There are of course the obvious ones – I regret ever starting smoking, I regret eating so much and exercising so little and I regret not being better with money.
I regret being an indifferent husband, a bad father and an ungrateful child.
Most of all, in this miserable, whining list, I regret not being able to make Julia see my marriage potential when we first met. It took me nine years to persuade her, though as she points out, it might have been easier to persuade her if I’d adopted a life of seclusion, sobriety and celibacy. I, in turn, point out that if she’d married me I wouldn’t have needed the wine, women and song to dull the pain of rejection. I am not by nature, introspective or pale and interesting.
To this day, after 30 years of marriage, she remains unimpressed by my explanation.
I was born too late to drive a Bentley Speed Six or fly a Sopwith Camel and I didn’t realise you could use a metal detector to find gold in Australia until it was too late. On the other hand, in the absence of parachutes and decent brakes, my regrets are tinged with a feeling of relief.
As for Australia, my suspicions about snakes and spiders mean I am not fully committed to the idea of wandering round with a metal detector, regardless of the possibilities.
You can, after all, find gold in Scotland if you are prepared to brave a cold river.
Finally, I confess that although I did many things I would come to regret, my main regrets are about chances I didn’t take, challenges I ducked and opportunities I missed. There is probably a good quote about this somewhere on the net, but at the moment all I can think of is “A man who never made a mistake never made anything.”
It doesn’t quite fit the subject, but it does provide a good place to break off. And it’s probably a good place to put regrets into perspective. It’s all very well looking back, wondering about “what ifs” and plotting different courses for my life, but it all points to one thing. Destiny needed me to be in Preston on a particular day in 1980. I was there. And I’ve never regretted it.