Pete Townshend


I have written letters to my younger self before.

I think I wrote one in 1994. I was forty-nine.

I think I started with the words: don’t worry, everything is going to be okay.

Now I am seventy-five. What will I tell my younger self now? Don’t worry, there’s absolutely no point, it’s all either going to be gold or shit – nothing in between.

But a letter to one’s younger self should not be too clever, or cynical, or even Stoic (in the Roman sense). I was a fabulous infant. Happy. Escape artist. Lived a lot of summers in Butlins Holiday Camps with my musician Dad and singing Mum. No need to write to that infant, he was happy. No point either really, writing to the little boy who was abandoned by his parents at five years old for a couple of years. That was while they worked out their failed marriage – it was a horrible time, but they did work it out in the end and I came home.

So, I write to that boy of seven years old whose parents got back together.

Pete, you’ve lost your mojo. You’ve lost touch with your infant gang. You’ve been devalued. You’ve learned how to lie. You live in a high degree of imagination; some would say you are a fantasist. But all this, all these good early years and bad years that follow, are shaping you. They are making you creative, funny and ambitious.

You know now one thing that is important: your parents probably got back together for you. You certainly are quietly pleased about that, even if they don’t always seem happy together.

It’s not actually all going to be ok, I should never have told you that in my earlier letter.

But you are going to live much longer than you ever expect, or care to, and these years (this era from which I write) will be the best time of your life. Look forward to it. Wait patiently. The good times will come. You will actually still have toys, but you’ll have time to play with them. Most people will like you, and even though some will hate you, or be suspicious of you, you won’t give a damn.

It won’t be perfect, but you won’t want perfection so that’s okay.

It will be interesting. Some days you’ll be really happy, other days you’ll be depressed. Sometimes, rarely, close to suicidal. You don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about do you? My advice to you now, is that the one person who should probably not be writing you a letter, is me. You, me, you, me, you….. etc.

Pete Townshend

Dear Young Me is whynow’s new editorial series where each month you will gain a uniquely personal insight into the retrospective thoughts and feelings of some of the UK’s most well known and influential figures including Michael Caine, Gary Barlow, and Stephen Fry.

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