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Sage words from Alan Titchmarsh

When I started my working life as a gardener back in the 1960s I had few aspirations, other than to spend my life growing plants. Sixty years on I can look back on a career – and a good deal of leisure time – when I have done just that.  But when other opportunities come your way – attractive opportunities – it seems churlish to turn them down.  So it is that I have managed a career that has encompassed presenting music programmes, interviewing members of the royal family, hosting a chat show and writing novels.  I say this not boastfully, but only to encourage others to have a go.  All too often we remain focussed on a primary goal and are blinkered when it comes to recognising unexpected opportunities that come from left of field. I’ve been so lucky in my life and work, but when I said this to my next-door neighbour he said ‘That’s funny. I find the harder I work, the luckier I get.’  Up to a point, yes…but we still need people who can see in us things that we don’t always see ourselves. I am about to embark on a publicity tour (dreadful phrase) for my eleventh novel ‘The Scarlet Nightingale’.  Eleven! How did that happen?  Well, back in the late 1990s I had an idea for a story about a television gardener (always write about what you know, they say). That first novel was called ‘Mr MacGregor’.   And then I had another idea… I write about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances – perhaps that, too, is a result of personal experience. But gardening continues to be my first love, and the thing I do every day in my Hampshire garden, or a patch of earth on the Isle of Wight where we have a bolt hole.I know I’ve been lucky and, yes, I do work hard.  But the luckiest people in life are those who discover where their own particular talents lie, and who encounter ‘ the enablers’ – people who will encourage them when their own confidence is not up to the job.  That’s what happened to me.  I hope I’ve been generous spirited enough to do the same for others.  Alan Titchmarsh