Sums was never my strong suit. Show me a page of numbers and they would dance before my eyes like mystic runes or the hieroglyphs of the pharaohs.
My teachers responded in two ways – some gave up on me and others shouted very loudly. Both methods had merit but the end result was the same. Utter bafflement.
Today, social workers and psychologists would stroke their beards (especially the ladies) and tell me I had an ‘ism’. But back then I was simply a numpty and all my equations were left to quadrate without any assistance from me or my incomprehensible slide rule.
Words, everyone decided, were my only hope and, goodness, there has been a lot of them over the last four decades, flying first from good old metal typewriters and then beaten half to death from pathetic plastic keyboards like this one.
With the aid of a pocket calculator (I got the wife to show me how to use it) I’ve worked out that since sliding my ample rump into the editor’s chair just over 13 years ago, I have written this column 158 times. (Not this exact column, although it might sometimes seem like it, I know).
With the average column containing 450 words that makes a grand total of 71,100 – roughly the same as a typical novel. Each month as I pound away at this drivel I imagine readers around the region muttering: ‘In God’s name, will he never shut up?’ Well, the simple answer is – yes, I will. In fact, I have. Almost.
By the time you get to my vacuous grin at the foot of this column, I will have departed, determined to spend more time with my family and my fishing rod.
After 13 deliriously happy years at the helm I am delighted to be handing over the tiller of the Good Ship Lancashire Life to my talented colleague Paul Mackenzie. So, from now on, he is to blame. For everything.
I’ve been to many retirement parties over the years when people have talked about how ‘privileged’ they have been to do their job and, being a callous type, I often thought ‘poppycock’.
But the reality is that it has been a privilege to edit Lancashire Life. It’s as much fun as anyone can have fully clothed.
The people I’ve worked with over the last 13 years have been a joy – with one or two notable exceptions – but the most memorable aspect has been meeting so many brilliant people. The people I’ve written about and the people I write for. So, thanks to you all for being such great company. I’ll miss you.
When I started this job, as a refugee from the newspaper industry, someone told me I had entered ‘the cocktail lounge of journalism’. Being a beer man, it took me a while to acquire a taste for cocktails. But once I got the hang of it, I realised what I’d been missing.
Now, I’ve drunk my fill, the landlady has dimmed the lights and the barmaids are anxious to catch their buses home. As for me, well there’ll be other bars but none quite as good as this one.
Enjoy Life – I have!
Editor, Lancashire Life