A little while ago I picked up a manuscript offered by a friend. ‘Read it for me?’ Reg had asked.
It wasn’t a vast tome, some 120 pages of handwritten foolscap (in pencil) and I thought (as I weighed up the copy) that if the story was interesting enough, I would likely spend an afternoon deliberating the work and return it next day.
Reg and I had originally met through networking, juggling coffee, cake and a chuckle a few years back. We have a similar interest in the unfathomable – people – and so we ‘hit it off’ right away, although we hadn’t really been in touch apart from the occasional blog copy, until this day. I happily agreed to read the hand-scrawled, grubby looking piece.
‘Sure, I’ll give it some time Reg, thank you.’
‘When can you let me know what you think, Charlie?‘ Reg sounded anxious, I sensed it important I acted quickly.
‘When would you like my opinion mate?’ I replied.
‘Asap please Charlie, it’s a story I’ve been working on these past 30 years … and I’m running out of time. You see, it’s Mary, (wife) she’s not well.
Needless to say, I was slightly taken aback and agreed to meet the same time, same place, next day.
Mary and Reg had been married for almost thirty years and during that time Reg had kept up a ‘diary’ of the highs and lows of living with another human being, raising a family, juggling careers whilst making ends meet. It is a very personal story, with some pretty raw, emotional stuff evident, especially given the recent cancer diagnosis.
So, as promised, we met the next day for coffee and the ubiquitous sticky bun. I’d been involved with many projects of a similar type over the years, it’s my craft, memoirs are what I provide my clients. ‘Flesh on the bone’ one of my friends called it. Episodes of life are more like it.
But I am not here to offer the selly-sell …
During the course of the next few months, I was privileged to a sometimes-humorous story of companionship, a portrayal of family life which is not that dissimilar to most others, a story that is testimony to the power of love and devotion brought about by great, long-term partnerships.
Both Mary and Reg were grateful and thanked me for helping with their story. We said our goodbye’s and as I went along my way, I thought, this is yet another lesson networking has shown me, being ‘available’ to help others is more than ‘simply business.’
Business is personal.