Ever been wrong about something? I was having a chat last night with my children and the comment was made that one of them shares a trait with me that we never think we are wrong. If course we are all wrong about things all the time. So I thought I'd compile a list of things I've been wrong about and fess up.
1. Having kids.
I never wanted them. It wasn't in my plan at all. I just wanted to play rock and roll, party and enjoy myself. If Madame hadn't forced the issue when I was 33, I'd never have had them. But I was wrong. I'd been fooled and seduced by the concept that total hedonism is the route to happiness. I'm probably a lousy Dad, I don't do much homework for my kids, I tell them it's their job, but I will point them where to look if they are stuck. If something goes wrong, I don't tell them 'don't worry, it will be alright' when it won't. I tell them that life is unfair, get used to it. But I also tell them to enjoy life, look behind the curtains and keep an open mind. Most of all have fun. If I'd known what I know now when I was 20, I'd have had eleven kids and I'd ferry em round in a minibus.
2. Getting married.
Again this wasn't on the plan. I hated the whole concept. Never wanted a big day and never wanted commitment. However when my hand was forced, I did the decent thing. It has worked out well for me. It is great to have a team. I was lucky to find someone who puts up with me, as I am far from easy. I don't counsel opinions before making important decisions and when I want to do something, I do it come hell or high water. I guess the upside is I'm not stingy and it can be fun. The one thing I've realised is that loneliness is the worst thing in the world.
3. Having a proper job.
When I was 18, the idea of having a proper job and responsibilities was an anathema. I just wanted to have enough cash to get by. I didn't want to have to get up and I wanted to be able to do what I wanted when I wanted. I also didn't like the concept of being stuck with a bunch of people I had nothing in common with doing the same thing every day. Now I whilst most of this is stil true, I came to realise that work is what you make of it. If you want it to be enjoyable it can be enjoyable, if you expect it to be mundane and boring, it will be mundane and boring. If you make no effort with people, they can seem dull, but if you engage them, you may be pleasantly surprised. And to my surprise, I find my work enjoyable and rewarding.
I must confess that for one shameful day, I supported Manchester United. This was the fault of my elder brother Frank. It was back in 1968, when I was 5 years old. He told me that Manchester United were the greatest team in the world. He told me that they were playing Manchester City and that when they beat them, they would be champions again. I was so excited. I told Frank that I too was a United fan. In those days, there was no Sky TV. Only match of the day, which was well past my bed time. On Sunday morning, I got up and said to Frank 'did we win?' He sullenly replied 'no City won and they will probably be champions'. I realised he'd cruelly mislead me. On that day, I realised that I was City! It all made sense. I was born prematurely, due to a condition called the Rhesus factor. My mum told me I'd been a Blue Baby and I was lucky to be alive. How could I possibly have considered supporting the dark side?
5. Ronald Reagan.
When Reagan was elected, I thought it would lead to World War Three. His belligerence and anti communism seemed to me apocalyptic. In the early 80's it seemed that it was just a matter of when, not if we'd destroy ourselves and the planet. I was clearly wrong and I couldn't be happier. I don't itagree with his brand of politics, but I did learn that sometimes people you don't agree with can deliver good things. Reagan and Gorbachov delivered a better world.
6. The Catholic Church.
As a Roman Catholic, the church has given me one of the greatest challenges. I was brought up to believe that the Pope was infallible and the church was always right. Sadly, the peadophile priest scandal has destroyed this view in all but the most blinkered faithful. I still believe the church is a force for good and I place great hope in Pope Francis to restore much of the battered credibility of the church. I believe that it is the ordinary people and their faith, rather than the clergy that offer hope. The church needs to fight for social justice, honesty, compassion and forgiveness. It must stop judging people and focus on its mission of making the world a better place for all its citizens, of every creed band colour. A priest is supposed to be someone who builds communities, gives comfort to the sick, dying and bereaved and helps those in need. Any person who doesn't do that is not a priest and needs a new job.
7. The Clash.
Now this will shock a few of you. When I bought the first album by the Clash, I played it once and didn't like it. I much preferred the debuts by The Vibrators, The Damned, The Buzzcocks and The Heartbreakers. It laid unplayed for months and I refused to see the band. Then a girlfriend came around who was a Clash nut. I had to play it. After a couple of listens, I realised I'd made a horrific mistake.
8. Vegetarian diet.
From 1984 to around 1998 I was a pescetarian, eating fish and veggies but no meat. I did this for health reasons following some chronic problems that nearly killed me. I was not unhappy with the diet and most of the time didn't miss meat (apart from the odd hangover when a bacon sarnie would have gone down a treat). Then in 1998 I started to get all manner of strange ailments. Tests followed, nothing seemed to work. At one stage, I even had an HIV test. Then I chanted to Dr Carswell. He asked what my diet was like. I told him I didn't eat meat. He told me I was an idiot and men needed meat. He proscribed liver and bacon. I went down to Dinosaur cafe in Spittalfields and had just that. As I walked back my feet and fingers started tingling. I cold feel the goodness flowing though me. All of the problems went and I felt better than ever.
I was a member from 1984 to 2009. I had believed the party was a force for equality, fairness and social justice. Sadly Blair, Brown, Mandelson and Alan Johnson destroyed that belief. I have come to the view that the Labour Party simply serves itself and its vested interests. The way Blairs cronies have sought to undermine Jeremy Corbyn simply demonstrates how undemocratic the party is. They've taken no account of the huge mandate Corbyn received.
10. Marks and Spencer's.
.....and finally. When M&S took over the old Budgens shop in Mill Hill, I was gutted. I loved Budgens. I felt that M&S would simply be expensive and sell stuff I wouldn't buy. In fact I was wrong. I'd still be happy to have seen Budgens remain, but there is no doubt that Marks is a great asset to Mill Hill.