open mind to break free from sleep-walking into such an existence. (I also lacked the mentors to show me that another way was possible).

Given where I am health-wise, I can’t see myself taking on a full time job – the long term impact of my mental health crisis earlier this year means I’d be too exhausted to manage such hours. It’ll be quite some time before I’ve recovered. With that in mind, there’s no way on this planet I’d be able to think about affording running a car or having my own place. The nature of freelancing is that your income is too unpredictable to sustain such a thing. Well…it is for me given the hours I can put into it. Hence I’m very lucky to have a supportive family – one of those ‘hidden subsidies’ often forgotten about in the rough and tumble of political debate. Just ask anyone with caring responsibilities. In particular carers under 18.

Up until recently, I assumed that by the time I hit my early 30s, I’d have my own place, own car and be married with children and in a full time job while being in reasonably good health. Living the ‘life on a piece of paper’ lifestyle. Ooops.

What do you do when you don’t get to where you expected to be?

Or rather, where you were brought up to expect to be somewhere, only to find that you’re not? I guess it depends on whether you completely bought into that message or not. By the time I got to university I was already having my doubts about the stuff only a few years prior I was dead certain about. Hence getting to my early 30s being nowhere near those goals didn’t really come as a surprise. For a start, someone moved the goalposts. When house prices & rental prices go skywards, the distance between each rung on the ladder gets greater. There comes a point where fewer and fewer people can make the jump between each rung. It’s sort of where I see myself now. Why bother aspiring for something that seems completely out of my reach? It’s not a lack of ambition, it’s developing a sense of realism and saying that I don’t want to play the property game at all. Ditto with motors.

“Well Pooffles, if you don’t have your own house and own car, how are you going to be an upstanding respectable member of the community??!?!”

‘Keeping up appearances is soooo 1990s’

Having spent seven years in the civil service, I feel that I’ve climbed up as far as I want to go on any career ladder. I’ve moved into a world where we don’t ‘do’ traditional office hierarchies. In those areas that do, that’s fine. People like me are more than happy to bypass them and find alternative routes. The internet and social media make this task far easier than in times gone by.

Doesn’t it mean that what you want to do is all ‘Me, myself and I’???

No – quite the opposite.

Anyway, isn’t aiming for own house and own car all a bit ‘me, myself and I’? While I don’t judge others for aiming for such things, it’s just not me. I’ve learnt to work around not having my own car, so the idea of a car being a necessity is one I don’t buy for myself – though that may be different for others. Looking at how much housing, food and fuel/transport cost, I’m surprised that most people have anything left.

It won’t be like this in the long term. I’m not living with my parents through ‘laziness’. I’m not well enough to support myself, let alone in a financial position to support myself. But then supportive families support each other: it’s what we do. That and I get to see my lovely nephew three times a week. Possibly the only person on this planet who has grown up with Puffles as a permanent presence in life. Can you imagine a life where Puffles has always been ‘there’?

“So Pooffles, what’s on the list?”

I’d like to make a positive difference. I don’t know why. It’s just something inside me that tells me it’s what I’ve got to do.

I’d like to help form a community orchestra in Cambridge similar to the Duxford Workshop – if only because the latter is very difficult to get to via public transport.

I’d like to learn how to ice skate and roller-blade properly. So please can we have that long-muted permanent ice rink in Cambridge please, given that lots of building is happening anyway?

I’d like to meet up with many of the lovely people I’ve got to know via social media on a more regular basis and in larger groups. On the occasions when I have done this, they have been great fun for all involved.

I’d like to overcome my mental blocks on all things creative – especially with art, music and creative media. I have a number of tools but struggle to pick them up, let alone use them in the way I’d like to.

I’d love to see Puffles’ younger politically aware female followers come together and unleash their power in a manner that would have far greater impact than the sum of their parts – smashing the glass ceilings and institutional barriers that are in their way

…ditto any of Puffles’ followers that feel disenfranchised by the current system

I’d like to make a positive difference to my home town – making it realise (and ultimately deal with) its own flaws so that it can meet the expectations that come with a growing ‘brand’. (Yes, I hate the term too).

I want to help create a more open, informal culture and movement locally around learning – breaking the silos that exist within Cambridge and beyond.

I want to go dancing again – regularly – with someone who will become the love of my life.  I’ve not met her yet.

I’d like to sing or perform as part of a large group of people to a big audience in splendid surroundings.

I want to experience the sound of the silence of nature – away from the noise and the bright lights: To experience the seemingly unlimited expanses of land of the great continents, to experience the sight of the stars and galaxies in the night sky

I want to recover from my mental health problems – yet at the same time I know I’ll only be able to minimise them. My mental health struggles have helped make me what I am today.

I want to have more of of the great people I’m meeting and corresponding with on social media living within easy reach of me.

I want to host one of those dinner parties – the ones where you get to put the world to rights.

I want to take a big group of people to a grand ball somewhere, like I did several years ago during my dancing days.

I want to be able to get the contents of what’s on my bookshelf and DVD collection into my head (in a manner that I can understand and use), but I know that this is not going to happen.

I want to find a shoe maker that makes nice smart shoes that are also comfortable to wear. I don’t do leather soles :-/

I’d like to be part of a small music group where I can play both my viola and/or bass ukulele to music that moves me.

I’d like to smash the examination stranglehold that crushes young people’s musical hopes at too young an age.

I’d like to help make and take part in a digital video with friends that’s something like this. Why? Because it’s looks like FUN.

I feel I should learn a woodwind instrument

I want to play football again, but fear I’m past my physical peak on anything sports-related

I want to go skiing and trampolining … and on a cycle tour too.

Funnily enough, I do want my own place that I can make my own, but I just cannot visualise it happening in the near future

I want to go on a summer school where I can update myself on everything that’s happened in the various subjects since I left school. In particular on science.

I want to learn to code – or rather I want to know how to code without having to go through the intensive process of learning how to. Let’s be honest here.

I’d like to hold to account those institutions that I feel did so much damage to me during my childhood. It won’t happen though.

I’d like to ride a unicorn, fly on the back of a dragon, learn how to competently shoot an arrow from a bow, learn a martial art competently and how to sword fight. All about as likely as each other.


Chances are I’ll want to add to this later. But thus far for now.




2 thoughts on “I’d like to teach the world to sing

  1. What a fantastic list of inspirational goals. Many experiments have shown that the act of writing them down takes you one step closer to achieving them. I’d be surprised if you didn’t tick off half of those things in the next five years. Good luck! Go for it!

  2. There isn’t anything wrong with doing something just for yourself. Being happy is often more than enough to put a smile on another’s face. There you go. You did something for YOU and without even aiming to, you made someone else’s day a little brighter.

    Spend time with your nephew. That is for you. You’ll look back on brilliant memories. Just a smile will be one, a big unforgettable smile that just sticks. In twenty years time.. your nephew will cherish a time when you spent time with him. You might not even remember it but he will. You showed him something that opened a world to him. Maybe you taught him something, said a magic phrase that really landed. Along the way, you’ll have wiped his nose, cleaned grazed knees, taught him to ice skate and all sorts of wonderful things that teach him what joy is. You’ll become one of the most important people in his life. Because you wanted to spend time with him and ye did. That’s what supportive families do.

    Do what you want. As long as you don’t set out to harm people, you aren’t doing wrong, you are doing what you should be doing.

    The fun I’ve had with my nieces… rolling around and jumping around laughing and play-fighting on their trampoline in our jammies on a Sunday morning! The snowball fights we’ve had! The huge eyes running around a museum “WHAT is that Rattles?I’ve neeeeevvveeer seen that befoooore!” “It’s a crocodile. A stuffed croc,babes. Like it Does it move, d’ye reckon?” Sneaking out the house very early taking cornflakes and bowls and spoons and milk for a mystery breakfast party with us – off to the local park at the end of the street, in our slippers while the grass is still dewey.

    Do what you want to do that makes you happy whenever you can. The rest will fall into place somehow along the way.

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