Inspiration v Age

What did you dream for your life when you were younger? Was it for fame and fortune? Perhaps just money? For me, it was to be a Paramedic. At least that was until I realised I hated people being sick, so I then decided I wanted to be a Fire Fighter. This still holds some weight with me. I would love to be able to say that I help people. To be able to say that I am making a difference.

Money and fame seems to be the driving factor for most people. I wonder whether this is born out of a need to be noticed, a sense of worthlessness in their life, or whether these people honestly believe that the only way they can make something of themselves is to be on X Factor, or some other ‘talent’ show.

London 2012 was a chance for everyone to experience a different sort of ‘talent’ show. The likes of Jessica Ennis, Charlotte Dujardin, Pete Reed, Jade Jones and countless others put themselves out there to challenge to be the best in their respective sports. The aim of the games was to ‘inspire a generation’, but I wonder how many young people will step up to this challenge. And is it only the ‘young’ who can dream to compete? Nick Skelton took Gold at the age of 54.

I have seen a number of comments on Twitter, particularly from younger people, who would love to represent their country in a sport. Some have no idea which sport to take up, but all the same, the interest is there. I think in that way, the message has been broadcast, heard and understood. I only hope that those who have the passion to compete, are given the support by their families, friends and have the money to undertake the training. To everyone who makes the choice to take up this challenge, I wish you all the luck in the world and I hope that one day we are all watching and cheering you on to Gold.

But, I have also seen others who claim that it’s too late for them to try. These are people who are currently sportsmen/women, some in their 30’s, who feel they would be unable to compete at an international standard due to their age. At what point are you too old? I remember having a conversation with a fellow crew member at a rowing club who said she would love to compete at the Olympics, but because she’s in her early 30’s, she was laughed at.

So is that it? At the age of (nearly 30) am I now too old to ever reach an international standard? I agree that there are times you may be out done by a younger competitor, but does that mean that we no longer even try? I refuse to regret decisions I have made in my life, but sitting here, I wonder if I should have continued with my Karate training (and taken my black belt exam) rather than a change of direction and treading the boards at the local theatre. You certainly get more support, it seems, when you are younger.

I start my Karate training again this week but people approach you differently when you’re heading toward (or stumbling past) 30. As the average population age increases, why should people in their late 20’s and 30’s be made to feel like they are heading over the hill?

Personally, I think I’m still (slowly) climbing the hill and have no desire to hit the top or head over it, until I’m heading toward 50!

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Looking back to look forward

A few years ago I made the decision to leave broadcast. I’d been working in and around broadcasters since I was 16.

I remember my first job. I was answering the telephones for Sue and Pete Wilson on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. The work was fun, chatting to the regular callers and ensuring the phones were answered as promptly and politely as possible. I was just shadowing to start with, but soon I was on my own when the guy I’d been working with, Matt Peacock, moved on to present his own show in the morning.

I had the time of my life at the Radio Station. I put in a lot of hours and listened to everything that went on, learning the ropes and taking up every opportunity to try something new. I moved on to present Sport Bulletins, to help out when the Sport team of Paul Furley and Ian Randall weren’t in and I loved it.

Even better was my stint co-presenting the Summer Saturday Sport show with Richard Atkins. I provided the bulk of the Sport input, including securing an interview with the Minardi F1 team boss Paul Stoddart. Sadly it was the day both cars fell out of the 107% rule and he spent the afternoon with the Stewards!

Over time, my career moved on and with stints at BBC World Service (working for grey bars – 24 hour news) and both Audio and Newsroom Playout project teams, I found myself wondering about the world outside the newsroom.

I don’t regret taking time out. Working as a software developer in Gloucestershire was good, but I must admit I don’t miss the peak time rush of Flamingo Flowers. Working in Despatch over Valentines Peak to help the team get the pallets on to vehicles and out the door was actually a lot of fun, but don’t tell them that.

Around 19 months ago, I got the opportunity to move back into London and back into broadcast. You may have heard of Bloomberg. A Financial and Television company which broadcasts 24/7, with shows out of the US, UK and Asia. As a Broadcast Engineer it’s been almost perfect. My colleagues have been amazing and are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

This week, I resigned.

So what now? Well, it’s time to take a step back into software development but within Broadcast. And sport. Time will tell on the detail but needless to say, I am very excited about the coming months!

Sadly it does mean that I won’t be taking part in the Arch to Arc cycle challenge for Help the Hospices. I plan on taking part in one of their other events, but not this one.

One thing you’ll notice missing from this blog, is my time at University. I did go. Part time, for 2 weeks. I quit after I got a job travelling with the BBC as part of the training team for their digital audio playout system.

Everything I know now, has been through hardwork, determination and passion. I wouldn’t mind attending a course as you always pick up new ideas, but for me, I wouldn’t change a thing about how I got where I am now. I’ve met too many wonderful people and have too many great stories to ever want to change that.

Saturday’s trip to Luton

Saturday I persuaded a friend, P, to join me in a trip to Kenilworth Road to witness Cheltenham Town’s FA Cup 2nd Round tie with Blue Sq Premier’s Luton Town.
6th in the conference and battling to get back into the football league, Brabin’s side had recorded only two home wins out of 6 in the league going into this match. Fans I’d spoken to prior to the game were convinced that Cheltenham would have an easy win. For the away supporters nestled in the Oak Road stand things weren’t quite that straight forward.
P and I made our way to our seats complete with coffee and water, settling for seats just behind the goal, about 6 rows or so back. Several guys sat behind me and one asked me if I was any good at blocking the ball so he could decide whether to move. I pointed out my unfortunate record at getting hit by the ball at a variety of grounds and I said that if it headed my way, I would duck.
The atmosphere in the away end was one full of anticipation. With 7 away wins, Cheltenham were in strong form, but we were taking nothing for granted.
Cheltenham went ahead thanks to Duffy after just 2 minutes and looked strong in the opening part of the first half. But Luton were not going to just roll over. The team pulled themselves together and fought hard to make life as difficult as possible for the visitors. By 30 minutes in, I was on the edge of my seat, frustratingly watch Cheltenham lose possession and Luton press forward. Our defence was our saviour, keeping our lead safe until 40 minutes when O’Conner scored for the home side.
To be fair to the Hatters, they had been pushing for that goal and deserved to get something for their work. Luckily, just before the half time whistle blew, Pack gave us back the lead and had the entire Oak Road stand on its feet.
The guys behind me in the stand agreed that Luton were looking dangerous and we needed to pull it out of the bag in the second half. If we could start the second half as strongly as we did the first, we should be ok.
During the break, it started to get cold. Hat and gloves were put on and coat zipped up. The gloves were a mistake though as I was on Twitter duty for St Neots Town FC and can’t operate my phone in gloves. I’d hoped that St Neots would win by one or two goals but after the 5th had gone in, I gave up on the gloves (they finished 6-0 winners against Marlow). Talk about keeping me busy!
Back in Luton, we witnessed O’Conner get his second and pull the home side back to 2-2 just 6 minutes into the second half. The home fans were thrilled. The away fans were silenced. But not for long. Soon, we found our voices as we watched Cheltenham push forward to the goalmouth in front of us. On 64 minutes, Summerfield gave us even more of a reason to cheer, putting us back in the lead.
Luton started to press again and as we watched the action in the distance the referee produced a yellow card for a Cheltenham player. We couldn’t make out who it was. Luton’s free kick just outside the area was taken and again the referee blew his whistle, producing another yellow card quickly followed by a red. It was Duffy. All around me were murmurs and questions. We were unsure what had happened, a few thinking that he hadn’t been booked a first time. As Duffy walked slowly off the pitch and headed to the tunnel, the home fans started jeering. I saw him with his head bowed down and his arms locked straight held just in front of his body, fingers pointed down. I had no idea why and put this image to the back of my mind until the photos came out from the day. Duffy was walking toward the tunnel, just in front of the home fans. Signalling, 3-2.
It was a tense last 10 minutes in the knowledge that Luton could press and we had just 10 men. Yes Luton looked dangerous and when the board went up to announce 5 minutes of extra time we couldn’t believe it.
But Cheltenham turned the pressure up and in the 3rd minute of added time, Penn slotted the ball into the right hand corner and we were elated.
When the final whistle went, my now fairly none-existent voice, found a little bit extra to cheer and sing for the team.
As we left the ground, I asked P for his thoughts on his first ever experience of watching Cheltenham. He’d enjoyed the game and was all for seeing them play again. ‘How about the next round?’ I joked, ‘Depending who we get obviously’. P is a Stevenage and Spurs fan. The funniest thing I thought would be if we were to be drawn against Stevenage. The lads I watch football with are all Spurs/Stevenage fans and I’ve spent a number of years in the away stand at Stevenage, on my own, while they were in the home end.
What I never expected was for Cheltenham to get an away draw at Spurs. A massive bonus for the club, players, staff and fans alike. I challenge anyone who supports/works for the club to tell me they’re not on cloud 9 over this draw!
As for P? He’s said he’ll come along to the game if he’s free. But he wont be able to support Cheltenham. Yet another match where we meet in the pub and then go to our separate stands then!
What a great way to kick off 2012. Bring on the Spurs.