Tuesday, 20 April 2010

It's the little things

Have you ever stopped to wonder just how you got to this point in your life? Have you ever had a moment when you ask yourself why you're doing what you're doing at that precise moment?

Yesterday I had coffee, and cake, of course, with a friend of mine. We were talking of some fun things we had both enjoyed over the past year, and of family and friends. Then we talked briefly about our own upbringings, and the influence our formative years have on the rest of our lives.

I had a bizarre and strange childhood to say the least, and certainly not one which people would call stable and supportive. My first twelve months of life could not have been more turbulent, and I was separated from my mother for six months during that time. Years later, as I was approaching double figures, the relationship between my stepfather and I started to decline into something which I can only describe as violent. Thirty five years on and I now believe he had jealousy issues with the love my mother wrapped me up in, as her own penance for leaving me behind so early on. I don't think it was a conscience thing, but it did create bad feeling between my stepfather and I.

I often have regrets at not having gone on to further education, and gaining a degree. I didn't do well at school, partly due, I would say, to not getting the parental support and interest in my studies. On leaving school at sixteen, I knew I would have to fight and work that little bit harder to get on.

I developed a hard work ethic, that I would say I've only realised in the past few years. It just seemed perfectly normal to me to work as hard as I have. It's been pointed out to me many times, but as I say, I've only just realised it myself. This has certainly been a product of that little moment of thought when I first left school.

But how did I get here? What brought me to this point in life where I am sat here writing a blog, and trying to forge a career in film making? It all seems very bizarre to me. I can understand and piece together my formative years easily now, but my adult years seem to have been purposeful stepping stones that have naturally fitted together, almost by design.

My first foray into the big wide world, was to join the RAF. I wasn't in for long. Sadly a friend of mine on my flight, as they call groups of trainees, was killed, and it was all hushed up. I decided I couldn't be a part of such an organisation, and left, much to my stepfather's disappointment.

I'd had a brief job before the RAF, with an agency that provided graphics to the advertising industry, and I approached them in the hope they would take me back. Which they did. That then led to moving to an advertising agency called Hall Advertising, a part of Saatchi & Saatchi, which in turn led to being head-hunted a number of times for my creative skills by other companies.

But it all came to an end in 1989 when the advertising world hit a turbulent time with the introduction of desk top publishing, and overnight my job was replaced by a computer. I was given no warning of losing my position as director of the Scottish arm of an English agency, and one day the company directors turned up and took the keys to the office, and my car, and left with the parting words: "We've shut down the Scottish office". I never saw them again. I had not a penny on me, and so had to walk the four miles home. Half way there the heavans opened, and, dressed in only my suit, I was thoroughly drenched by the time I reached home. I decided I would never work for such a back-stabbing industry again.

This was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I opened a deli, then five years on expanded into a coffee shop. Another ten years later and I sold it, deciding to go for my ambition in life, to become a film maker. During that period the deli also allowed me to travel the world extensively, something which I will forever be grateful for. Looking back I feel the start of the deli was the real start to my life. The people that came into my life during that time, and those that left, have brought me to where I am today. But it goes deeper than that.

There is one person to whom I owe so much to above all others.

I will never forget the moment in early July 1995, during the time I owned the deli. It was a Friday, and the sun was shining. I had finished for the day and was walking along the front of the shops toward a side street where I had parked my little, rusty Fiat Uno. On the corner was a post box. Just as I started to turn the corner, right at the red letter box, I almost ran into this girl in a great hurry. The moment was over in a second. She was carrying an enormous rucksack on her back, off for some great adventure somewhere in the highlands, adventures that we would go on to share to this day.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

It was the little things that had led to that moment. Had I not lost my job, started the deli, or left two minutes later that day, I may never have met her. She has been my rock ever since. She has been there whenever I needed support. She is my soul mate.

I may not have had the greatest childhood, I may not have gained that degree, but I've made it this far, and I am richer for the journey. I've made many mistakes along the way, sure, haven't we all, some big, some small, but I'll forever be grateful for the little things.

Especially that moment in 1995.

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