I have a confession to make. When I left school, other than secretly wanting to study painting, I had no real ambition in life. So I went into 'The City'.
I had no problem finding an employer, and took a job in a highly respected firm of London stockbrokers. I have to admit that I did this solely because I liked the idea of the uniform. I purchased a loud pinstriped suit from my father's city tailor, a slightly furry bowler from Lock's in St James', and a chunky brolly from Swaine, Adeney, Brigg in Piccadilly. I loved it; I became the classic young City dandy with an old-school-tie.
The only problem was the job. Stockbroking is a brainless occupation. One does the work simply to make money; there is no other objective. It drains you of emotion, it kills any desires, it turns you into an automaton.
After my first full year, I learned (much to my surprise) that I was in line for a BONUS, and I received a cheque for TWICE my annual salary; I deposited the cheque, said 'thank you very much', then, with huge relief, I handed in my notice. Almost at once I bought a 'plane ticket for Paris.
I spent a week or so just wandering around; looking at the sights, visiting galleries, admiring the girls. I ate like a king in tiny bistrots, I stayed in an hotel that boasted a couple of 'stars', and I drank wine in bars that had been frequented by famous artists from the impressionist past.
I began to live as one should; thinking about purpose, experiencing the real. My life changed almost at once, and although my sudden freedom had resulted from my temporary City incarceration, I regretted nothing. Maybe it WAS my period of 'misspent youth', but it offered me the chance to look forward. The suit, the hat, and the brolly have stayed locked away for good.