There are some activities we need to stop and some we have to get on with, for our own good. We cannot know what the future holds, so we should be wary of giving up anything that might be useful later on. I didn’t want to go back to Liverpool but I knew I must make sure to get my degree. I had no intention to ever take another one. Can I here Fate laughing? I needed to get my degree but I didn’t know why. Much later in my life when I was a psychotherapist I had the chance to do an M.A. related to my work with clients. I was then in my sixties. I never thought I would see Manchester again after my father’s death. Would I be up to returning to the fields of academia despite running a bookshop and print and poster shop in Cambridge for twenty years?
Yes I was. I enjoyed the M.A. so much that I went on to do my PhD at Brunel University when I was seventy. It was very hard work and it took me a while to get a subject after reading many books on the theme of Conversation Analysis. My preference for not asking for advice and doing things my own way was perfect for a PhD. It was published by Karnac under the title of “Not Just Talking.” We were a group of about a dozen of which I was the eldest: all of us in very different areas in the field of the Social Sciences. In the first year we had to attend a few lectures related to this field and I enjoyed them all. They were a kind of test, I think, to show we had enough ability to think and write well. I was amazed that both degrees were considered to be very well written. I had always wanted to be a writer. My love of words never faltered and I wrote bits and pieces now and then because I wanted to. It never occurred to me that I always had been since I first began to read books. My love of languages was very helpful. I speak and read French and English well, some Italian and now I am struggling with German. I have always read widely and that creates a range of vocabulary that has stayed with me. I often find a phrase or adjective that pops up in my mind just when I need it. My magic camera gets to work again especially well when I have begun to write, as I have done for many years. It is under the control of my inner daemon, my inner guide who always leads me once I get started: often down a path I had not thought of. He wakes me up at any time of the day or night to keep me on track. He always seems to be right. I could never have learned what he does for me from any other person except those who wrote all the books I’ve read.
I am interposing here the future into the present, which at this moment is in my late teens and early twenties. He told me to do it. It passes on a very important piece of advice. Trust your instincts. I have a fair number of books I took home from my shop for reasons I did not yet know. Every now and then when I am working on a new idea I find my hand making its way to a book I have never read that contains just what I need at a particular time.