Choose a sport were you compete, as the lowest tier beginner, with the top rank competitors.

Choose competition with people in New Zealand, Japan, California, Argentina. Choose doing all this from your own living room.

Choose a sport that emphasises co-operation over competition. Choose a sport where Pele needs you to pass to score a goal, where Lance Armstrong needs you to shield him from the wind, and where Mary Decker would have been applauded for an excellent run frequency management strategy.

Choose CW, SSB, or if you suffer from a low-end autistic spectrum disorder, RTTY or some other godforsaken digimode.

Choose a sport where what you know counts for more than how big, strong, fast or good looking you are.

Choose having all that knowledge trumped by someone with a big fat tower and a huge amp who still operates like he's on 27.555. (Ola. Oooooooooola.)

Choose a sport where you can do everything you can to add every last milimicropercentage to your score - and the big, fat, impersonal Sun, 93 million miles, away buggers it up.

Choose a seriously geeky group of friends who spend their lives talking into little mobile phone like devices and soldering, and being considered geeky even among them. Choose none of your work colleagues having the slightest clue about the strange things you do at the weekend.

Choose insomnia being a competitive advantage rather than a psychological disorder. Choose a Beverage not being an alcoholic drink.

Choose propagation paths that open up with a pissy little dipole in your back garden to some exotic Pacific island just for that weekend. Choose a greyline not being a warning of impending middle age. Choose magic E being nothing to do with either learning how to spell or drugs.

Choose competing from a backwoods place like Northern Ireland where no-one knows morse code, and trouncing some much better equipped, more skilled operator just because he mas the misfortune to live in England or Germany.

Chose the two happiest times in your life being 'dawn' and 'dusk'. Choose being unique among your friends in looking forward to late November.

Choose summertime QRN at the bottom of eighty metres, after 39 hours without sleep, with someone obliterating your receiver with key clicks, and choose to enjoy it. Choose frequency fights, choose 250 Hz filters being too wide, choose packet pileups.

Choose your closest non-sexual sensation to an orgasm being when some bloke on the Kermadec Islands sends you a quick blast of numbers in morse code. Choose hardline being nothing to do with sex. Choose sticking two fingers up to your friends because some bloke in Sao Tome and Principe chose your transmission, not theirs, to reply to. Choose being able to find Brunei on a map, and choose knowing that Kerguelen Island exists.

Choose not knowing Jordan is a pop star. Choose knowing Jordan is a relatively rare 3 pointer in Zone 20.

Choose towers, beams, SO2R boxes, stack matches, memory keyers, amplifiers. Choose your credit card feeling the strain of this.

Choose being immune to any form of substance misuse becuase 'heroin', 'cocaine' and 'ecstasy' don't count for multiplier credit.

I could have chosen to have a life. But I chose not to have a life. And the reasons? Who needs reasons when you have contesting.

1 June 2005