Travelling on the motorway at the weekend I observed hundreds of cars so fully loaded that you couldn’t see through the back window. I think it was students, leaving the nest and being driven to their new homes.
Thirty-five years ago, I left my hometown of Leigh, Greater Manchester. A small place where everyone talked to each other at bus stops and most people worked in a factory or down a pit. I moved to the East Midlands. To Loughborough to be precise, to embark on a degree course in Textiles and Fashion Design.
Me, mum, dad and boyfriend and all my worldly goods packed into the car on a Sunday afternoon. They helped me unpack and then I was left, on my own, in grotty halls of residence. Sharing a room with a complete stranger. It was exciting and a bit scary all at the same time. I was alone and the only way I could keep in touch with my loved ones was by queuing for the pay phone in the corridor outside my room, along with the 30 other girls who lived there.
I’d worked hard to get this opportunity. I’d done an extra year of study to get to this point. I’d applied the year before and been unsuccessful at securing a place – it went on interview and your portfolio of work. My drawing had let me down. Rather than accept the place I was offered at my second choice uni I’d decided to have another go the following year.
That year I drew and drew and painted and drew…I improved a lot. I also worked 2 jobs evenings and weekends in pubs alongside. I was determined, focused and getting that place on one of the most prestigious art colleges of the time was my absolute priority. My dad’s mantra had always been if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.