Let’s all dance with the devil

Hallowe’en isn’t a thing in Poland. My students, who obviously have different holdays that they celebrate to mine, are always interested in why we celebrate Hallowe’en, November 5th and Boxing Day. I, on the other hand, am always curious as to why Santa comes early in Europe and am still waiting for a reasonable explanation from someone as to what Corpus Christi is actually celebrating. To be clear “It’s something about God” is not a full explanation!

These are good lessons. They are always fun. However, what was not fun was my wife’s reaction to me telling her that we are going to a Hallowe’en party on Saturday. Just for a little background, the good lady wife is Catholic and a pretty strong one at that. “I’m not celebrating the devil!” she cried in absolute disgust. “You’ll have to cancel. Anyway, we have to go to the cemetary the next morning to put candles on graves for All Saints’ Day”.

Oh, the irony.

I’m prepared to be wrong here but here is my understanding of 4 country-specific holidays that seem totally unrelated but are all celebrating the same thing:

30 April (Czech Rep.): čarodějnice / Witching Night

1 May (UK): May Day

31 Oct (Ireland): Hallowe’en

1 & 2 Nov (Poland): All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day

It is no coincidence that the night before All Saints’ Day is otherwise known as Hallowmas. These things are really one and the same thing, celebrated in different ways around Europe and the world. What my wife thinks of as a terribly heathen thing to be celebrating is, no doubt, the other side of the same coin as what she feels to be a good wholesome celebration the next day.

To understand the relevance of the dates, imagine the year as a wheel and then cut it in half. The night between April and May is exactly half a year removed from that dissecting October and November. Now, think about those dirty heathen Pagans who lived all those years ago doing nothing more useful than building henges and so on. For then, the world had two distinct seasons, one when the land was bountiful and one which was characterised by long nights and a dearth in the soil.

For such people, who worshipped the sun, the spring and summer were the time of the year in which their deity was with them. The time from November to April was a dark and foreboding period of cold and danger and a lack of sustenance. They believed that the world was ruled for that period by what superstitious people nowadays may think of as the devil.

The four celebrations are therefore all riffs around the same chords. Hallowe’en would have been the time of year that the Celts of ancient Ireland gathered together, dressed as ghouls, to scare away the bad spirits that they believed were descending upon the world for the coming months. They were simply marking the end of harvest and the coming of the beginning of the dark half of the year with a feast that bordered on the macabre as a way to ward away evil.

In the Czech Republic they mark the last day of the dark half of the year with a celebration burning effigies of witches, to symbolise the death of the darkness that had held the world in its hand. In Britain, May Day is a celebration to bless the earth on the first day of the sun’s semiannual reign—not to be confused with the coincidental 1st May celebrations that mark Labor Day in Russia and America (at least that is one thing they both agree on!)

So, far from being the religious antidote to the heathen venom of devil worship that is Hallowe’en, All Saints’ Day is a simple extension of the same thing. The belief was the world was ruled by darkness from the first of November, so lights would be put on the graves of the dead to ward off evil spirits, to help guide the spirits of the dead through the darkness.

It is a strange quirk of religion to adopt the traditions of other religions, cults or societies and then conveniently forget all about it and renounce them as ungodly. My wife was even taught to fear Hallowe’en by priests in her youth.

So, if you are in the same position and are not sure about whether enjoying Hallowe’en is going to get you sent to Hell or not… here is my advice. Don’t worry because:

a) Hell certainly does not exist

b) Even if it did, you would have to do something worse than cut up a pumpkin and have a little fun to get there

c) Even if Hell did exist, and even if you were going to go there for celebrating Hallowe’en, you’d also go there for celebrating All Saints’ Day too, as it has the same Pagan root. So, in that case, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Take it easy and have a Happy Hallowe’en, an anything-but-moribund All Saints’ Day, a wonderful Walpurgisnacht and a merry May Day 🙂

T

UK:

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Poland… Help Me Understand

I guess we are all getting a little tired of migrants in the news. I suppose that to most of us it is one of those things (anyone remember Ukraine?) that was interesting for a while but eventually the media coverage would just die out and we could all forget about it. However, with the numbers of migrants coming to Europe increasing monthly, with the 100,000+ who entered the EU last month being the highest amount so far, the death toll is also increasing: a lorry with 71 suffocated Syrians in it and a couple of sunken boats of Libya yesterday… who knows how many today?

It is a subject that is even causing people like myself (who rarely read the news and believe ignorance is bliss) to actually take notice and even become active and get involved in the debate. I have thought long and hard and come to the bold conclusion that I have no idea whatsoever what to do, so please don’t come to me for answers.

Maybe I don’t know what to do, but I do feel like I at least have the capacity to sympathise. That is why it has astounded me so much to hear so many Poles who do not have any sympathy at all for the desperate human beings we see on the news each day.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I want to be very clear about this; a lot of the Poles I know are wonderful and are full of empathy, even though none of them have any more answers than myself. But there is an alarming number of people who seem to be almost callous or even take some perverse enjoyment in seeing the refugees/migrants/whatever-we-are-supposed-to-call-them suffering. I even heard a joke about the bodies found in Austria today.

The thought that raced around my head the most was this: “Surely, of all the people in Europe, you should understand!”. It is baffling to me that anyone here should not understand the plight of these people. Let’s put some context on this:

A quick quiz question: In which city do the second-largest number of Polish people live?

Okay, so we all know Warsaw is the biggest. But which is next? Cracow, Lodz, Gdansk, Wroclaw? Nope. The answer is, of course, Chicago. Over a million of them. In fact, it was all them Poles voting for Obama that helped him get towards the White House when he was elected to represent Illinois.

Why are there so many Poles living in places like Chicago? I suppose there are three reasons.

  1. War: Auschwitz, occupation, the Warsaw ghetto, 5m dead… the devastation of Poland in World War 2, and the total destruction of Warsaw and other cities at the end of it, left a country that was not just on its knees but lying flat on its back with few vital signs of life. The number of Jews who escaped Poland at that time and their subsequent diaspora, the fighter pilots who flew in the UK and never came home again and Poles who escaped or were forced to relocate is huge. My town, Wroclaw, is a good example: the current population is about 600K, almost the same as it was in 1938. In 1945 it was down to nearer 100K. At the end of the war it was death, escape and the forced relocation of the German population that took the population down (Wroclaw was Breslau, a city in East Germany, until the Yalta agreement moved the borders of Poland west after the war). As the Germans were ejected, their places were taken by Poles who had been forced out of modern-day Lithuania and Ukrainian cities like Lviv, as the former Polish territory was taken over. My city is, essentially, one of migrants because of a war.
  2. Political regimes: One does not need to be a victim of war to be a refugee. The communist regime that ruled behind the Iron Curtain for decades created social and economic conditions so poor that many fled. Being actively or vocally against the system – or even being suspected of harbouring such views – was enough to mean one was in danger of imprisonment or execution. I personally know dozens of Poles and Czechs who flew to new lives in Italy, America, West Germany, the UK and Canada during that time. Their stories are of midnight border runs and desperate risks. One lady I know went from the Czech Republic to Slovenia with a 1-year-old in the boot of the car with her. Sound familiar?
  3. Work: A million Poles are currently in Britain and Ireland alone, ruining the good old English economy by getting their heads down and working hard and paying their taxes. Bloody Johnny Foreigners!

When I look at those three things, I see the exact reasons that are driving people to Europe today. I cannot claim to know what to do about it, or whether it is a danger. I don’t have those answers; what I do have are questions. I question why the country that one would assume would be most be most able to identify seems to have such a large group of people who are either ignorant of their own history or totally unable to feel empathy.

Perhaps it is a consequence of religion. Perhaps it is the common doubly-erroneous misconception that all immigrants are Muslims and all Muslims are terrorists (albeit terrorists who have their entire worldly possessions in a plastic bag and are carrying babies on their backs). Perhaps it is the popularity of the far-Right (although many people I know who fail to empathise are quite liberal). I wish I knew. I’m open to answers and interested in the debate.

My one theory on the matter is that politicians are doing a poor job of leading by example. When the rhetoric from the top is that we should do all we can to stop immigrants entering, that view filters down through society.

I love Poland and I owe the country so much. If Obama had actually ever come good on that promise of visas to the US that made so many people vote for him, I may even take nationality. But there are times when I feel very foreign: times like this when all my logic tells me Polish mentality should be overwhelmingly in one direction, but it is undeniably heading a different way. Admittedly, it may be a minority who feel that way, but even a minority seems incomprehensible when I believe every single person in this country is related to someone who is a migrant because of war, fear or work. I’m not saying people should feel the current mass movement of people is great thing, I’m just wondering why the country that has experienced this more than any other seems stone-hearted at times.

I’d really appreciate some enlightenment.

JUST DON’T CALL ME A HIPSTER

I got called a hipster again today.

Beard… check

Backpack… check

Bicycle… check

Tattoos…check

Vinyl collection… check

I give the impression of having my finger veyr much on the pulse of modern culture. However, if you call me a hipster, I rail against it in the strongest possible terms. If anything, I’m a child of the grunge era, a Brit pop teen and an indie adolescent. Hipster is not of my time. Let’s examine the evidence:

First, the beard. I’ve had it since about 1999. I have sensitive skin, so I generally just shave once a month and that sees me through.

The backpack and the bicycle? Well, I started working in offices dotted around a city which has the third slowest traffic in Europe. A bike was pretty much the only way to get from place to place and, after a while, I realised that it also counteracted the hours spent sitting in a chair teaching. The backpack kind of comes with the bicycle; when you have a whole load of teaching materials, there isn’t really any other solution.

The tattoos… Well, the first has been there since my 18th birthday in 1997 and has been reworked a couple of times. The others appeared every three or four years but I try to keep them in places I can cover and keep them small. No hipster sleeve.

As for the vinyl, this is the one that bothers me. People seem to think that a vinyl collection is a hipster essential that I ahve acquired as an image extension in recent years. Whilst it is true that the collection has grown a lot in recent years that is mainly due to the fact that when you lead a nomadic life (as I did from the age of 21 to 29) hauling vinyls around is not good for the hand luggage quota. And, to be frank, I never had the money until a couple of years ago.

I have vinyls because I like vinyls and I always have. Some of them are ones I bought when I was ten or eleven years old. Others predate that, as they were the first records I ever heard and have been handed down from my dad.

I love vinyl because the world nowadays is just too instant and too easy. If I want to listen to a song – any song in the history of the world – I can think of that song and be playing it on a mobile device or iTunes within a minute. Try it yourself. Think of any obscure song you have ever heard and I bet you can find it and start listening within a minute.

But what I then find happens is that I lack attention when the next track is only a click away. On Youtube I rarely listen to an entire album. I find myself skipping to the next on the list as soon as the current file loses interest. And on iTunes I often find that I want to listen to a song and will skip the two-minute intro to get to the James Iha guitar blast in Porcelina…

Vinyl slows me down. It is a process that requires an investment in cleaning the record and setting the needle. Skipping tracks is not an option that needs no more than the click of a button. It involves getting off my arse and walking to the record deck and trying not to scratch the record.

So, there is nothing hipster about my love of vinyl. It is the mere fact that, in the modern world, which runs at such a rate of knots that it is hard to keep pace, it is the one medium in which I can still sit and listen to the entire side of a record without entertaining thoughts of moving on. It forces my attention and encourages me to enjoy the creation as it was meant to be listened to. The beauty and power of that riff in Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans is that when Iha’s guitar hits after 2-minutes of a sprawling, flowing seascape of seashell-hissed lullabies, it explodes with a power that is in part its own but is equally due to the build of anticipation that the intro creates.

I am very much an analogue music listener because music demands more focus when listened to that way. it demands more investment. And, to come to the ELT point, it is why I remain an analogue teacher. I can appreciate the world of interactive whiteboards, Youtube & TED videos, online dictionaries and interactive lessons via skype or any other means. But I will always believe that the more you strip away from a student and force them to invest in the creation of the lesson and the content, the more they will be disposed to focus upon it and learn. The more engaged they are in the lesson, instead of being passive observers of the magic of technology throwing petabytes of information at them, the more they will actively retain what they are learning.

And, as a teacher, I find that creating lessons that are a couple of bits of paper and a lot of interaction, I am not letting myself off the hook. It is the same as using the gramaphone instead of the computer to play music; I have no choice but to pay attention. I have to fully give myself to the lesson and I become better for it. I enjoy the experience more and I teach more to others.

So, whilst I appreciate the backhanded hipster compliment at times – as it means I give the illusion of youth that I cannot claim – I think that as a teacher I am anything but hipster and will remain that way until I quit for good. The moment I stop having to clean the record, set the needle and invest in the full process, is the moment that all is lost for me.

Lost In Translation

There are some beginnings to books that just grab you from the first line. The Great Gatsy is one of them, or “All of this happened, more or less” from Slaughterhouse 5, or “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning or in rain?” from the Scottish play, and “It was a pleasure to burn” from Fahrenheit 451.

My second favourite would be Catch 22: “It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him”.

However, towering above them all (not just the first line, but the whole first paragraph) is 1984: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

It is so perfect a beginning to a novel that nothing comes lose in my opinion. The whole point of a first line is to hook you immediately and the one little detail of it being thirteen o’clock just aroused such a curiosity in me when I first read it as a teenager. I started questioning and, like all humans, once the question was raised, I needed to find the answer by reading more. Catch 22 and Slaughterhouse 5 had a similar effect. I think the beauty of all three is that they are totally unremarkable in the language and yet they manage to arouse that curiosity with just a single, carefully placed word or two.

And all three set the tone for the rest of the book. Slaughterhouse 5 lets you know that you are unlikely to believe at least some of what is to come and, frankly speaking, Billy Pilgrim is a narrator that may or may not be trustworthy. Catch 22 is an absurdist first sentence to what is an absurdist black comedy from start ot finish. And the wonderful first line to 1984 simply points out that this is not the world you know.

So, I was chatting to some people to day and we discussed the first line in Polish, which reads thus: “Był jasny zimny dzień kwietniowy i zegary biły trzynastą”. Now, it is a word for word translation so precise that it is impossible to find fault with it. However, there is one small detail that makes a remarkable opening to an astounding book into something no more than mundane.

The small detail? Well, Poland uses a 24 hour clock, so the correct way to say 1pm is “Thirteen”. Basically, the Polish sentence translates back as “It was 1pm on a bright cold April day”. Gone is the feeling that something is not right in the world, gone is the vague military timing that suggests some kind of martial state, and gone is the very essence of one of the greatest opening lines ever committed to paper.

Again, it is one of those occasions when, even if you do it right as a translator, it somehow comes out wrong!

If anyone has a better suggestion for the opening line to 1984 in Polish, I think we should start the ball rolling with an internet campaign to better translate it and bring the majesty of the English sentence into the Polish version.

And, while we are at it, we can try to get rid of that superfluous ‘rok’ from the title!

SZUKAM RELIGI

I’ll take a break from blogging about teaching to post a little reaction to the Oscars and talk about Poland again. Briefly, my favourite film of last year was probably Whiplash or Frank but the awards this year were pretty spot-on. Of course, “I Love You All” from Frank should have won the Oscar for best song without anyone else even being nominated but, you know, they cannot always get it right.

Eddie Redmayne (along with Felicity Jones) gave a great performance in a relatively weak story. The Imitation Game got all the awards it deserved (none) and Birdman was probably just about a better film then Boyhood. However, Linkletter should have still won best director, as making a film over a dozen years is a real achievement and the award is, after all, called Best Achievement in Direction. Birdman was a good film, Boyhood was a real achievement. That is my two-penneth on the matter.

The big Polish triumph was Ida winning Best Foreign Language Film. This is where I get confused. Living here in Poland, none of my students spoke to me glowingly about Ida in the last year. It was a film that people did go and watch but nobody came out of it saying “Wow! It blew me away.”  On the other hand, every single person (and we are talking about tens of people who came to classes after seeing at the weekend and just HAD to tell me all about it) who saw “Bogowie”, was blown away by the film. Maybe someone out there will reply to this and say it was a puff piece or a pile of rubbish… but the impression I got was that people placed that film light years ahead of anything else in Polish cinema this year.

So why put Ida up for consideration and why did it win? I’m not sure. Some say that it is because the story of a Catholic nun who is actually a Jew is the kind of thing that the Academy eats up for lunch and asks for more. However, I’m not going to get into a religious debate on this matter; I’ll save that for my other blog 🙂 I think that the story of a heart surgeon performing the first transplant under the backdrop of Communism would also be something that the Oscars bods would be interested in. It must have just been a choice between apples and pears. All I can say is that, as far as I can tell from feedback everyone has given me (and having seen both films), one was very average and one was exemplary.

What they do show is one thing: they highlight what modern Polish cinema is good at. Dark and brooding stories, or historical pieces with real stories being told in an honest manner, are the forte of Polish film-makers. This was the same when “W Ciemności” won the award a couple of years ago.

What Polish cinema is not good at is the pointless regurgitation of American and British cinema, usually rom-com fodder, which has been transported to Poland. And the reason that it does not work is because it just doesn’t feel real. The list of American films remade in Poland, as if Eastern Europe were L.A., is a depressing state of affairs. There is a list of worst offenders in which I include everything from Wyjazd Intergracyjny through Lejdis to Testosterone and Kotu Cos Tam Cos Tam.

Worst of all is Warsaw By Night. The most recent of this line of Poland-Is-The-New-New-York nonsense flicks features a trailer with girl on girl action, guy on guy action and a group of incredibly rich people living a life of levity. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of films with a gay theme; Pride, Breakfast On Pluto and Billy Elliot are some of my favourite Brit-flicks of the last few years. My issue is the believability of the narrative. Of course, I want to suspend my disbelief a little when I watch a movie. However, there still has to be a part of me that believes it is a plausible situation that I am watching. Poland may be getting richer and more tolerant but it is (unfortunately, in both cases) neither of these to the degree that such a story would like us to believe. You cannot just take an American story and put it in Poland and expect it to look real. The same would go for Sex In The City remade in Kabul with the same characters.

And Polish comedy has fared no better in recent years. If I ask people about great Polish comedies, they invariably suggest Miś or Seks Misja, or even Sami Swoi. All of these have something in common—and it is not only the fact that they are as old as the hills! It is that they had communism as a target. Good comedy needs to have a social backdrop that makes it have some meaning. During communism, comedy (from the films mentioned here to subversive cabaret shows that are still so popular here but are a dying art in most of the world) was a medium through which the established order could be poked fun at without being censured, as the devil was in the details. With no communism to poke fun at, Polish comedy has no social context and has resorted to the boy-meets-girl Hollywood formula that works in L.A. but seems jarringly out of place in Lódź.

So, whether or not Bogowie or Ida was the right choice for consideration by the Oscars is really a moot point; the triumph for me is that, in spite of the tidal wave of tripe that is imported and reset in Poland without thought to the credibility of the narrative voice, there is a truthful voice in Polish cinema and it is speaking loudly and being recognized both at home and internationally. The new voice of Polish cinema is reaching to the past to tell interesting biographical stories or is in the modern dark and brooding fictional tales of someone like Smarzowski. If my two-penneth on the Oscars is that Frank and Richard were robbed, my ha’penny on Poland is that Ida and Bogowie should be celebrated equally as films made in the country they represent, telling the real and believable stories of the people who live there.

THE SUBTLE ART OF TRANSLATION (POLISH FILM TITLES)

I was in work today, in what is now my ‘main’ job, in an ad agency; but I keep my hand in with teaching and quite a lot of translation and proofing. A conversation was being had about how two translators had worked on the same document and it was totally inconsistent. One had done the first half and was using different terminology, structure and syntax to the other. The upshot of it was that the whole thing really needs to be done by one person.

People who do not work as translators often don’t see the nuances make all the difference. If you give three different translators the same document, even assuming they are all totally competent, you will get three totally different outcomes.

The most simple way for me to highlight the weird and wonderful world of translation – both good and bad – is in the way some film titles are translated here in Poland. Here is a little list and I’ll take you through the reasoning (or lack of) behind the titles:

  1. Reggae na lodzie – Cool Runnings
  2. Pół żartem, pół serio – Some Like It Hot
  3. Szlana pulapka – Die Hard
  4. Kraina lodu – Frozen
  5. Podziemny krąg – Fight Club
  6.  Wszystko za życie – Into The Wild
  7. Bezwstydny Mortdecai – Mortdecai
  8. Mroczny rycerz – The Dark Knight
  9. Zakochani bez pamięci – Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
  10. Łowca Androidów – Blade Runner

So, my explantion and a little critical analysis, if I may:

1&2: Cool Runnings, translated roughly as the very-nearly racist ‘Reggae On Ice’ (although that is better than the definitely offensive Czech translation ‘Coconuts On Ice’), and ‘Some Like it Hot’, translated as ‘Half Joke, Half Serious’. These two fall into the same category: titles that are idiomatic and don’t translate well into Polish. So, rather than just leave the original, they try to find some tenuous link and end up making an awful job of it. I’ll not go back into the argument about why ‘Reggae On Ice’ is just not cool (excuse the pun) but I will say that ‘Half Joke, Half Serious’ is my worst title of all. It just says nothing about the film. I always think that if you cannot translate it, don’t bother. Whiplash is called Whiplash and it is still a great film.

  1. ‘Die Hard’ also doesn’t translate, so they ended up with the name ‘The Glass Trap’. I’d normally say “don’t bother” (see point above!) but in this case I love the translator’s effort with the title. It encapsulates the idea of the skyscraper as a huge glass-fronted trap that the hostages are in, as well as referencing the iconic scene where he loses his shoes and Alan Rickman tells his henchmen to “shoot the glass!” (spoiler alert!). However, I guess that when he translated the title, the translator didn’t know that they would make a whole load of progressively-worse sequels that would make the original Polish title seem abstract.

4&5. ‘Fight Club’ as ‘Underground Circle’ and Frozen as ‘Land Of Ice’ are fine titles. They are examples of when a title will translate literally but works better with a little tweak. I think that in the case of ‘Frozen’, it is a piece of genius marketing. Any literal translation would involve using the ‘rz’ sound in Polish which lots of kids find difficult to say. ‘Kraina Lodu’ is made up of some nice, simple sounds that 5-year-old girls will be able to say to their parents. However, don’t get me started on the abomination that is the translation of ‘Let It Go’ as ‘I Have The Power’ – that completely missed the damned point! She had the damned power all along…. God, I need to calm down.

  1. ‘Into the Wild’ translated as ‘Everything For Life’, also completed missed the point of the film. I cannot explain why, it just didn’t sit right for me at all.
  2. ‘Mortdecai’ as ‘The Shameless Mortdecai’ is a classic example of a translator not being able to not put something of himself into the work. The title is a name but they couldn’t help doing a little bit more. I feel like it is a needless and pointless piece of ego getting in the way. Coincidentally, that is also the way I feel about Johnny Depp’s performances in almost every film for the last decade.
  3. ‘The Dark Knight’ as ‘The Dark Knight’. Sounds too obvious? Well, for my money, the Polish is a brilliant here. The translator was astute enough not to be totally literal with the word dark by using the meaning connected to shade; he rather used the Polish word that means dark in the sinister sense. I think this is a perfect example of a thoughtful translator offering just enough of himself to play with the title, but without making it about the himself.

9&10. What can I say? Awful decisions. Both of them fall into the same trap. They are hard titles to translate and so the translator read the synopsis of the film and just summarized the entire plot in 2 or 3 words. However, the brilliant thing about both of these original titles is that they DON’T TELL YOU WHAT THE FILM IS ABOUT! The Polish titles ‘Lovers Without Memories’ and ‘Android Hunter’ leave very little to the imagination. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you have a translator with very little imagination…

So, for anyone who thinks translation is just a case of converting from one language to another, I hope this little analysis shows that it is much more to it than that. Some things don’t translate and those that do need to be guided and considered it make them right. And, most importantly, as a translator, you need to put enough of yourself into the work to give it a cohesive voice and style but without drowning out the original author’s voice and allowing the work to still be very much that of the person who wrote it.

It’s not an easy job to be very good at but when you are very good you end up with clever and beautiful translations. When you are not very good, you end up translating Dirty Dancing as Whirling Sex!

WELCOME TO THE WORLD

Time keeps running against me to do all the things I want to do, like re-record some songs I wrote a while back – but in a way that actually pleases me. But, I did at least get aroud to opening the files the other day and thinking about it.

In doing so, I revisited the favourite song I wrote. It was for a friend’s kid but I really imagined it as a talk I would give to my own kids when they got older and set out on their journey in life. And, quite morbidly, I wanted to record it in case I died before I got to say it to them in person.

As I stand now, at a crossroads in my own career, I’m re-reading it and realising that there is a lot there that I would like to say to myself as a late-teen looking forward to university and starting out on my own career path. Maybe there is something in there too that some of you will look back on and think you had known at that time, when the world was at your feet. Or perhaps you are just starting out?

Either way, here is what I would say to myself about working life, I could do it:

For Ervin

D

Welcome to the world

Where what you give is what you get

And the more that you put out there

The less that you’ll regret

A

But don’t put out too easy

G

And don’t give in too hard

D

Don’t you make that brave mistake

Of ever thinking you’re in charge

Chorus

G D

I won’t tell you about the mistakes that I have made

F

Make your own

A

Make ‘em big

D

But be safe

Verse 2

Welcome to the world

Where there’s so much to know

You’ll beg for people’s attention

Then you’ll pray they let you go

Don’t make friends too easy

Don’t fall out too much

Don’t go burning bridges

Cos you don’t wanna lose touch

Chorus

I won’t tell you about the mistakes that I have made

Make your own

Make ‘em big

But be safe

Verse 3

Welcome to the world

Where you’re sure to change your mind

You’ll wanna grow up faster

Then you’ll wanna turn back time

Don’t live in the future

Don’t dwell on the past

Don’t forget that the here and now

Is the only thing that lasts

Chorus x 2