It grabbed me yesterday, a steely hand sharply twisting and knotting my intestines, as I looked at the BBC news website. The Baftas report included a picture of someone I used to know, someone I had trained with, someone I used to share a lift to shorthand classes with, someone who had just won a Bafta for their journalistic endeavours.
It doesn’t have to be an awards ceremony: switch on the local TV news, and there is another one I trained with. See the reporter on the celluloid version of Calendar Girls? Her too. That TV continuity announcer? I worked with her; the Radio 1 newsreader? Ditto.
Then there is the woman I went to university with, the one that was on the edge of my circle and is now a big noise in regional BBC programming. The one that was invited to our house Christmas dinner out of pity, then sat prodding her nut-cutlet while treating us to a graphic description of how turkeys were slaughtered. Once, she visited a newsroom where I worked; I kept my head down, but noticed the elfin crop and pale blue eye makeup hadn’t changed since 1988.
I no longer beat myself up with thoughts of “that could’ve been me”. Now, I know why it isn’t: I am not terribly good at pushing myself forward in a professional capacity and I like to have a life outside of work.
But, like the Murphy’s, I’m not bitter. The boil is lanced ... for now.