What would you do differently if you had to do it all over again? The problem with that question is that I would have to repeat all my mistakes until it got to 1980, because I have to be in a coffee bar in Preston to meet Julia, and I don’t want to change that.
I would probably have to endure the next nine years too, as if we’d got married earlier it might not have lasted. I can’t be sure, but there’s no point in taking chances.
From 1989 I can start changing things, but by then it might be a little late to suddenly become hard-working, successful and professional.
That is the problem with these going back in time things – changing the good things along with the bad.
Sometimes, when I allow myself to daydream, I am wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches and looking out of my office window into the quadrangle of an ancient university. On my desk are the proofs of my latest groundbreaking study of civil disorder in the 19th Century (Men in Skirts – the History of the Rebecca Riots or some such popular history).
However, would I be happy? Probably. Would I be prepared to swap my life now for the one of which I dream? Of course I would. I’m not stupid.
I am, however, a hopeless romantic and wouldn’t change a thing if it meant not being married to Julia. She has a very important place in my life, like the auriga in Ancient Rome, standing behind me and reminding me that I am mortal. Or, in our case, that I am an idiot and that I shouldn’t really use that sort of language to other drivers. It’s much the same, just updated.