Bringing down the career curtain

Exactly one year ago this week, I hung up my headphones, flicked the On Air switch off, picked up my P45, and headed out of the door at the great glass shoebox that is BBC Scotland’s Pacific Quay HQ.

It was a momentous milestone in my working life, one which made me feel very weird and wobbly at the time. Walking through the exit door with nothing but a cardboard box full of notepads, a battered mousemat, a coffee cup, a dictionary, two packets of paracetamol and an emergency sewing kit didn’t seem like much to show for a 15 year career in broadcasting.

The fact that my exit was made at the same time as a mass walk out for strike action was in some ways appropriate for this fully paid up union activist, but I was ever so slightly peeved that my thunder was well and truly stolen in the name of collective bargaining (whether there would’ve been any actual thunder to steal is a moot point, but you know what I mean).

As I cleared my desk and logged off for the last time as a member of BBC staff, I did feel strangely disembodied from the reality of the situation. It was an uncomfortably numb me that walked down the BBC’s huge sandstone staircase with the refrain of “and now, the time has come” running around my head. Then came a mounting wave of panic as I realised I was actually about to face the final curtain.

As I walked the last few steps towards the outside world, shrugging off a career that had once been the very pinnacle of my ambition, I was absolutely bricking it.

Which is a bit weird ‘cos it was me that did the shrugging. No-one made me call it quits. I didn’t get sacked, wasn’t pushed, and didn’t have my arm twisted up my back. But believe me, those final few minutes were really, really rough.

Still, I plastered on a smiley face and made like everything was brave new world. But a couple of hours later, once the picket line had fizzled out, and Elvis and everyone else had left the building, there I was, clutching my cardboard box, bawling my eyes out in the car park.

The tears dried up quite quickly, but it took a lot longer to get over the sense of shock, because make no mistake kids, taking the plunge is positively petrifying.

But if you’re really unhappy, fed up with your lot, or feeling unloved and unfulfilled; if you’re raging against the machine, being swamped by stress or sacrificing your health in the name of the 9-5, surely there comes a point when you just gotta jump? You’ll be surprised how many good folk will help break the fall.

Raising the curtain on a new career ain’t plain sailing, no siree. And self-employment isnae a skoosh either. But believe me, it’s a waaaayyyyy better, on every single level.

So one year on, and I can honestly say I’ve not looked back in anger, or regret. Not for a single solitary second.