Three days before my 46th birthday I found myself over come with a strange sensation. A kind of down feeling, combined with a yearning to know where I was going with my life. As the big day approached, the feeling got stronger and as I awoke on August 18th I really thought “Oh wow, here comes my mid-life crisis!”. I must admit I do hope it is that, as if nothing else it means, thanks to the elegance of maths, that I will live to be 92. As I got used to being another year older, and entering the tale end of my 40’s, the feeling lessened but it is still there. Insecurity about how to proceed with my life. Not anything massive of course. I am very lucky that I have wonderful wife, who I love dearly, and am returning to full health after a really crappy 10 years where I seemed to fall to bits. More a need to examine what path to take from here.
I think it may be the fact that I am feeling healthy again is at the core of all this. After spending so long fighting to recover from my car accident in 1999, and then a further injury at work shortly after as well as the massive surgery I had to have to fix the damage that the car crash caused, I have forgotten what “healthy” feels like. There is a strange unwillingness to believe that I won’t suddenly fall apart again, even though I know this is really unlikely. I know that I had a similar period when I went into my chair back in 1981. Once you’ve had something so major happen to you, you stop trusting your body and it’s ability to take what is thrown at it. Now I have two broken spines, all the surgery and the change in the way the old body works, it is even harder to trust it to stay together. I keep hearing the words of Scotty from Star Trek, “She can’t take much more Captain”. But I must remember that I am the Captain of my body.
My wife always laughs at my relationship with my body. I am not so much a part of it, but more a separate entity that is forced to live within it. More than that, it is not a friendly place. In fact it is more at constant battle with me. I have to order it to do what I want, and it does not always follow those orders. And it fights back, the little bugger. I imagine that anyone able bodied (or non-disabled as I am told is the correct terminolgoy) could never understand what I mean. The best description I can come up with is it’s a bit like driving a crappy car. Years ago I had a Mini Metro that was such a boat. The automatic gear box had a mind of it’s own, the brakes were useless and one time the steering wheel fell off, another the front wheel. Yes the front wheel. Yet I managed to get that car to deliver me to my destination for three years before it was sent to the scrap heap. That’s what it feels like sometimes to be me. The funny thing is I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like not to live this way.
So maybe it isn’t this that is causing my mid-life moment. The real driving force behind it is the fact that as I am now healthy I want to get back into my field of work. Before I got ill my media career was in full swing. I was returning from a very successful meeting about a new show when I had my accident. Sadly breaking my back for a second time made me too ill to work, and so nothing happened. The problem is that now I am ready to go back the media is not ready for me. I have been told I might be a bit old (followed by don’t quote me on that) and that my old punky image is working against me, hence the new natural look (see new picture left). Another big reason is that there are so many more new young disabled people wanting to work in the media. New talent is the life blood of the media world, and I am no longer that. That’s cool, and I really want there to be more new disabled faces on our TVs and voice coming out of our radios, I just wish I could still be one of those faces… new or not. If my time has come where should I go now? I don’t really want to give up on a career I enjoyed and was good at, but if I continue will I just end up a bitter old has been? More of a bitter old has been?!
I have tried to find real employment, but being an ex-TV presenter works against me there too. Over 20 years as a freelance broadcaster and journalist gives you many skills, but little proof of them. Also the modern view of a presenter is it is an easy job. When I started you had to write scripts or ad lib as you went, and third takes where pretty much out so you had to get it right. You also had to be fantastic with people. Interviews went so much easier if you could put the interviewee at ease and help them through the process while remembering what your producer wanted to get in the can. As well as the obvious skills, I learned to write scripts and reports, research people and stories, manage finances… the list goes on. Yet time and time again, I find that I am told I am not experienced or qualified enough for the position I am applying for.
The funny thing is that when I started writing this blog it seemed really important that I did, but now I have got this far I see that is rubbish. It doesn’t matter where I go from here. By just asking the question I am starting out a new. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but the again who does? I know more than most that the Pet Shop Boys lyric, “Just when you least expect it, just what you least expect” is one the truest things ever written. I am happy, healthy and the captain of my own, if crappy body, and I will decide what tomorrow holds. So watch out world, Mik Scarlet is back.
Who needs therapy when you have the internet eh? That saved me some money… think I’ll go shopping. That always cheers me up!
(Having read this back, I am shocked at what a like of self indulgent navel gazing this blog is. But hey this is the internet. One of it’s major roles is to allow the world to waffle on about stuff as if it really maters.)
PS – for fun try to count the number of film, TV and music quotes in this blog.