From the preceding pages, you will see that many people have helped to create, develop and nurture my love of language – my mother, Miss Lax, Mr Booth, David Martin, Bob Glover, Dave McIntyre, Winston Churchill, J F Kennedy and George Orwell.
Over the years, I have also been hugely influenced – and entertained – by the wonderfully crafted work of some of our great comedy writers: Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynns’ Yes, Minister and later Yes, Prime Minister, John Esmonde and Bob Larbeys’ Ever Decreasing Circles and Eddie Braben’s timeless masterpieces for Morecambe and Wise.
By any means, I don’t pretend to be a master of the written word but, thanks to all these influences, I can put one word in front of another with a degree of clarity.
And that word – clarity – is what writing provides for me in my life. At work, if I need to provide feedback to an individual, I will always write it out first – because only that act of writing will enable me to provide completeness, accuracy and order. If I want to make a change to a significant system or approach, I will write a report which recommends the new course of action. And, in that document, I will generate influence by providing context, background, where we are now, where we want to be, the journey required, the hurdles to overcome and the benefits (there’s JFK’s influence).
As a trainer, I create presentations initially by writing down bullet points on PowerPoint. But it’s not until I come to write the detailed trainer notes that the story of the presentation truly unfolds – which is when the slides have to be added to, deleted from or, at the very least, re-ordered. Likewise, when I began this website, I wrote little notes about each person as soon as I remembered something – whether that was on the train, in the office or whilst watching TV – I wrote it down straight away. But it wasn’t until I came to compose the detailed letters that the real shape and clarity formed around each character, the situations and how they shaped my life.
In several instances during the writing process, I have laughed to myself over the memories. In others, my emotions have overwhelmed me and the tears have flowed. Some of the letters have triggered both extremes.
Such is the power of writing.