Be careful what you wish for and all that…
There was a time, circa 1992, when I was led to believe I’d be an international artist photographing lions, elephants and water buffalo on s daily basis. My grandad, who was in no way an intrepid traveller (apart from the war and a hilarious family holiday to Minorca), had every faith I’d fly solo around the world. I believed him. You see, he’d seen stuff.
Grandad. desperate to escape the mundanity of the coal face he tried London (not for him), before joining the Blackwatch. Hiking the rugged Scottish landscape, then sailing to India in 42, trekking the Himalayas, jungle warfare until 45, then sailing back through Suez in 46, to meet my dear Nana back in Yorkshire. He was the most spirited man I’ve ever known. So kind, funny and filled with hidden stories; he had an intelligence and steely interior that I greatly admired and trusted. So, when he said that’s what I should do, I believed I could. I wished that one day I’d be that successful.
Around the age of 22 I decided that my ultimate goal would be to become a Dame (I’d not even come close to the African dream but that didn’t stop me) Yes, don’t laugh, I held (and still do to some extent) an intense longing to meet HRH and to be handed the honour. Now, you can have your Kim Kardashian and I’ll see your Beyoncé, however, give me five minutes with Her Madge and Prince Phil and I would be cock-a-hoop. In this desire I by no means understood that I’d have to pull some serious good work and earn gold plated brownie points in life to attain my life goal. So, after some deliberation and pushing of the baby’s pram (this stuff kept me going on those colicky and teething nights), I devised a life plan. It was called ‘How to achieve all goals culminating in s Dame-hood by the time I die’.
Problem is life has a nasty way of throwing up stuff you have to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, many beautiful and wondrous things have enriched and embellished my life. I can’t ever call it mundane or boring but neither am I in khaki with a camera zooming in on mating giraffes, or monkeys mothering their young. There’s no African savannah for me. With my aspirations managed by Him and my three children, my list had to change. They all told me there was no way I was allowed to be a war correspondent and they wouldn’t entertain a summer of me working in Greece with the refugees ‘Mum, we need you more’. How could I argue? So I dreamed new dreams. Thought about the attainable, how for us all to be happy.
This is where it gets messy though; we aren’t the luckiest of families and find everything comes at a price. What I mean is that every time one of my dreams has been realised (I really am lucky as rarely do dreams come true) that the brown kika (little E’s baby word for poo and chocolate) hits the fan.
One such dream was to live in a house on the beach. (I wished on every star and rubbed my Buddha daily) Also, this is a prime example of compromise. Ideally, I’d like a modest villa (I’m not greedy) on a white sandy beach. This could be in: the Caribbean, a Greek island, or a Sri Lankan beach. However, like I said, compromise…cut to me living in a three bedroom semi in a East coast seaside resort in Britain. So, egged on by Him and the kids, I put the semi on the market and started looking for a house on the beach.
8 years later (no joke that’s how long it took). After years of bad luck (you name it, it went wrong) one step forward; two back (pissing in the wind was often coined), I decided enough was enough.
This is where the caveat comes, because it worked. I refuse to apologise for what some might call ‘madness’.
I feel the need to contextualise; I absolutely love Greece. Therefore, I read anything about the place. Real or not real, I don’t care, I’m bloody obsessed. It was whilst reading one of my many books that I stumbled across the idea of removing (what I truly believed) to be the curse hanging over us. So one Sunday morning, I gathered the crew and explained we were going to perform a ritual. Raised eyebrows were aplenty, but they all not to mess with my superstitious ways. Armed with matches, salt and bay leaves, we began to remove the curse. The match was burnt and put into water. The resulting reaction proved, ladies and gentlemen, that I was right – we were cursed!! We then all said prayers, kept a bay leaf on our persons (until night when you put it under your pillow) and threw salt on the door steps. That night I slept like no other. I could feel (I’m not mad this is true) the stress, strain and worries being physically pulled from my head. I awoke optimistic and couldn’t wait to see what happened next…
Well, we only went and sold our house and bought a house on the end of the beach!! Brill, dreams come true. All those wishes on stars and rubbing of Buddha worked. I can walk to the end of our path and I’m walking in a nature reserve, which although not Africa, is rather magnificent and my doggy loves it (So would have my Grandad). For weeks I’ve been slipping along rather smugly thinking ‘yes’ we are on the lucky up.
Oh how wrong I was; poorly car, dodgy boiler and I’ve just spent the afternoon jet washing the drive to find out that it’s not been laid properly and the water had nowhere to go!! All of which are putting a large dent in my ‘shoebox appeal holiday fund’ (it’s in the bank so there’s no need to break in as the shoebox is now empty). And whilst I look at social media of photos of ‘friends’ on holiday, having a social life, I start to get a little mardy. (I’ve spent half term decorating and putting unicorn wallpaper up). I ask myself ‘did I wish for the wrong thing?’ And then I walk on the beach, or wake up to the sound of the sea and have to pinch myself…
Last night’s conversation says it all really:
Me: ‘oh god I’m knackered and now I’ve got to light the bloody candles.’
Him: ‘oh yeah, such hardships. That’s it force yourself to light all the candles in your gorgeous stone fireplace in your lovely house by the sea. Chuffing hell, some people have real problems!!’
My goodness, what a moaning whinge-bag I am; It’s a good job I have Him to keep me in check!! So, I’ve decided I’ll keep wishing (maybe have a go at the stopping moaning) you never know what’s next on my list to come true. Maybe the palace could call yet…