I’m in the back room of my failing retail shop in Flemington. It’s been cluttered for months since the break-in. My partner, Anh is visiting his home in Vietnam.

There will be no customers coming in the door – I could go days with no customers.

Before Anh left, we visited an escape room. It’s an interesting business idea – you just layout a room and puzzles, then invite people to pay for the challenge of completing it. I’ve been cooking up an idea in my infinite free time…

I’m going to convert my shop into an escape room. To capitalise on both its location in Flemington and the fact that spring racing occurs near Halloween, I’m going to design an escape room around the idea of a zombie horse apocalypse. You see, Phar Lap’s little jockey took the death of the horse quite bad. He became a mad scientist and re-engineered Phar Lap’s mighty heart into a superior, human-eating horse zombie.

The back room at the shop will be my test chamber. I’m going to get it all set up just in time for my 30th birthday in a week’s time. I’ve even bought some smart light bulbs, and programmed them to do lightning flashes and heartbeats in JavaScript. I’ve been shopping online for Nerf Guns (dart guns), Meat Syringes, dental mirrors, triangle mirrors, necklaces, a metal bucket, and more.

As I’m halfway through cleaning the room, I come across an audio casette. I know what it is, and why I’ve kept it so long – it’s got recordings of my voice as a tiny kid, singing nursery rhymes and yelling at my brother. I’ve held onto it through my 18th and 21st birthday, because I planned to play it back and laugh with my family. I just never did that.

I dig out an old stereo, slot in the casette, gently push it closed and press play.

Radio commercials from the 1990s and power ballads emerge from the speakers. I rewind and play, rewind and play, conscious of how precious the tape is, and careful not to damage it.

Found it, my kid voice. Singing Agadoo, a weird song about pineapples.

I lose it. Crying like a man baby.

Suddenly reflecting on all the time since that voice was recorded, to now, almost 30 years old, at the back of a failing shop. I never wrote a book. I never became a scientist, or an archaeologist, or a hairdresser, or a magician, or a playground designer.

I’m just a 29 year old nothing.

The escape room is stupid. The zombie horse drawing is awesome, but the idea is stupid.

I’ve been fixated on it because it’s selling an experience. I’m so over selling things, like clothing and boots, all made in China, cheaper and cheaper every day. If I sell an experience, I have full control.

So I look up Event Management degrees. I find a course at my local university – so convenient. I begin planning how I’m going to tell my partner and family that I’m returning to university – again, for a fifth time, in my 30s.