Natalie sings her heart out – but in private.
If anyone had told me in my teens I would end up being a writer I might not have been as surprised as if it had been mooted some years later. At that tender age I always had my nose in a book and I loved writing history essays at school though it ruined my handwriting forever. However, having trained as a secretary (I had a living to earn) I quickly rose to the dizzy heights of personal assistant to a managing director.
Had I had the courage the career I would have chosen for myself was singer. It has been said, not by me I hasten to add, that my voice was comparable to that of Julie Andrews. However, this sweet young and very shy thing, though bursting with song around the house, was too timid to perform in public. My parents begged me to have my voice trained but I refused. It is perhaps the one thing in my life I truly regret.
I married at twenty-three and was the mother of two by the age of twenty-six. I was an at home mum for many years. Then I took up riding and fell in love – with a beautiful skittish half-Arab gelding called Freddie (Fredrickson). Frightened of the merest shadow, or none at all, he once took exception to a milk float while I was on his back. I had no time to be scared because I had to reassure him, poor darling! Sadly, though it broke my heart, I had to let him go when divorce during my children’s teenage years necessitated me going back to work.
There must be something about me and managing directors as I became PA to a very important man heading a very important company. My children went to university and eventually I met my husband. Only trouble was, he lived in southeast London and I lived in northwest London. Something had to give. He was running his own dental practice and had a son still at school. It was a no-brainer so I uprooted and crossed the capital, bringing two dogs and a cat with me.
We have been officially retired for some time now and neither of us has ever worked as hard before. My husband, whose affinity with his patients still causes them to stop him in the street after all this time, moved on to voluntary work in the health sector. I undertook an Open University science degree course which I abandoned after two years, not because I couldn’t cope – I was doing very well – but because I thought it was taking too much of the little time we had together. So I took up writing instead! Those writers among you who are reading this will appreciate the joke.
My love of animals didn’t stop with my own family pets, sadly now long gone, and were I able to go back in time I would most certainly have followed a career that in some way involved animals. I’m not embarrassed to say I’m absolutely silly about them and certainly there is nothing to compare with the unconditional love given by your own.
Most of my time these days is spent writing, though I am partial to the practice known as ladies who lunch, or even couples who lunch. My husband and I both enjoy visiting museums and galleries but somehow these activities always seem to involve food as well. I have just embarked on another diet – yet again!
So, would I do anything differently if I had my time over again? I’d like to say I’d follow that singing career but I’m honest enough to know that I still probably wouldn’t have the courage. What I do have now is a self-belief that eluded me for many years. I am happy in my skin and get a great deal of joy out of what I do. How many people can truly say that?