My son wanted to know if I had any re­grets, so I told him some of them – and oth­ers I kept to my­self.

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - UPFRONT - MARK DAPIN

The late Chop­per Read lied about me, as he lied about pretty much ev­ery­thing else. I ap­pear as a walk-on char­ac­ter in his book Chop­per 9: The

Fi­nal Cut (whose ti­tle it­self was a lie, since Read wrote an­other two Chop­per books – 10½ and 11 – and then started again from the be­gin­ning) in a largely fic­ti­tious episode set in a lap-danc­ing club in Tas­ma­nia. But I was with Read on the night in ques­tion (as they say in po­lice state­ments) and I asked him about the first book, Chop­per from the In­side. In the first chap­ter, he wrote that he re­gret­ted noth­ing, while at the con­clu­sion he claimed to re­gret ev­ery­thing. That night, he told me he ac­tu­ally had no re­grets, as he’d ini­tially stated, but he’d felt that would make an un­suit­able con­clu­sion to his mem­oir.

The ques­tion be­comes com­pli­cated when you con­sider the fact that most of the things that Read claimed not to re­gret, then to re­gret, then not to re­gret again, he had not done in the first place. Read reg­u­larly ad­mit­ted to crimes of which he had never been ac­cused, many of which hadn’t even been com­mit­ted.

The other day, while we were walk­ing to a cake shop, my 12-year-old son asked me if I had any re­grets. I was de­ter­mined not to give him a lec­ture, but I couldn’t help but tell him (the truth) that I wished I had tried harder at school. I would’ve like to put more ef­fort into ev­ery­thing, re­ally. Look­ing back, I’ve been far too ca­sual about my life. Al­though at least I didn’t cut off my ears, like Chop­per.

In fact, I have quite a few re­grets – some of which I told my son, some of which I kept to my­self. I wish I’d have had more silly hair­cuts when I had more hair. I would’ve liked to wear a mo­hawk, or even a faux­hawk. Now, the only op­tion open to me is a no­hawk. Con­versely, I re­gret not shav­ing my head ev­ery week since I was 18. If only I’d taken that pre­cau­tion, no­body would re­alise I was “go­ing” bald.

I don’t re­gret start­ing to smoke at 16, but I re­gret not giv­ing up at 21, when I’d tasted ev­ery­thing smok­ing had to of­fer (that is, noth­ing).

I re­gret not hav­ing pur­sued an am­a­teur box­ing ca­reer – but if I had done I’d be dead, since I’m un­doubt­edly the least co-or­di­nated boxer ever to pull the right-hand glove on to his left hand.

I re­gret not hav­ing been more con­fi­dent as a teenager. I re­gret sur­ren­der­ing to that ado­les­cent sense of shame. I wish I’d been a singer in a band, al­though I can’t sing any more than I can box, and my fan­tasy mu­si­cal ca­reer would un­doubt­edly have con­flicted with my imag­i­nary sport­ing ca­reer, and I would’ve had to make the choice be­tween one fic­ti­tious path or the other, so it’s prob­a­bly best (or, at least, less com­pli­cated) that I did nei­ther.

I re­gret ev­ery cruel word I’ve ever said to any­one. There haven’t been many – not that I re­mem­ber, any­way – but none of them would’ve added any­thing of value to the world.

I re­gret buy­ing a ridicu­lous track­suit with pants that looked like pjyama bot­toms, and a Le Shark polo shirt when I couldn’t af­ford a La­coste. I re­gret be­ing un­em­ployed and broke. I should’ve pushed my­self harder to find a job.

I re­gret not spend­ing more time with my gran­dad when he was alive. I re­gret not know­ing that my brother and sis­ter needed me. I re­gret not hav­ing a “Bowie cut” in 1972, as I think I could’ve swung it (even­tu­ally) as the price of my co-op­er­a­tion with my mum’s di­vorce.

But the thing I re­gret more than any­thing else is not speak­ing to my dad for two years, and only get­ting back in touch with him when he was fa­tally ill. I can never make that right, not even in fan­tasy. But I didn’t tell that to my son, be­cause I didn’t want to lec­ture him.

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