My life has been driven by ambition, most of which I've achieved. Here's the metaphorical stepladder:
To be a hack (ie, a bottom-feeding journalist). Defined by the ability to type a 1000-word original article in one hour. Skill acquired in two years.
To be a sportsman manqué. Thus: a rock climber who fears heights, a cyclist too overweight to ride uphill, a clumsy skier, a swimmer with an irrational fear of suffocation. All goals reached quickly and effortlessly.
To be middle class. A 1930s semi in Kingston-upon-Thames almost confirmed this; a four-bedroom house in Hereford with three toilets ensured it.
To be thought foreign. Instantly achieved in Pittsburgh, Pa. More meritoriously when I was diagnosed as German while speaking French in France.
To be regarded as sexually desirable. By women if possible; by fellas and animals if not. Project stalled as researchers look for ever more sensitive equipment capable of measuring tiny amounts of data.
To be labelled intellectual. For me, the ability - and the desire - to analyse and discuss abstract rather than material matters. Thus the serial killer, instead of talking about guns, rope, knives and victims, alludes to the rewards of his art form.
This appears problematic. Having read Robert Muesil, heard Elliott Carter, tiled the bathroom with Rothko colours and eschewed Strictly Come Dancing I was mildly optimistic. However lack of formal education is holding me back. I cannot easily recall the date of the 1832 Reform Act, I suffer dreadfully from long A vs. short A discrimination, and have only eaten meat loaf, never having expected it to issue from a loudspeaker.
I will, however, persist. I am buying a bust of Goethe (death mask left) and I intend to add analects (sparingly) to stews.