Dear Rog (1976),
It's your birthday today. You are fourteen. You don't realise it, but in the next year, your life will change beyond your wildest imagination. The feelings you have of being lost and insecure will not completely subside for many a year and it will take you a very long time to realise that your issues with education are down to dyslexia and not stupiditity. At the moment, you feel alienated from everything. This will have started to subside by this time next year, the catalyst will be when you see a band called the Ramones.
You won't have a clue who they are and you'll only go because your sister Caroline has a spare ticket. You are not into music right now, but by this time next year this will be your life. You are not into very much at all right now, save for Football which you are rubbish at. Don't worry, you won't be the shortest in the class for very long. Your August birthday has not served you well physically up to now, but you will soon catch up and be taller than most of your mates. Your skills won't particularly improve on the football field, but you will learn to put a crunching tackle in and make yourself useful to the team. You will have a lot of fun playing football over the next few years.
At the moment you feel really insecure about girls, don't worry about this either. It will take you a while to realise that your mates boasts are mostly lies. As you get into music and start your band, you'll find your self confidence improves. The next year or so at Finchley Catholic High School will be a difficult time. It will take you a long time to appreciate the positives that the school has given you,but when you find yourself at Orange Hill Senior High School, you will find that you are far happier. Leaving a boys school for a mixed environment will be a big turning point.
When you eventually leave school, you may find yourself disappointed with your grades, but your decision to spend time in Sweden will define you far more than you could ever realise. The time away, out of your comfort zone and away from negative influences will be the moment when you find your adult self. You will never be a boring, straight laced person. Life will throw up many shocks, some of which you won't be prepared for. Some of these will take a very long time to come to terms with, but you will gain strength.
As for your music. It will not come easily, the band will always be a struggle to keep going and will cost you friendships, but eventually it will reap reawards. You will play around the UK, in Sweden, Finland and Belgium with the band. You will also build a world class studio in Mill Hill, although this will take decades to see.
At the moment you are struggling with issues of faith. You are particularly struggling to see how the Roman Catholic Church has any relevance on your life. This is causing friction with Mum and Dad. You are conflicted by this. It will take a long time for you to come to terms with your own spiritual nature. You will only truly find this when you stop trying to say things to impress or conform to what you think are other peoples expectations. You will learn who you are and what you are spiritually and you will also realise that everyone has a different path, that only they can walk. You will realise that those who try and change you are those who don't respect you. Sadly and again this will take decades, you will see that it is the Catholic Church and not you that needs healing. Your feelings of being let down will become a constant struggle, growing as you get older, but when you learn to see the good and the bad this will not be unsurmountable for you.
You will be lucky. You will have some great friends, but be warned, some of your friends won't make it you will find that some people will not repay the faith and trust you have in them. But don't worry, once you deal with the disappointment of this you will appreciate those that stand by you. You will also find that some people come into your life and depart from it just as quickly, leaving a huge mark, that is hard to rationalise. You will realise that they were there when they were needed and they went when they had to go. Tears will be be shed, but once you can see why, you will be grateful for what they brought.
Your greatest gift is that you are prepared to take chances. You won't be looking back saying "what if" too many times. Some of the turnings will be wrong ones, but even these detiurs will simply make the journey more interesting. When you look back on all this in years to come, you will find that many things don't make much sense, but you'll come to realise that the world is a very chaotic system and just because a path seems sensible and obvious, doesn't mean it is the right one.
You will spend your life scratching your head at the events in the wider world. The world as you see it now will have changed beyond recognition by the time you become the man who writes this letter. You will see times where it seems that sanity has descended and you feel secure and you will find that these times are just as trasitionary as times when it seems madness is engulfing the world. You will come to realise that you can't spill tears over what you can't control.
But mostly take heart. There will be far more good times than bad and the worries and concerns that engulf you at the moment will work themselves out.
All the best,