Robert Hampton

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25th March 2013

There’ll always be something here

Hampo wins the prizeThis is the last “review of the decade” blog (thank goodness, I hear you say).

While previous posts have been about things I’ve done, places I’ve seen or comments I’ve made, this last one is about something more straightforward.

This post is about me.

When I started the blog, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with it, just as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. There’s a stereotype about men in their twenties – they’re cocky, have a bit of a swagger to them and think they know everything. In March 2003 I was 20 years old and I was none of these things.

Three years earlier I had walked out of school mid-way through Sixth Form, because I was completely unable to cope with the pressure I was under. In the process I surprised my friends and disappointed my family. By leaving education and not doing my A-Levels, I had torpedoed – or so I thought at the time – any chance of a proper career or life for myself. I also cut myself off from the few friends I had made at school, so I was pretty much alone.

If you want evidence of my state at the time, go to the first blog from 22nd March 2003 (which, annoyingly, is numbered 2, but that’s a consequence of the way I transferred everything from Movable Type to WordPress).

Anyway, three years later and its time to answer that other question people have been asking: “what are you doing now?”. Up till now I’ve frustrated them by deliberately dodging the question. My reason for doing this is simple: the answer is: nothing

That’s right. For nearly two years since That Fateful Day, I lost all interest. I stopped updating my web site and eventually just took it down. To keep my parents quiet, I applied for jobs, but wasn’t too bothered about passing the interview. For months I didn’t even bother signing on for Jobseeker’s Allowance; it seemed a bit dishonest to describe myself as a Jobseeker.

Young Person's PhotocardThis is not the blog of a happy person, and the early years are characterised by the occasional maudlin moment:

You know, I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy. I mean really happy, not the sort of happiness that comes at someone else’s expense, or the fleeting feeling of cheerfulness when you hear a funny joke on TV.

Where does one go to find happiness? I’ve been searching for years without any success, so if anyone knows, please let me in on the secret. 🙁

I wasn’t above the odd expression of frustration either:

Please fuck off.

That is all.

There’s a lot less of that in the blog these days, and I think that’s for the best. These days I have a group of friends to whom I can vent my frustrations, and if Scott or Andrew aren’t around, I can have a good moan on Twitter, secure in the knowledge that it will vanish and be forgotten about, rather than indexed by Google for all time.

In fact, I must have been worried about being indexed, because for a short time in 2008 I blocked the blog from search engines. I had a change of heart a few weeks later, but it was enough to destroy my Google page ranking. Bah.

Slowly, however, things began to change. Sometimes it was things that didn’t seem significant at the time. In the summer of 2003 I joined a gym. I was fearful, with memories of awful school PE lessons lurking in the background. But I went, and it was good. Ten years later, and I am still going to that same gym. Not sure how effective it’s been at losing weight (my original goal) – despite being jubilant at sinking below the “pyschologically important” 90kg barrier, I have hovered around that level ever since. However, being healthy was, for the first time, something I did as part of my regular routine (occasional trips to the Lobster Pot notwithstanding).

One thing which made a big difference was moving house, from Dingle (a wretched hive of scum and villainy) to Aigburth. Being able to venture out at night (and during the day, for that matter) without fear was a huge relief.

I was noticeably camera shy for the first years of the blog. The picture on the right is from December 2005 and is the first time my face graced the blog. Until then, my self-esteem was so low that I considered myself too ugly for the web. On the other hand, looking at this photo, maybe I should have been a bit more camera shy.

By 2007, however, I was a bit less afraid to have my picture on screen, and even bought a camcorder to enable me to start videoblogging. That was December 2007, and just four short years later, I actually made one.

Throughout the blog, interspersed with stories about awkward conversations in a newsagent’s and reports on getting a new kitten, there is a ten-year-long story of a man making real progress in his life. There have been setbacks (getting pickpocketed on a night out was unpleasant) but overall the trajectory is definitely upward.

The best part of going through the blog archives has been seeing the first mentions of people whom I have now come to know as friends – Scott, Dave, Andrew, Ian, Mark, Jamie, Nuno. That’s in addition to people I know from school (Seb) and people I met through work (Avril, Karl). My life is approximately 99% less shit than it used to be, but when times do get tough, I now know that I don’t have to face it alone.

Brummers Andrew Bromage

Mark on the train Robert and Nuno in a bar

The end result of all this was that by the time I turned thirty last year, I was feeling pretty good about things:

Today has brought home that I’m surrounded by people who care about me. Whatever else happens (or doesn’t), I’ll always have that. Suddenly, growing old (dis)gracefully doesn’t seem so bad after all.

It’s taken a long time, and a lot of hard work (not to mention a long course of professional therapy) but I feel like I am on the way to where I want to be.

Of course, there’s still more I want to do – a change of career, some academic qualifications, that sort of thing. There are references in the archives to writing TV scripts – I tried it, but it got filed in the “too hard” category. I want to try again soon, though.

I still live with my parents at the age of 30 – that’s embarrassing – but I can see myself finally moving out in the next 18 months or so.

Littered throughout the archives every so often are posts where I think out loud about closing the blog. These always coincide with periods where I have been lacking inspiration, motivation or energy. The last one was as recent as November 2012, in fact.

I can’t forecast for certain what will happen in the future. Right now, however, I couldn’t possibly contemplate shutting the blog down. It is far too important to me, and far too much fun to write, to even think about stopping. To quote from my own archives: “Blogging is slightly addictive – but so is wanking”.

In fact, I already have a backlog of six or seven posts to write on various topics, which I will be churning out over the next week or so.

To all of my regular readers – whether you’ve been here for the full ten years or discovered it more recently – thank you. I hope I can keep you interested and entertained during the next ten years and beyond.

Web Site Screenshots 2003 - 2013
2003 — 2013

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One Response
  1. Comment by Ian
    25th March 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Nice one, Robert. As Danny Baker cried on an edition of Telly Addicts in 1994: “10 more years!”