Saturday, 5 December 2015

Future Boy: an open letter from Paul A Murphy (aged 44) to Paul A Murphy (aged 19).

Some of you may remember that I recently found a letter I wrote to myself in 1991, the content of which was to be read on the evidently monumental day in 2011 that I turned forty. You can see it if you click HERE. 

I reread recently it with a small degree of rue and chagrin (lovely, flowery French terms for turbulent emotions that come in anything but pastel shades) and wondered what it would be like were I able to pop a note back through the temporal post box and address this well-meaning, but callow youth. Not that he'd listen to a guy my age. So, with that up-front appreciation of the manifest futility and obvious vain self-regard of this exercise (feel free to leave now), here we are:
Saturday, December 5th 2015

Hello Paulie,

From the distant future, I salute you, dear boy. Nice letter, you’re a good chap — you get a certain sense of your personality across. 

Yes, I call people ‘dear boy’ and use words like ‘chap’ these days. I don’t mean to sound patronising — it started off as affectation and became habit. Isn’t that how it all starts? You’ll be pleased to know no-one uses ‘wicked’ as a superlative anymore in 2015. Although everyone overuses ‘legend’ to tedious effect — you’ll find out.

I’d love to tell you all sorts of things about what has happened in the intervening near-quarter-century, but to be perfectly honest, the surprise is part of finding stuff out, isn’t it? Furthermore, you’ve seen Back To The Future enough times recently to understand what it is to know too much (although the celebrations we had when we actually got to October 21st 2015 will warm the cockles of your heart, I assure you). However, I can’t resist throwing a few bones your way, though. So, remember these words, as you’re gonna hear them a lot over the next twenty-five years: 

Cobain. Corbyn. Father Ted. Alan Partridge. Internet. iPod. Yewtree. YouTube. Koresh. Daesh. Ebola. Nigella. Nine-Eleven. Seven-Seven. Twenty-Twelve. Phantom, Attack, Revenge. McGann, Hurt, Eccleston, Tennant, Smith and Capaldi.

That should be enough to be getting on with. Oh, and everyone will remember what they were doing the day they heard Cliff Richard was shot, right!?   

Take some advice from an old man: you’re a more tactful chap than you give yourself credit for. Yes, you have a reputation — you know this already — for having a motormouth. It’s quite all right. In fact, never let anyone persuade you to change in this regard. You talk a lot, but are at your best when you are talking things out, because if the alternative is shouting, you will find that you have a dark talent for that too. Be reasonable. Pride yourself on that. You’re already quite good at knowing when to talk and when to shut the fuck up. Keep it up.

The Nineteen-Nineties. Oh, you’re gonna love them. You’ll see. Dance at every opportunity. Drink like a fish. Try not to smoke, it's pointless. Be sociable. Check out new music and new bands. Be bold and courageous. Actually, take that advice to heart beyond the next decade. 

Don’t live with secrets. You think that keeping certain, possibly hurtful things from people is kind and compassionate, but you underestimate their resilience and the resultant repression will eat away at you and leave you bitter and regretful. So be straight-dealing and expect others to be the same — and make sure you take no nonsense should anyone fail you in this fashion.

Be kinder to your father. Life was unkind to him in ways you know, but will fully  appreciate only as you get older, so trust me on this: you know he has his moments of being blustering and unsubtle. You also know he’s unlikely to change. Remember he loves you and it’s all done from concern, however clumsily displayed, so please show patience and forgiveness. Don’t be angry, be compassionate, willing to talk and try to understand — and do not let the sun set on an unresolved argument. This is really important.  

You were absolutely right — there is still time to change. In fact, changing happens every day — but don’t underestimate yourself. Self-deprecation is a cool pose, but recognise that you will be loved, and that’s because you are worth loving. There will be times when this doesn’t feel like it’s the case, but that’s only because you do not choose to see it. Doesn’t matter; the love is still there.

Oh and married? Yeah, like I’d tell you that. You don’t need a letter from the future to tell you that the path of love is not always straightforward. Just make sure you tell the one you really love that you love her, regardless of your situation — and hers — and don’t tell anyone else that if you don’t mean it and only want to keep them happy. This is also very important. Remember what I said about secrets?

You’re doing all right. So get a life, kiddo, as we used to say in 1991. But thankfully no longer in 2015. 

Paul Aloysius Cainnech Murphy

(don’t use the confirmation name all that often anymore though, it doesn’t fly.)

PS: Oh, and don’t leave it until you’re 27 before you watch The Godfather. It’s a genuine classic, so stop dicking about and step to it.

PPS: you don’t even know what a National Lottery is, yet, so let’s not go there.

PPPS: yes, people say “let’s not go there” a lot in the nineties.


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