Who is the man behind Who Needs Instructions?
After a recent conversation with Barrie from Feasts & Fables (called an ‘Encouragement Session’), he recommended that sharing my story might be useful for you. Not really for myself, but hopefully, this will give you an idea of why I’m doing this, where I’ve come from and where (I think) I’m heading!
So, my name is Matt Young. I was born in Kent in September '72, to an Irish Mother and an English Father. For the first eight years of my life, we lived in a village just outside of Maidstone. My most vivid memories were watching cricket on Sunday afternoons, before heading to the workingman’s club for a warm glass of coke and a game of Asteroids. My Dad kept bees but worked away for weeks at a time, I’m not sure how that worked out. It was a very middle-class upbringing, that I feel was grounded in my Grandparents working class roots; both of my Grandads worked down the docks during their careers.
We emigrated to Canada in 1981 because of dad's job. By then, I was the middle of three kids, with an older sister and a younger brother in tow. My mum has family over there, so we based ourselves near them, just outside of Toronto. My dad was home every evening, a novelty for us as he worked in the oil industry and was normally based away, either in Scotland or Norway. Canada ended up turning into a three-year working trip, which for me, was so exciting at the time but I remember being devastated about 'coming home'.
We returned to the UK just in time for me to attend secondary school (a boy’s grammar in Kent) where I did unremarkably and left at the end of my GCSE's to follow a career in the motor industry, as part of the Youth Training Scheme (YTS, remember that?); I loved cars, still do.
Career-wise, I feel like I’ve had four… or rather, I’m moving in to my fourth, now.
I ventured into car sales more or less straight away in 1989. What follows was a rather patchy era, where my social life was more important than my job, and I never really applied myself in any of my various (and numerous) jobs that I had. In the mid-90's, I fell in love with the idea of working on the radio. So, I got myself trained up and eventually found myself working in the industry; I still do (love it and work in it, that is).
In 2010, the radio industry was shrinking due to consolidation and acquisitions, and opportunities in the Southwest, where I am now based (I moved here in 2002), were becoming harder to come by. My contract at my current station (Heart Exeter) was terminated (along with 150 other presenters across the UK) so I ventured into the online world of social media and websites.
I’ve been actively involved in the social media world ever since, but still dipping my toe back into radio on several occasions between then and now. With Who Needs Instructions though, I feel like I’m now entering my next career mode, career number four.
Having written that down, it feels like my working-life goes in ten-year cycles. That was certainly never my plan, but I can see the pattern. I wonder what I’ll do at 60, retire maybe? That’s very unlikely.
That’s a brief ‘story of my life’ with a LOT of details missing. During that time, I also got married, but I’m now getting divorced. I’ve swum with Dolphins, broadcasted radio shows from Antigua and Wembley and got so drunk, I don’t remember getting home.
Why have I decided to start something as significant as Who Needs Instructions? I’ll be completely honest and say that I don’t have a definitive answer for that. It just feels necessary, and also something that I have to do. I can’t say there was a single moment, an epiphany if you like, that made me think, ‘I must do this’. It’s been at the back of my mind since around 2015, so at least I can say that procrastination has been conquered at last!
So, that’s a little about me, how about you? Tell me something about yourself and let’s get talking.