Monday 9 November 2020

Reading my way through 'Lockdown' (with Tubular Bells)

Well, the UK is in Covid Lockdown for a month so I am reading lots of autobiographies which I buy second-hand from Amazon. I am interested in reading about the life of entrepreneurs (e.g. some of the stars in 'Dragons Den', Alan Sugar, etc.), scientists (e.g. Richard Feynman) and engineers (e.g. 'Woz') - amongst many others. 

If I had my way, all high-schools should have these types of books on the English Lit. curriculum. They are so inspiring and are much more valuable to any young person than 'Catcher in the Rye' or Shakespeare ever could be. They teach you about real life, proper work ethics and how to take calculated chances when necessary. If you know anyone who is stuck in a 9-5 job and is always moaning about it - then why not give them a good autobiography for Xmas!

It has always been my philosophy in life to do my very best in any job I find myself in. I can remember working as a fruit picker at the age of 16 one summer (piecework!) and cycling 3 miles to the orchards at 6.30am each morning, working all day and cycling home completely exhausted at 6 pm, so tired I could hardly move - BUT I picked just as many apples\pears\plums as the 'professional' itinerant workers did and after a few weeks I was promoted to a group 'supervisor'. 

I was talking to a young boy the other day and he was complaining about having to do very menial tasks around the office where he had just started a temporary job. He had the attitude that it was beneath him - he was not doing a very thorough job and so was getting moaned at by his boss. I pointed out that if HE was an employer and he had one employee like him and another employee that always did the same job perfectly (or even improved on the end result), which one would he pick to promote? Why would he promote someone who could not even do simple tasks well? Equally, if one of his staff constantly showed that they had good organisational skills, clever ideas, always on time, polite, well presented, worked late and never complained - wouldn't he feel that he had to promote them or else risk losing a valuable asset?

At the moment, I am half-way through Richard Branson's very large autobiography 'Losing my virginity' (#Amazon ad link) and am very much enjoying it, having lived through those times (the late 60s onwards) as a teenager/young man. The person who said 'If you can remember the ’60s, you really weren’t there' was probably right - especially if you were a student! I am certainly surprised Richard Branson can remember it all after reading about his recreational experiences in the book (or perhaps he made a few of the things up just to fill in the gaps!).

Richard Branson was apparently hopeless at school and severely dyslexic (especially with maths). He hardly had two O-levels to rub together but he worked hard, told lots of (small) lies to get started in business, took calculated risks and looked after his staff as best he could.

I am just at the part in his autobiography where Branson states that the initial instrument list that Mike Oldfield requested for recording his album (now known as 'Tubular Bells'), actually included tubular bells. However, in the YT video (below), Mike Oldfield implies that their inclusion was serendipitous - he happened to see them being removed from Virgin's Manor recording studio by the previous band and spontaneously asked for them to be taken back inside because he could probably make use of them.. but maybe your take is different...

Our USA cousins may only recognise Tubular Bells as the music that was in 'The Exorcist', but in my day you had to immediately go out and buy the Tubular Bells LP within a week of it's release or you just weren't cool! Every teenager had the Tubular Bells LP cover in his bedroom.

Of course, after watching this YT video, it has now prompted me to listen to the whole Tubular Bells LP again - and it's still great!

P.S. If you can recommend any good autobiographies - please let me know.

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