Daily Prompt | Close Call: Tell us about a bullet you’re glad you dodged — when something awful almost happened, but didn’t.
I nearly boarded a plane to Texas, 50 years and one week ago. I could have been standing in Dealey Plaza watching the young John F. Kennedy and his beautiful wife as their world was torn apart. You see, I nearly started a job with the company who was responsible for supplying plywood to the Texas School Book Depository, the employer of Lee Harvey Oswald. The shooting occurred when that black Presidential Limousine passed outside the Depository.
The job would have been a real simple manual job and I had applied for it for the sole purposes of travelling, earning a bit of cash and then taking a road trip through America. That was 1963 and what stopped me from taking that job was my parents’ insistence that I accept a place at law school in Liverpool. I started my degree in September that year. The Beatles had just played the Cavern Club and the city felt like the centre of the world. My upbringing meant that I’d been sheltered from a lot of popular music, but the Beatles who were being propelled by their first album Please Please Me seemed to break through my bubble and a whole world of possibility opened up before me. I resolved to see them and I guess you could say I nearly did, but the performance on the 16 August 1963 turned out to be their last at the Cavern.
My law degree didn’t go so well and within 4 months I’d dropped out. It was a mixture of overbearing and intimidating teachers and a peer group who seemed intent on harassing me. I think my parents felt disappointed and I guess that led me to spend a number of years travelling around, picking up odd bits of work. I was nearly in Southhampton when it was granted the status of a city and I was nearly back in Liverpool when Liverpool football team won the First Division for the first time.
I was no longer living near Liverpool when the Beatles returned in July 1964 to play a home crowd, I was living in Colchester. One of my friends went on to become a DJ on the pirate radio station Radio Caroline and I nearly joined him in the Autumn of 1964 to help out as his assistant. He said he needed someone to make tea and help him look good in front of girls. Radio Caroline was named after Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s daughter. The founder of the radio station apparently saw a picture of Caroline as young child doing what I guess children do, playing around and disrupting the work of government. The radio station was meant to be like that, like a child-like libidinal force. Libido is not really my thing.
I could go on, but this tight little knot seems to capture a pattern that would continue throughout my life. I’m sure there are lots of things I nearly did that I don’t even know about. Maybe I nearly met the love of my life and nearly had a wife and family. It seems like a melancholy hand of fate and I can’t really dwell on everything good that didn’t happen. I guess I should spend my time being grateful that I didn’t witness the JFK assassination and lots of other important but horrific things that could have been in my vicinity.
This doesn’t feel like such a good account of what feels so tender for me. A life of great absences and a deep desire for some kind of place in the world. I just don’t find much time to write. I’ve sat down a few times to try to chronicle everything, to make something of the seemingly nothing. My experiences have been so damn subtle. I hope if you read this, you will at least know that I nearly wrote a great story about my life.