Life, for most of us, is a messy mixture of success, failure and downright ordinariness.
There is no special desire on my part to dwell on the middle bit of that list; it is just that when I think of my young days in the North East, the failures stand out rather more prominently than the humdrum, and much more so that success.
That introduction could have led into any one of several topics. Schooldays, despite what has already appeared at Salut! North, could be explored further. So could the process by which I came to realise I was unlikely, after all, to play for Sunderland. What about those feeble early attempts to attract girlfriends?
All in good time. For now, let me tell the sad rags-to-rags story of the North Eastern Programme Club.
This was the project that was going to be my equivalent of the Richard Branson boyhood acquisition of business acumen. He grew Christmas trees and raised budgerigars; I would buy and sell football programmes. And I would rope in my great friend Pete Sixsmith to share in the meteoric rise to prosperity that I knew lay ahead.
It was all those advertisements in Charlie Buchan's Football Monthly that fired our imagination. Page after page of offers, good prices being demanded for back numbers of the programmes sold at most football matches in the land. Why, we thought, shouldn't we muscle in on the trade?
Somewhere in my basement in France is a file called Shildon or NE Programme Club in which can still be found the letterheads we had printed and copied. The "office" of this establishment was given as 7 Drybourne Avenue, Shildon - where I lived - and the names of Colin Randall and Pete Sixsmith appeared, at the foot of the page I believe, as proprietors.
Capital investment in the project, it should be admitted straight away, was on the low side. Our combined pocket money and paper round earnings were not quite sufficient to give us a sound financial footing. We were not to be deterred. We had vision, enthusiasm and a self-evidently hungry market to feed.
So off went the letters to Man Utd, Arsenal, Sunderland, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Wolves and the rest. Dozens of them were posted to all the top clubs to ask what they would charge for unsold copies.
Replies, to be completely honest, were hardly encouraging. In fact, some clubs didn't bother to reply at all. Others would point out that they already had perfectly acceptable contracts with some of those brash outfits we'd seen in the Football Monthly. And a few came back with offers to sell, invariably requiring a commitment, in terms of the number of programmes they expected us to buy, that was simply beyond us.
Our sights dropped lower. Was it Dundee, or Dundee United or maybe even Aberdeen that finally came back with an affordable deal? My parents' garage, long since cleared of the one car to have occupied it, became the NE Programme Club warehouse, stocking hundreds and hundreds of virtually unmarketable Scottish programmes.
One or two other clubs - Preston North End and Chelsea stick out in the memory for some reason, too - also showed interest, and we were able to add to our wares.
How to sell them was the next poser. I think a second pal, Geoff Carnan, far too sensible to become involved more deeply, was persuaded to lend the cost of advertising in the magazine. I cannot remember what interest rate he settled on, but this was a minor concern as we sat back awaiting the avalanche of orders.
Pete and I had loads of programmes in our own collections, which were raided in order to make up "surprise packages" that were still, oddly enough, dominated by unfashionable North-east Scotland clubs.
The Football Monthly readership was slow to react. The orders did not flood in. They didn't even trickle. By the time our second advertisement had appeared, it was clear that our range of programmes had not exactly reached must-have levels of appeal.
Worse was to come, and this may well have been the fatal blow to our entrepreneurial spirit. Pete's mum found out what we were up to. With stern warnings about Colin's "bad influence" - I was, after all, the lad down the street who had been kicked out of grammar school - she wisely ordered her son to stage a boardroom defection.
And very soon, the North Eastern Programme Club was dead, leaving behind a mountain of unwanted programmes, piles of redundant letterheads, a short trail of disgruntled purchasers and a debt to poor old Geoff that was large enough to take me weeks, if not longer, to clear.
It was enough to show that I was probably not destined to become a captain of industry. But was I defeated too easily? If only I had known of young Branson's exploits down south; the Christmas trees and budgies, it seems, were hardly more successful than my football programmes.
Why didn't I persevere? I, too, might have gone on to run a chain of record stores and launch an airline. Pete's mum would have come round in time. But then again, in our hands, those businesses would also have collapsed, whether or not run from Drybourne Avenue.
Let's be realistic. There was not much of a market for the dodgy folk records we'd have tried to sell. As for the airline, we would never have latched on to the fact that the obvious way to make money is to make people fly with knees forced up into their chins by the closeness of the seats in front.