who dares wins

The Major and I went to stay for a weekend at my old friend’s farm in mid Devon. One evening Rob and the Major were having a somewhat intriguing conversation. One of which I was unable to contribute too. Frustrated, my eyes opened to my own ignorance and narrow view of the World.

Both these men had enviable book collections adorning their shelves. I didn’t. I don’t believe I’d picked up a book, with or without images, that I didn’t have to read since completing my chosen, prescribed education. That weekend was a turning point. I didn’t see another option but to broaden my mind, to learn and to pick up a book. I began with the Major’s book collection.

Easily overwhelmed I began with a short story, to tease my appetite, ‘The Old Man and The Sea,’ by Hemingway, a tale unravelling the spectrum of great triumph, disappointment but ultimately acceptance.

The Major suggested I read the ‘Phantom Major,’ a story of overwhelming grit, resilience and adventure in North Africa about the founder of the SAS, David Stirling. For me, one of the greatest adventures; not much can come close to the legacy that was achieved in the African desert in 1941.

That man, and his team of misfits, swum against the tide, overcame the naysayers, the authorities who thought they knew best. Those who wanted him to fail or didn’t care for his ideas because of their own ego’s. With absolute belief in his vision; small covert teams destroying enemy planes under the cover of darkness would go a long way to help defeating the enemy and winning the war. Stirling didn’t follow the rules, he broke and manoeuvred them.

That book planted a seed within me. The ‘Long Walk’ would be one influencing chapter that led me to the Empty Quarter. It took me to Channel 4 with an idea. It introduced me to production companies who told me how difficult it would be to get commissioned.

Trouble was, at that time, I was at one of my lowest personal ebbs. I didn’t have the strength to beg for a production company to take a chance on me or for the crawl to a potential commission. At the same time I was working as an estate agent, I didn’t have the will to live that life either. For three weeks I worked in the evenings relentlessly on a website, my shop front. I desperately needed an out. My partner at the time would tell me I was in ‘lala land.’ Why? Maybe because it took me away from him. But I was focused and gravitating towards my path away from the influencing opinion of others.

A week later, after my website was built, far from how I wanted it to be, I was approached by a reputable production company interested in my expedition to Oman. We made a teaser together. Immediately rejected by the BBC, ‘she’s not a subject matter expert,’ but forever hopeful, the teaser sat with Channel 4 for months but was ultimately shelved.

My vision remained. If the conventional route is not an option, let’s try another. Let’s get a team together that share that vision and that are willing to take risks. We’ll produce this film regardless. And that is exactly what’s happening with film maker Matt Millan. It might be slower than we hoped, through lack of funds, but it’s happening.

The ‘Phantom Major’ remains my bible. It accompanied me to the Desert. When I struggled, when I made mistakes, I would revisit the prose to draw strength and comfort.

No great feats were ever accomplished without mistakes, without taking risks and without the relentless belief and pursuit of a vision, no matter where the path leads, evolves and how long it takes.

The time has come. Let’s juggle; let the planning of the next expedition commence, as my book collection continuously expands, as the remaining expedition debt is slowly repaid and as confidence grows. ?

who dares wins


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