When I was at school I didn’t consider myself to be one of the smart kids. Neither did my teachers. I went to two different primary schools (was expelled from the first one for having the wrong dinner money, it’s a long story) and then went to the local single sex grammar school. I didn’t get in on the strength of my academic promise, or on any sort of recommendations from my teachers about the glittering future they could see for me. No, I got in because my mum wrote an essay in the application form which seemed to sway the admissions secretary. To this day I don’t know what it said.
I didn’t like school, and school didn’t like me either. I asked the wrong questions, or didn’t pay attention or didn’t show up. By the time I was fifteen my hormones had completely taken over and I was a typical teenage girl, all random hair and spots and lumps sprouting out of strange places. I left school with a good enough haul of O levels, but a very poor result in my A levels. By this time I already knew that what I wanted to do wouldn’t have anything at all to do with universities because: a) we couldn’t afford it and b) there wasn’t a cat`s chance in hell of getting in anywhere worth going. So I went into the world and started from the bottom. I worked my way up through a variety of theatre jobs until I hit the West End and international theatre tours as a Company Manager. Then I started again and did the same with disability and community work. Then I started again and did the same with holistic therapies and health. Then I moved to Mallorca, to add another dimension of difficulty, and did it all over again. I like change, and I like challenges.
Back at the beginning my best friend at school, Catherine, was destined to be a writer. From day one she was the clever one of our partnership, and I was the gobby one. Things came extraordinarily easily to Catherine, whilst I had to work for it. And in order to work for it I had to be convinced that it was going to be worth the effort. So often enough I didn’t bother. Becoming a writer didn’t look as if it would ever be within my reach, I decided that only the most intelligent people could possibly do that.
Throughout my various careers I had the opportunity to write reports for presentation and I began to realise that perhaps I might be able to string a sentence together. Other people would have trouble writing words down in an understandable reading order, whilst I found it simple. Perhaps, after all, school had done something somewhere along the way. But I also think that another thing that changed was my belief in myself. As I worked my way through jobs to more jobs, forever moving upwards, my confidence grew and with that my voice and my opinions strengthened. I took a night school course in Journalism at the London School of Economics and as I developed so did the opportunities, and the technology to get my ideas and thoughts out into the world, firstly via blogs. When I started blogging back in 2004 I didn’t really think that I would now write professionally, but I do. It is now the thing which I earn the majority of my living from: copywriting for businesses, doing their brochures, emails, websites, and teaching them how to express themselves in the written form in social media.
When I heard that I had won the Expat Blog Gold Award for my blog www.familymattersmallorca.com and for my article “The Mallorca Expat Commandments” I felt an incredible sense of achievement. It’s a wonderful end to a brilliant 2013 for me: it’s been a (the “J” word) journey…. in the best X Factor fashion. My article, about the Dos and Don’ts for anyone moving to the island, was the most commented on article in the entire competition and beat the other 170 entries from around the world to the top spot. Thank you to everyone who supported me and commented on the article. And thanks to Mrs McClaire who was the careers advisor at school back in 1987: she told me not to bother trying to work in the theatre as I’d never do it. Well I did it and many more things as well. And that’s my New Year’s Resolution for 2014: Don’t let anyone ever tell you can’t.