I have been invited to share some of the things that have shaped me, in order to be known better by colleagues that I haven’t met yet. There will inevitably be some limits to this. But all of this will be true.
- At the age of five I asked if I could have dancing lessons – I knew with a certainty that has never left me that I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I grew up. (I recently turned 50 and still want to be a ballet dancer when I grow up – I’m not joking about that; it is part of my genetic makeup.) My mother didn’t actually say no, she just laughed a bitter laugh. Family life was fuelled by intense love, fun and excitement mixed with stress, lack of money and both parents’ mental health problems. The difficulties that they faced, particularly when I was very young, and the outward expression of their unhappiness fostered introversion in me. I developed a wonderful, internal world that gave me a sense of security – I literally blocked out the rows and only noticed when all was well. My father was rather eccentric and my mother was very creative. So at times I am all of this – eccentric, idiosyncratic, creative, boring, introverted, lazy, depressed, audacious, brave and scared. Living with me must be a challenge.
- My family life however, was mostly very happy. My parents were actually very good at making life brilliant under difficult circumstances. Not always, not consistently, but often. I have a deep and loving relationship with my siblings, a rather rare and precious thing, which is my parents’ most valuable legacy.
- I have had a number of occasions when I have said “yes” to unexpected opportunities and the result each time has been amazing and has taught me to grab chances when they come your way, even if you are not sure what they are.
- I finally started those dancing lessons at nearly 15 and at 18, prompted and encouraged by my dancing teacher Mandy, I auditioned for a show in Spain. For 3 years I worked in various shows in various countries alongside girls who had been training since they were 3. It was one of the best times in my life. It included some of the worst moments of my life. Life is usually pretty balanced.
- Whilst working in Aden, Yemen, I was taken to a souk to buy some supplies. My guide suggested I try some local food to which I agreed. We then went down a side street and found a man, crouching in the filthy gutter, cooking on a little stove. I was given a sort of herby omelette served in a pancake; it was absolutely delicious.
- In 2011 my job at East Sussex County Council was made redundant and I was to leave on the 31st March. On the 22nd of March I agreed to manage a team for 3 months – the Registration team. I knew nothing about what they did but jumped in feet first. 3 months became 6 months and for over a year I undertook a list of interim posts, picking up anything that needed doing, expanding my experience and horizons. I finally left in August 2012 to start up my freelance career, in a much better place than I had been.
- I was once raped. I’ve written about it here. The wound has healed but the scar remains.
- I am married to the most wonderful man in the world – no seriously I am. When I hear other people complaining about their partners I get embarrassed and feel a bit guilty. I think I got the last really terrific bloke. Sorry folks.
- In 1992 a well dressed man walked up to me at Green Park Station and told me that Jesus loved me. I was utterly astonished. I have walked and talked with Jesus ever since and He has walked and talked with me. I accept that my Christianity may cause some of my atheist friends some problems but my experience tells me that I am not mistaken. Probably.
So this is part of my list – not exhaustive and not in order. But truly me.