I watched H G Wells The Time Machine last night, I love the part where Rod Taylor sits in his Time Machine and watches as the fashion in the dress shop window changes, hemlines rising! It was one of the first grown up films I ever watched as a child and I remember being a wee bit scared of those weird creatures he meets towards the end.
It did make me think though, if I had a Time Machine, when would 50-year-old me go back to give myself advice? Would I like to warn myself of things that would happen that would change my life or shape my character?
When I went for my tennis lesson the other Sunday with Julie at Western Health and Racquets Club, I had one brief moment when I was not on the court but was outside my Mum and Dad’s house hitting a grubby old tennis ball against their wall. The racquet in my hand was an old wooden one, with very dodgy strings. I could feel the belief of the 8-year-old me, that I was superb tennis player, ready for my Centre Court début and to lift that famous trophy. Every stroke was a winner and instead of the ball chipping away at the rough cast on the wall, it was taking me further towards beating Chris Evert! I brought myself back to reality when I whacked myself on the shin with the modern-day light racquet I had borrowed. It was almost like the present was telling me that that was then this is now. Pay attention.
As children our dreams are big, to be the spaceman, to marry a superstar singer or our handsome prince, or perhaps we just want to hit ten shots in a row against Chris Evert? Whatever our dreams were then, if I had the chance what would I go back and say to myself? Would I tell me that you will never marry Donny Osmond? That that hairbrush microphone will never be on Top of The Pops? That you will face heartache when much-loved family members pass away and that boy you really fancied at school really didn’t know you existed. So much of our lives is shaped by who we are and what we go through but, in my opinion, it is up to you whether you let that influence your attitudes and ‘destiny’.
When I look back on my 50th birthday week, there are many moments I would love to go back to, to relive and perhaps not blub as much. It all passes by so quickly that ever single moment is precious, particularly the five or so hours spent at the party with my amazing family and friends around me. That is time gone, memories created and images set in my mind that will forever make me smile and, I have to say make me feel sad when I think of those I miss so much it aches. But would I go back to 12th June and tell myself to do things differently, no I would not.
As a child we dream, as an adult we still dream. Perhaps it is no longer Donny Osmond, perhaps it is now Clooney, Renner or Bradley Cooper! Or perhaps as an adult I realise that whacking that ball against the wall was me starting to build my future, 8-year-old me starting have ambitions in life, starting to develop the wish and the belief that inside me there is a confidence to realise that I may never beat Chris Evert but I can have a hell of a lot of fun trying. And with my friends and family as my team on the sidelines, the support and applause is not two seagulls sitting on the roof but is genuine and real and I saw that for myself as I looked round my Centre Court début at my 50th party.
So 8-year-old Geraldine, never stop hitting that ball, never stop believing that one day your Centre Court will happen because it will, it might be in a fabulous long blue dress instead of a tennis skirt but it will happen and you will see the faces of those who made the effort to be there to support you staring back at you from the beautifully decorated tables at your 50th party while you make your victory ‘speech’.
Game, set and match to me …