become anything you wish
My Story - the start of it all...
My Story: Here is my story: A very hot, sunny August morning in 1953. Hot, even though it was still only six o’clock.
My mother woken me up with the stern words “Get up and get dressed”. This was unusual, and I wondered what had happened. My Mother was in no mood for explanations though, I could see that. She had that stern ‘Mum’s’ look on her face. I knew when to keep quiet.
She went off and I could hear her getting my two younger sisters dressed. I was just five years old, and my sisters were three and one.
I went downstairs and my mother had a little pushchair there, with my youngest sister Frances sitting in it. Draped around the handles were some bags with clothes in them. It didn’t look like we were having any breakfast, or even a cup of tea!
We left the house, and I remember my Mother slamming the door, with a strange look on here face. We started walking. Well, my Mother was walking. Fast. Jennifer and I were almost jogging to keep up. I remember asking “Mum, where are we going?” but there was no answer, just a hard, fast walk. We walked to the bottom of the road then turned sharp left, and carried on for another quarter of a mile or so. We turned off the road then, and down a dirt track which gradually narrowed until it was barely wide enough for the pushchair.
My Mother pushed and bounced the pushchair along, and Jennifer and I ran along behind.
Soon the path bore left and ran along the banks of a river. It was the river Irwell, and it was heavily polluted. It didn’t so much flow as ooze. The rats didn’t swim in it, they walked over it. The water was dark brown and covered with a thick yellow scum which stank horribly in the heat of the morning.
We followed this path for a couple of miles or so, and as the morning got hotter, we became very tired and thirsty. My Mother, in her haste to leave, had forgotten to bring any water, and we began to suffer from the heat, thirst and the fast pace.
Eventually, an hour or so later we came to a long road that ran from left to right in front of us. On the other side of the road was a row of small, sad-looking terraced cottages, and we stopped in front of one near the middle. My mother opened the door and we went inside.
Hot as it was outside, it was freezing cold inside. We entered, straight from the street, into the front room which was small and cramped. The floor comprised granite slabs that were laid directly onto the ground, there was no floor covering and no insulation. The house was very narrow – about 12 feet, or 4 metres wide. A staircase made up the far wall, and there was a door into the kitchen.
The kitchen was even smaller than the front room, and with the same granite floor slabs. A white, square sink with a solitary cold tap was against one wall, and a three ring gas cooker on another. There were few shelves or cupboards, no fridge, no freezer, and no heating system. The badly fitting back door opened onto a small yard, at the bottom of which was the toilet. That was it. We had no bathroom, no bath, no shower, no heating and no hot water.
That was when I found out that this was to be our new home. My Mother, for reasons she kept to herself, had left my father. I never saw or heard from him or my friends from that day on.
Across the road was a paint factory, and my Mother had found employment there. She wasn’t paid much, and as there were very few, if any, public handouts in those days, my Mother could not make her wages stretch far enough, so she took another job, working evenings and weekends in a local pub.
She spent very little time at home: the two jobs monopolized her days, and the time she did have at home she was, not surprisingly, very tired and had little time for us. Things were very different in those days, and there was no question of her employing a nanny or childminder full time, although my sisters did stay with a neighbour during the day; there just was no money available for luxuries like that, and so it fell to me to look after my sisters, and myself – no small task for a five year old. I didn’t know anything else, though, so I just got stuck in and did what I had to do.
Friday night was bath night. Hanging from a nail in the wall of the yard was an old tin bath that my Mother would drag into the kitchen. Three pans of water were put on the gas rings to heat up, and cold water poured into the bath. Eventually we got three inches or so of tepid water, and, as I was the oldest child, I had the benefit of going first.
It wasn’t a pleasant experience. The kitchen was invariably very cold, and trying to wash your hair and bathe in those circumstances was very difficult.
When I finished, another pan of hot water was added and Jennifer jumped in, and then the same for Frances. We all then went into the front room and sat round the small, open coal fire whilst my Mother bathed.
Emptying the bathwater was a trial: My Mother and I would drag it across the kitchen floor to the back door. Inevitably the water would slosh over the side, no matter how careful we were, and soak the kitchen floor. Once at the door, one end of the bath was lifted and the water poured out over the yard, as well as into the kitchen. The soap in the water stuck to the granite slabs, and eventually the whole yard became white with soap. As soon as it rained and the soap became wet, it like a skating rink. No fun in the middle of a wet winter’s night when you needed the loo!
We were poor: there was just no spare money for anything. We rarely took a bus – we walked everywhere. We didn’t have biscuits or sweets, and very seldom ate protein. Bread and potatoes in one form or another was our staple diet. I never, ever had pocket money. If I wanted something I had to make it or earn the money to buy it. I became very good at improvising and making do, though, and was very good with my hands. I had no choice, I just could not afford the luxury of failure. If I didn’t make it or get it, I didn’t have it.
What that did, though, was instil in my mind a ‘success’ factor. I became so good at succeeding at things that eventually the thought of not succeeding never entered my head. I never feared any project, no matter what it was, and my motto, from a very early age, was: ‘If he can do it, I can do it, and probably better!’
What I learned was self belief and focus, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. All I knew was that I was good at things, and I could achieve anything I turned my hand to. I learned never to give in.
I remember once when I was about fourteen. I somehow got into a fight with the toughest kid in the school. We were in the same year, and he terrified everyone, even the eighteen year olds. He was big: over six feet even at that age, and built like the proverbial brick outhouse.
I have no idea now what the fight was about, but I remember rolling around the school yard trading punches and with all the other kids around us shouting and yelling. Eventually I heard Jeff (that was his name) shouting out “Give in, give in…” “I’m not giving in!” I shouted back, and to my surprise he replied “No, I’m giving in…” and with that he extricated himself and ran off.
Well, you can guess the outcome: his reputation was in tatters, and I became the new school tough kid. More than that though, was the effect it had on my mind. As the fight started I was quite expecting to become mincemeat. A few minutes later I was the new hero. That taught me a lesson: I learned NEVER to give up, no matter what the odds. Circumstances, and life, can change in an instant, and I carried that lesson all through my life.
I remember when Johnny Cash released his record ‘A Boy Named Sue.’ It is a song about a father, who, knowing he could never be there to help his son through life, named him ‘Sue’. The hardships the boy faced because of that name made him tough and resilient, and I could empathise with him. My tough upbringing made me successful. It became ‘My Story’.
I was fortunate in a way. I achieved a success mindset through circumstances. Some people learn or acquire that mindset and some others never do.
The good news is that it can be learned. Later in life – when I was well into my fifties – I came across Napoleon Hill’s book ‘Think and Grow Rich’. Straight away I knew what it was that I had. I had the same success mindset that Napoleon talks about. I just hadn’t quantified it, or analysed it in the way he did, but it it was the same, nonetheless.
Later I read the book ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. A good book, with plenty of insights by already very successful people. I was particularly intrigued and taken by Bob Proctor, and he eventually became my mentor.
The thing was, though, that Hill’s book, and the film and book by Rhonda, tell you what to do, but not necessarily how to do it or how it works. They don’t really get to grip with the mechanics of The Law of Attraction.
I have an enquiring mind, and I needed to know, so I delved and I researched and I learned.
I hope I can help you on your road to success…