I NOTICED a post from someone on Twitter the other night. It simply said: “You meet your 15-year-old self. You are allowed to say three words to them. What do you say?”

It got me thinking a lot about how I was at 15. What would I say to myself if I could somehow go back and have a word with him?

At 15, I wanted more than anything to leave school. I was not a fan of it whatsoever. I thought I had already learned everything I could possibly need to know by the time I hit secondary school. I could do basic sums in my head and for anything more complicated I’d just do what everyone else does and use a calculator. I could read a book and understand it and also make a stab at what the author really meant when they said the character had red curtains or something. I had a basic understanding of politics and was decent at geography. I did not need to know, I often ranted at my maw, how to do long division, how ox bow lakes were formed or what a covalent bond was.

These things I was spending my days learning about, these reserves of knowledge I was building, would never, ever be needed in a real working environment. What I needed to be learning about, I often thought, was how to get a job, how to manage money, how to rent a flat while saving up to try and buy a house, how to drive, how to conduct yourself at work, etc.

I had no interest in continuing my education, I just wanted to get into the real world and get a job. When I went back to school after the summer holidays and went into fifth year, I told my maw and my teachers that I’d be leaving school at Christmas. I was doing one higher, English, after some underwhelming exam results. My English teacher said to me I should consider sticking it out for the rest of fifth year at least, getting a good result in the English exam and then apply for uni. I couldn’t think of anything worse. What kind of job would I get with a degree in English? Become a writer?! Don’t think so, mate.

I often found myself daydreaming at school, ignoring the information given to me by teachers that I’d never be tested on as I’d be long gone before the exams. Fantasising that by the time my pals left uni, I’d already be some millionaire CEO, sitting in an office in New York overlooking Central Park.

I had to do two sessions of PE a week. Table tennis was the designated sport for a few weeks and I saw absolutely no point in taking part. “I’ve forgot my stuff,” I’d say to the PE teacher. “That’s like five weeks in a row, Chris,” he said. “This is getting beyond a joke. If you forget again you’re getting a letter sent home.” The following week I had a pantomime limp and a letter from home saying that I’d “tore a ligament playing football”. Incredibly, the teacher seemed to believe the note, written by me of course, and allowed me to sit it out for the next wee while.

Homework became a complete non-issue to me. I saw no point in spending my free time doing equations and writing about photosynthesis or mitochondria so I just didn’t do it. I had a brilliant tactic for getting away with not doing my homework. I’d make sure to go and see the teacher who’d gave me it at a break or at lunch, before the class, and explain to them that I’d done the homework but forgot to lift it and that I could go home at lunchtime and get it

for them.

“No, you don’t have to do that!” they’d often say in a sympathetic tone. “You’ll miss out on our lunch. Just bring it tomorrow, thanks for coming to see me.” Hook, line and sinker every time.

After reflecting on my disastrous fifth year at school, I started to think about what would happen if I’d saw my current, 28-year-old self approaching me.

“You look a bit like me,” 15-year-old me would say. “But your hair’s a bit mental looking. I don’t like the weird wee tache either.”

“Listen,” I’d say to myself. “I’ve no got a lot of time but aye, am you. Noo listen, stop messing aboot. Stay oan at school. Dae well at higher English, go tae uni, study creative writing and in a few year ye’ll have a book ae daft wee stories oot. Awrite? Ye’ll even be writing fur a paper. But listen, nae matter wit, don’t apply fur a joab in Subway cause ye’ll be tempted, but ye’ll hate it. I guarantee it.”

Before I transported myself back to the present, I’d leave my 15-year-old self with one last piece of wisdom: “2020 is gonnae be a tough year, make sure ye’ve goat a hoose wi a gairden before then.”