The amount of times I have had to explain about wealth in relation to inflation and relative cost of living has been pretty countless since I moved to the Philippines. The majority of people who understand what it really means are either Expats themselves or/are OFW`s. I will be the first to admit I have a fairly good standard of living and our life here in the Philippines is not only a lot more stable than others but expanding financially aswell as venture wise. What a lot of people don’t understand is my background. My father was in the Army and I got to travel around the world to where my father was stationed along with my siblings and mother. Army life is an experience that doesn’t really match with civilian life as your used to working together and your friendships are generally for life. The majority of my friends were in the same situation although when we lived in Germany we had a large mix of local friends aswell. Life in a military family also means things like schooling is at army schools which to be honest its not until you experience “general” UK schooling that you realise how much higher the standards at the Army schools are. I’m not talking financial but just how the schools operate and standards of education. We eventually moved back to the UK in 1989 when I undertook my last year of school and exams. Big problem with that was most of my subjects were different and learned what most students had been doing for 2 years in 6 months. After leaving school I then moved into Youth Training and became an electronics engineer working for a cowboy outfit A.S. Alarms with my old boss Barry Smith who eventually spent some time in prison for paying for contracts with brown envelopes. He got rid of me on my second year because I wanted a full-time salary as at that time a long time friend of mine now Ken was employed to drive me round as I could install the systems were Ken had no electronic/electrical background and I was too young to drive. He is the only person I know who everyone literally hated. When he went to jail I received phone calls off different people happy to see him jailed. Which was many years on by then. After I finished my electronics I then went back to college and studied again micro processing paying my way by working in a nightclub several nights a week.
I wont give you too much of the boring details but after my electronics I went back to study Carpentry and Joinery as I had become a cabinet maker during the recession of the early 90s. It was also a hard time family wise as my father had come out of the army and was struggling to find work. Especially in the Worcester area which as a farming City has very low salaries which is why to this day I generally work in Birmingham or London areas. The salary difference can often be 2 or 3 times that of Worcester. I remember these times very well as I was flat broke financially most of it. Doing a lot of crap jobs and getting through college. Having my own flat (apartment) and sometimes having to miss meals for 2 – 3 days so that I could pay the rent.
It was during this period that I then re-trained as a Business + Bar manager at the same time as going through my worst times in my life with the ex from hell. Looking back I just think she was plain crazy and I am glad our paths haven’t crossed for over a decade. Why bar management? Simply because I couldn’t find work so the governments solution is to stick you on training courses (If you want to learn). Which I was trying hard to do anything to find work. I always remember college days of not having enough petrol to go to college and back so used to park halfway and walk the rest each day.
By the time I met Peggy who is my ex-girlfriend of 11 years things had started to improve and generally work was getting easier to find and the long hours began I was a carpenter for a company that built houses in flat pack form that was erected on site. It was at Purpose Built in Malvern I started to get the real taste of hard work and money. Working overtime each day and weekends I was already earning 3 x that of most of my friends and generally I have been the same upto date. I work an average of 16 hours a day and 7 days a week if its available. When I’m in the Philippines I’m sitting doing things like this at 3am because I struggle to switch off.
Am I lucky? If I filled in a lot of the hard times above you would see more of a Dickens novel life has been pretty hard over the years and everything I have I gained through hard work. There was no silver spoon in my mouth and its the fact I will brush myself off when things go wrong and get back up again to fight another day. I don’t think luck played a part of my working career but it did play a part in how I met my wife April. There were times in my life before which edged on suicide to get out of my hell of a life. Some people would say that is the easy option but its only from experience of those thoughts its more to do with lost hope and despair. If I was someone considering it now I would just say get back up and brush yourself off. When things get really bad polish off a bottle of brandy to forget and go back to life in the morning.. with a clear mind. There is always something round the next corner and if you put the work in you will get the rewards out. It doesn’t always come quickly but it will eventually arrive.