I didn’t set out to be a teacher. When I was six years old, we had to do that writing set piece that you still see adorning classroom walls on school open days today, you know, the ubiquitous When I Grow up I Want to be a… with your best self-portrait on one side and your hopes and dreams on the other? Most of the girls in my class said they wanted to be nurses, so I wanted to be one too. But there were too many nurses (if only that were reflected in our health service today!), so I was told to choose something else. I have no idea how I came to write that I wanted to be a jockey. I had never ridden a horse. In fact, I’m not sure I had ever even touched a horse then, unless, perhaps you count those sad donkeys they used to give rides on at the beach. But, to be honest, I reckon I probably hadn’t done that either; whether thrift or animal rights considerations put my mother off paying for that, I couldn’t say.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I did not pursue an equine career. I have ridden since then, but rarely, and badly. Neither did I go in to nursing (still remember Mum puzzling over the jockey thing but saying I couldn’t possibly nurse, as I didn’t like the sight of blood). I somehow stumbled into the financial markets after a degree in languages and business, and there I stayed for a decade.
From time to time I revisited the recommendation of my ‘A’ Level French teacher (she gets a mention here, too), but it wasn’t until I became a mother that I was motivated to take the leap away from the money and towards my vocation. Somehow, parenthood became the lens through which I was able to filter out the superficial and focus on what really mattered. And here I am.