Just for fun, we’re each revealing five things about ourselves which nobody knows – truthfully, I’d almost forgotten them myself! So, having trawled through the decades, here goes:
1. I was once the Under 5s Junior Shark Fishing Champion. Yes, you did read that correctly. As a child born to military nomads, we spent our early years living in foreign lands. One such place was Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Each Sunday, my father, brother and I went deep sea fishing. Jaws has nothing on us. Armed with supplies for us and the sea creatures (bait!), we boarded a boat just like the one in Jaws and headed out into the Gulf. Stopping over sandbanks, sometimes we’d see sharks so long, we would excitedly run to the other side of the boat and see the same one still cruising across underneath! No, I didn’t catch one of those. I saw some ‘big’ catches where the angler had to clip themselves on to the boat, as in Jaws, to land hammerhead sharks and rays. These huge and strangely beautiful creatures were released back into the welcoming depths.
2. I could read and write Arabic before my native language, English. Why? Because my first school was an English-speaking convent in an Arabic country. What a shame much of that learning was lost over the years but I do still retain the rudiments.
3. From a very early age, I was an expert knitter and later had my own label – ‘Designed and Hand Knitted by Janet Roebuck’. Taught by my mother, I still have some wonderful creations she made and some old patterns showing the price in ‘old money’, as 6d. These are now collectors items. I should say, my mother was also a talented tailor, who could look at something, rustle up a pattern out of newspaper and then create a thing of beauty. I never did cut it with the sewing machine, always managing to block even the supposedly ‘unblockable’ bobbin but often used to undo a sweater and remake it in the new season’s fashion.
4. My dream, for as long as I remember, had been to visit Alaska as the beauty and silence of the frozen landscape always enchanted me. In late 2007, having been literally moments from meeting my Maker, I had life-saving surgery and as I recovered, I came to appreciate the words of Jennifer Hough: “Some day and one day are not days of the week”. Almost having my life snatched away prematurely made me see that it’s the NOW that matters and every opportunity should be energetically embraced. I took my family to Alaska and, as we sailed down the Inner Passage to the glaciers, I stayed on deck for six hours, often alone, absorbing the sheer beauty around me, looking on as ‘bittibergs’, pieces of ice often the size of houses, floated by each a slightly different colour, transfixed by the knowledge they were hundreds of thousands of years old. It was a deeply spiritual moment, every bit as magnificent as my childhood dreams imagined.
5. By invitation, at the age of 22, I was coxon for Worcester Rowing Club, taking the ‘fours up’ and down the river. On my first outing, I saw No 1 had blood trickling down his leg from an injury he’d agitated. Although at full tilt, I issued the command for the (huge) men to pull over which they did, thinking there was an emergency. Let’s just say neither they, nor he, were best pleased when I pointed out it was because No 1’s leg was bleeding! An act of kindness I thought but it didn’t blend well with the macho mindset.
How uplifting it’s been to travel down Memory Lane for a few minutes; perhaps we should all revisit out highlights and feel again the excitement of moments gone by.