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June 2019 - Year 21 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

An Origin Story

In the world of superheroes, an origin story explains how a character got his or her superpower. You may recall, for example, how Peter Parker became Spider-man after being bitten by a radioactive arachnid.

Recently, a participant on my Storytelling Membership pointed out that teachers also have origin stories. (Looking at you Damien!) Does that mean that we too are superheroes?

So today, for the first time in a long time, I thought that I would share mine.

It was 1994 and I had just completed a biochemistry degree at Aberdeen University in Scotland. Here is my graduation photograph – possibly the only picture that I have of me in a kilt.

Although I loved the subject of biochemistry, I was never really cut out to work in a laboratory. My heart just wasn't in it.

On top of that, I was also quite careless and clumsy. I hate to think of all the nasty things that might have got into my body if I had gone into biological research. Who knows what kind of superhero I might have become. E. coli man perhaps?

The other problem was that I was fighting with an overwhelming desire to follow a passion that I'd had since I was a teenager: to become a musician.

As a teenager, I had discovered blues piano. As a student, I had got into a band. And now, as a biochemistry graduate, I decided that it was time to follow my dreams and study music formally.

My parents were a bit confused. My dad tried to talk me out of turning my passion into my career. But there was no stopping me. And between 1994 and 2000, I studied piano at Leeds College of Music in North Yorkshire, UK.

For the first few years, I supported myself by working as a barman in a city pub. Then I put a band together, imaginatively called The Keddie Trio, and we started to play gigs around the city.

In 2000, I finished my studies. And to pay off my debt, I started working on a ship as a musician.

Here I am getting warmed up for an evening of entertainment on board a ferry which ping-ponged between Hull (UK) and Bruges (Belgium).

As you can probably see, this wasn't the most glamorous musician's job in the world. But I remember being pretty content as a fledgling singer-pianist. And the more I worked, the larger my repertoire of pop, blues, and jazz standards became.

But then one day, everything changed. I started to get pains in my arms and eventually, these moved to my hands and fingers. This got so bad that I had to leave the ship to see a doctor. He confirmed that I was suffering from repetitive strain injury (RSI), caused by over playing.

I had to take 6 months off. I went back to Scotland to stay with my parents. I was a bit miserable and my mum suggested that I "do one of those English teaching courses."

So that's exactly what I did – I came to Barcelona and did a CertTESOL at a teacher training centre called Oxford House. And from there, I jumped ship.

Although I could have returned to music, possibly in a more glamorous Caribbean setting, my passion moved to teaching, to writing, to training, to conferencing, to storytelling.

And here I am.

Unfortunately, I am not very good at multitasking passions, and since 2003, I have hardly touched a piano. This means that I have lost virtually all of my musical repertoire.

Although this might seem like a sad story, I am very happy that things have worked out this way. My repertoire of songs has been replaced by a repertoire of stories. And who knows – perhaps one day I will combine the two, although I have no idea how.

Incidentally, this is the only picture I have of me with an audience.

I don't know who the man is. But I am quite sure that from time to time, he thinks about me and the performance that I gave that night.

Tagged  Voices 
  • In Memoriam: Remembering Michael Lewis
    Hugh Dellar, UK

  • On Humanising and Language and Teaching
    Edwin Salter, UK

  • Why I Don’t Write To Publish
    Rozaliya Ziryanova, Uzbekistan

  • Is English Only Comprehensible Input?
    Brooks Slaybaugh, Japan

  • An Origin Story
    Jamie Keddie, Spain