Quite a milestone today in that this business, Get Pro Copy Ltd, turns 4

Its genesis came about at a low point in my personal and professional life, when it became obvious that I had to find something new to do to save my sanity, and writing was the plan.

I’ve always loved writing

From the age of four, I was an avid reader and writer and it was something I did well. I’ve always had a microscopic talent with spelling and writing mawkish poems about family and home were my first forays into the written word.

We were lucky then too in 1969 and 1970 as teachers were plentiful, happy in their jobs and so keen to nurture the young people in their charge. School was wonderful back then.

It’s why I snort when I read objections to Ofsted being abolished – Ofsted and the Academy programme have dismantled education piece by piece and I doubt now that some 4 year old in 2019 would have their enthusiasm fired up like we did. Staff who were stable and permanent.

Education, in my view, is broken.

Childhood

I had very little appetite for playing out as I had zero energy – from undiagnosed coeliac disease which was only sorted at 38 years old. Gluten allergy if you’re wondering. My childhood was largely spent at school or at home reading novels, short stories and poetry avidly.

Took English Literature at A level and degree and after my PGCE, spent 27 years teaching English and Drama – most of which were great times.

Before the Academy shite began obviously.

When heads became power mad and all accountability disappeared.

Get Pro Copy was born 1st November 2015

As I sat at home for a couple of months, nursing depression and treating it with binge drinking, I decided to make a living from writing. You know all that stuff about doing something you love and not working? Writing and reading is the stuff that makes me tick. Writing is pleasurable, cathartic and utterly engrossing to me. An idea was born.

A slow burner

I was very lucky to have supportive friends and immediate family when I was thrown under a bus, not once but twice in the later stages of my teaching career. I managed to pick up a few clients in the first year and take on some social media management – I’m still grateful for Stephen and Julia and others for their faith in me; two I still work with.

It started to grow, just as my consumption of alcohol did, until, another milestone, 19th December 2016, I was forced to stop drinking for good.

That and a letter on 21st December exonerating me and admitting it was an almighty stitch up was a turning point.

I knew teaching was over

That letter that landed that day, after I’d paid a barrister to support me, was joyous. I felt like getting drunk – but I’d been forced to stop and rightly so, with hindsight.

But without the albatross of education and the sticking plaster of alcohol, I was now utterly focused on business.

Get Pro Copy grew wings

I’m on a bit of a metaphorical high now as I’m typing this and intend to exploit the wings analogy fully. I was out of a cage, a trap, the door was now open and I could fly. Stop. I know. But my point is this – without the burden of the past and the weight of alcoholism, I could begin throwing off the shackles of depression and focus on the future.

Now don’t get me wrong, bitterness still hangs around me: I’ll never forget or forgive those people, but getting a dog in 2017, adopting healthy lifestyle habits like swimming and walking, casting off bellend bosses and colleagues was utterly liberating.

Get Pro Copy went Ltd

In 2017, Get Pro Copy became a Ltd Company with me as its sole director.

In 2018, it expanded from copywriting and social media marketing to web design.

After a year in a web partnership, I decided to fly solo (last bird reference I promise).

The income of teaching was smashed in 2018 to 2019 and baller status was confirmed when Chris my accountant advised me registering for VAT.

Not bad for a depressed alcoholic, washed out car crash of a man who had a year off work and earned £25 in month one – November 2015.

The future

Like my rescue border collie, Cassie, I practise mindfulness. She doesn’t think back (I hope) to the abuse and neglect she suffered. She lives for the present – walking, lying near me in my lovely home office and a daily Groundhog ritual of chasing (and failing to catch) squirrels in Bluebell Woods.

I have set up an estate agency, Nest in Norfolk, and that’s doing well.

I still offer consultancy services to English departments locally (nice ones only mind) and mark GCSE English exams. Not as much now but it’s a skill I’m great at, after 27 years of red pen action.

I’ve become obsessed and driven by this business and Nest in Norfolk, which I’m not sure is that healthy – but I do genuinely love what I do now daily.

In April 2020, I officially retire from teaching (which I did really 4 years ago) and grab a tasty lump sum that will keep me in San Pellegrino, bougie meals out and Apple gadgets.

Life is sweet

No Mike Leigh irony at all, but life is sweet. I know this business has a future; I’m happy again and though I’d love a nice glass of red wine, an ice laden gin and tonic, a gluten free lager, I know that is the past and like Cassie, I try now to live only in the present and the near future.

Dogs are a great teacher.

Thanks too to everyone who has supported me on this journey – Paul, Miranda, my children, my uber supportive and loving wife, Tricia, as well as former colleagues and ex students who still trust me to design their websites, write blogs for, and even sell their houses – I kid you not.