I suppose if you went through the rule book strictly, I'd have already drifted into sacking territory a number of times. Today, though, is the day for arguably my worst offence. I was baptised in Pakistan. Most people who went drinking with me in university know this: for reasons unknown, when steaming I had a habit of telling strangers the fact and when they inevitably didn't believe me, I called my mother who would inevitably be working nightshift to verify the story. It was a strange chat-up line, no doubt.
It was, however, true. I've never found out as much as I'd like about those sketchy days, and had intended to do a chunk of my own investigating back where they were working in my infancy. That was, of course, until Pakistan imploded and the US started bombing the north of the country. Perhaps one day I'll make it back to the Tarbela Dam, but in the mean time I've decided to track down my godparents who I haven't seen since I was a baby. Having spent a number of years working around the world, they settled in Pittsburgh in the early 1990s. I got in touch with them before I left and they were happy to meet me; so far as the office knows, I'm still in Chicago.
With everyone out of town or working, I'm picked up at the airport by a family friend and left to potter around the house for a few hours. To my surprise, a mask of professionalism takes hold and I use the time to write my piece. With the right editing, it may well be the best thing I've written since moving. It'll doubtless be denounced as boring.
Then my godparents arrive. Much of the detail about the visit is either personal or wholly uninteresting to outsiders, so I'll be brief: they live in a beautiful house in a wooded suburb and are even warmer and lovelier than I could reasonably have expected. When I find out my godfather is a Charles Bukowski and John Fante fan, I know beyond doubt that I'm in the right place.
I question him on the brief time he knew my parents, but more intently on what it's been like to spend a life moving around the world for work, taking opportunities as the arose, deciding when to leap and when to stay. He talks and talks and as he does so an image builds in my mind of a man standing at the top of hill looking down. Rather than hesitate or fret, he starts running. Faster and faster he runs, never stopping, always moving towards the unknown. I'm not sure if the man is me or him, but for a few months now I've had a feeling that my next full time job won't be in the UK. Speaking to my godfather, though he doesn't know it, has probably confirmed that.