When I was much, much younger, Steve McQueen was my favourite actor; I saw just about all of his films that were on at the cinema or shown on TV, but before the access we now have to media, there were quite a few I haven’t seen. I was amazed at how he had come from such a troubled childhood to being one of the top stars of the film world; now, his life and the problems he had including massive substance abuse, is known to all.
One of the things which I read about Steve when I was quite young, was his motto ‘You’ve got to make it happen‘… and for a long time I puzzled over this.
- I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer – how could I make that happen? I trained as hard as I could but this ambition was knocked on the head by glandular fever when I was twelve – off school for six weeks then a long, long recovery and it was over a year before I had caught up with my swimming times… by which time it was too late, I was ‘past it’ – except in fact I never would have made an Olympic swimmer! I didn’t actually have the temperament, I got very nervous, I was just not competitive enough, I was too good a loser – by which I mean I would whole-heartedly congratulated whoever had beaten me, instead of being angrily determined to beat them next time!
- I wanted to go to Cambridge University – how could I make that happen? I worked so hard at my studies, and however well I did in my class work, this did not translate into exam success; in exams, despite the mountain of revision I had done, once again temperament conspired against me. Although in every other way I was (and am) confident, suddenly in exams I would become almost paralysed by nerves; I was also really good at revising the wrong thing, misreading questions and lacking focus so I would write reams and reams on the wrong part of the question.
- I wanted to find true love – how could I make that happen? I had plenty of wonderful boy friends, but I always fell for the most unlikely and unobtainable people: a handsome German who returned to Germany to become a doctor, another someone who was probably gay, a different someone who was unsuitable in every possible way – and more, and then someone who had commitments elsewhere… Luckily in this case I did find my true love – my mum always said I would marry a tall dark handsome man, and nearly twenty-six years ago I did, and have been wonderfully happy ever since!!
- I wanted to be a best-selling author – how could I make that happen? I’ve mentioned here so many times that I have always told stories and written them for as long as I can remember. I have written so much over the years, stories, novels, poetry, and sent off manuscripts to publishers without number, more agents than I can count, entered every competition I come across… and apart from a few short stories in a magazine when I was twenty-two, no published success at all. I had no J.K. Rowling moment, I wasn’t picked from the top or bottom of a slush pile and launched to the top of the book sale charts…
So… back to Steve, ‘You’ve got to make it happen…’ I used to puzzle over this because I tried my hardest to make it happen in terms of swimming, going to Cambridge University, finding love, publishing a book… So was Steve wrong?
Looking again at those four things…
- through the swimming club I made some amazing, life-long friends, I had tremendous fun, I won loads of medals, cups and awards and broke club, city and county records. I had a life other than swimming and training, and the swimming and training I did I loved… would I have loved it if I’d had to go further? Would I have left my friends behind? Would my school and family life have been disrupted? Probably! So what did I make happen through swimming? Friends, fun, success, fitness – and I learned to keep going when things were tough, physically and mentally – and that must have made a big difference to every other part of my life! Also… I probably won’t drown!
- I didn’t go to Cambridge University, I didn’t get into any university, in fact I didn’t even make it through ‘clearing’. However by some fluke, and I have no idea how, I was invited to Manchester Polytechnic. I did a fantastic degree which has been of benefit throughout my life – English, history and French subsidiary. It was taught by some wonderful teachers and lecturers, and the three course ran parallel so when I was doing C19 English. European and social and economic history, I was also studying C19 English literature and poetry, and French literature and poetry. I made some fabulous friends, one of whom is still my best friend and the nearest thing I have to a brother, I fell in love with Manchester and the northwest and lived there for longer than anywhere else in my life. if I had gone to Cambridge – the city of my birth and childhood, I’m not sure I would have got a very good degree – not being good at taking exams! I’m positive I wouldn’t have met such a broad range of different people from different backgrounds, parts of the country and actually different countries. I wouldn’t have become as independent – we had to find out own accommodation, no halls of residence for us, and Manchester in the 1970’s was such an amazing place with far more life, and a much better music scene! Not going to Cambridge University changed my life much more and for much better than going there!
- There’s nothing I can say about not finding love when I was in my teens, twenties or thirties… I found my true love at the perfect time, my tall dark handsome prince! And we have a great family too!
- Not getting published – this let me live my life outside of an ivory tower; I’ve done some amazing things and met some amazing people, which has given me the stories I now write! Yes, I still want to see my books in book shops – but what I’ve achieved so far with my books I’ve published myself through Amazon as e-books on KDP – Kindle Direct Publishing – well, they really are my own work, all my own work, and, Steve, I made it happen!
Here is a link to my books: