There is a photo of me from when I was three years old stuffing my face with chocolate cake. I have huge brown eyes and curly hair. And before you ask, no, I’m not going to show you the photo, despite being told I look very cute. It was my birthday and my mum had made me an owl shaped cake. I must have been going through a owl thing at the time. It was delicious and I utterly loved it. My mum was brilliant at making creative cakes for birthdays and over the years I had all sorts, cowboy and Indian western style forts, trains, all kinds of stuff. She doesn’t bake as often now, and I don’t get them on my birthday anymore, but back then they were epic cakes.
Most, if not all children, have a sweet tooth. They love the delicious sugary, chocolatey flavours. The fizz of boiled sweets, the juicy tang of jelly sweets, the pop and crackle of sherbet and the crunch of mints and toffee. As a child I was a bit picky about my food but this has since changed and now as an adult I’ll eat almost anything. However, my love of sweet things did not fade and I still have a huge sweet tooth.
A few years ago, during my first job after graduating, I went on a business trip for work. Over dinner my boss at the time remarked on my sweet tooth and the yummy noises I was making over the dessert menu. In a very good natured way he said, ah, well it will change, over time you’ll start to prefer a nice pint of beer or glass of wine instead of something sweet. He was speaking from a place of experience and kindness. But he was also speaking about his own experience. That was his road, not mine.
As it happens I never acquired the taste for wine, and unless they’re side by side I can’t tell a good one bottle from a bad one. I do like real ale now and have done a few reviews on here of some favourites, but my sweet tooth is still there, large as anything.
When I was in high school I had no clue about a lot of things. It’s fair to say I still don’t. But whenever I mentioned that I wanted to be a writer at school I always received an indulgent smile from adults, because in the back of their minds they were thinking that writing isn’t a career. It’s a hobby, something to do in your spare time. What I needed to focus on was getting a real job, that would lead to a real career, something that would pay the bills, and so following their advice I studied business and computing at A-Level and then university.
But like my sweet tooth, the writing never went away. It was always there and I was always working on it. I was always writing, screenplays and comic scripts, TV episodes for competitions and novels. In some ways the need to write grew as other interests waned, because writing gives me something that nothing else can.
A number of my friends now have children and when I hear about their different interests and achievements, this is inevitably followed by comments such as, ‘oh he’ll be a scientist’, or ‘she’ll work with animals’. I sometimes do this myself but it’s a habit I’m trying to break. Some of the predictions may turn out to be true, perhaps coincidentally, but I think most will not simply because the road ahead is always unknown, even to ourselves, never mind anyone else. All sorts of unexpected events, good and bad, send each of us off in different directions, and now I try not to think of it in terms of being blown off course because the future isn’t written down anywhere and no one knows which path we’ll take.