There can be no doubt that getting the news that cancer has visited your family is a life changing experience. Been there with both parents: it took my dad at 48 but my mum’s still batting on 90 not out. Everything that has gone before, that quiet normal family life flies straight out of the window as you come to terms with what fate has just done to your life. Quite simply, it can never be the same again.
LCFN has done a lot of things in its time to try and mirror the hardship that the kids have to endure: the pain, the suffering, the longevity of the course, the fact that you never seem to get a moment’s rest from the pressure of thinking about what it is that’s happening to you… But the one thing that LCFN has never experienced is that initial tap on the shoulder that says “here, take a seat, I’m afraid I have some news that’s going to change your life, and it’s not good news”…
Those of you who read the 39 Steps blog two weeks ago got a whiff of what might be to come. If you read Slange Var last week, then you got the cover story because all the trouble that I’ve had with my thumb these last few weeks (and it was real trouble, believe me) allowed me to paper over the cracks. I was not in a position to say anything, and even now, I can say very little except to confirm that as of today, I am working for myself.
The 5am starts are history. The 40 and 50 mile days on the bike are history. Riding the A77, Newton Mearns and Giffnock is history. New challenges lie ahead, in both my professional life and on two wheels. I have to say that by the time it got to the day before my 63rd birthday, I thought there was more than an even chance that I would make it to retirement in two years time with an unbroken career in IT of having worked every single day since I started back in July 1975. But for the third time in my career, redundancy tapped me on the shoulder.
The first time it happened in 1987, I took a job with a startup software house and began working for them on April 1st: maybe that was a sign because three and a half years later, when Ross Taylor wasn’t even one, they went bust. That was a scary time: mortgage, a young family, loss of the company car overnight, and the need to make a buck: fast (see what I did there?). I made a couple of phone calls when I got home that night, and those calls kept me afloat. The next morning at 4am, I set off (in a Mini) for Salford in Greater Manchester to carry on working on the project I’d been on for the previous two months. One of those calls was to my boss on the project. I’ll remember his words for as long as I live “if you can get yer arse on yer seat at starting time tomorrow, I’ll find you some work”. And he did: for six weeks, six weeks that brought me enough time to find the next four week contract, and so it went on. But that was no way to feed a young family so alongside all the travelling here, there and everywhere, I eventually found myself another permanent role. It lasted for 25 years and two months…
And then that all too familiar tap on the shoulder, the feeling that once you’ve experienced it you never forget, happened again.
But LCFN has taught me many things, and top of the pile by a distance is the notion that you should never, ever give up.
I’ve been in IT for 41 years and not missed a day’s employment in all of that time. And I’m not about to start now. So today I started working for myself.
In two years time, I will have the opportunity to retire. I may take it: there again, I may not. There are some people out there have been very good to me these last couple of weeks, and have given me the opportunity to show what I can do. I know that I’m good at what I do: hell, I’ve been doing it for long enough, and I like to think that my work speaks for itself. So I’ve rolled the clock back 26 years, taken a leap of faith and I’m going for it.
The LifeCycle Man has morphed into the XLookup Man. XLookup is my trading name. If you’ve ever done serious stuff with spreadsheets, you’ll have met my country cousins VLookup and HLookup. And if you ever find yourself wanting something clever to do something even cleverer, look me up: I can probably sort it for you.
My first contract starts next week and it’s in England. Are you starting to see why it’s a blessing in disguise that I’m off the bike injured? That dream I had six weeks ago of completing a calendar year of 200 mile weeks may have been ended prematurely by snogging the tarmac but that spill sure as hell takes the pressure off where I am right now.
The last ten days have been legal this, legal that, sign this, sign that, apply for this, apply for that. And lists… more than ever before, I’ve needed a list. Top of my list for today, of all days, was Life Insurance. Never before have I felt as vulnerable as I did before I sorted it. You get so accustomed to the stuff that comes free of charge with a permajob that you kinda forget how it is to be personally responsible for your family.
In a sense, redundancy is a cancer on family life.
The big R is my big C.
And I’m up for the challenge.
Every day this week I’ve tried to do stuff like I was at work, except I wasn’t. So that meant getting up at seven or half seven, firing up the laptop, checking the list to see what needed done that day, and doing it. It’s become soooooo important to finish each day feeling like I’ve achieved something productive. This is no longer about a big corporation: this is about me. You know that shit about “There’s no I in team? Well here’s its big brother coming down the tracks: There’s a T in IT: and it’s a Taylor”.
I feel challenged.
I feel motivated.
For perhaps the first time in ten years, I feel like I’ve got a point to prove: to prove that I’m worth it.
XLookup is my personal battle with the big R. It’s going to define what’s left of LCFN and it’s sure as hell going to set up what follows when I sign up with Princess Puddles. It may be a blessing is disguise.
Once things settle down, I plan to be working from home. IT is like that: it’s a big joined up world where you can interact remotely, just like Social Media I guess. So think about it: I plan to work as many hours as it’s gonna take to keep my customer(s) satisfied. Saturday and Sunday have suddenly become potential working days.
And then there’s the bike…
Then there’s LCFN…
With the summer coming, I plan on getting up at six, or maybe lying in till seven, and cracking on with the work. Then clocking off at midday to bag LCFN sun miles: I reckon I’ve suffered enough at 5am in the dark and the cold to deserve some midday heat. I plan on bagging as many miles as it takes to stimulate the afternoon brain.
I’m in this for the fighting back.
I’m in this because fate has given me the chance to prove, more than ever before, that I can fight back like the kids.
They may be 6 and I may be 63 but we’re gonna fight this together.
The big R just gave LCFN a huge new lease of life.
Everything will soon be back to normal: a new kind of normal…
When I’m back on my feet again.