Lose some, win some

Dyslexic chefsWhen I was 12, I was told I was dyslexic. The woman assessing me decided this by asking me to perform a number of tests. This included writing the numbers 1 to 10 using both my left and right hands at the same time, as fast as I possibly could. Try it. Ridiculous isn’t it? Kind of like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time.

God knows how this test informed the odious assessor of my learning difficulties, but either way I’ve grown up adopting this label. At times it’s held me back; muddling words, letters, numbers and frustrating myself with thinking I wasn’t articulate at expressing myself. However, I gather I’m in like-minded company, and it’s inspiring company too.

Jamie Oliver has spoken openly about his dyslexia, attributing his “passion, creativity, and multidimensional free thinking” to his dyslexia. James Martin owes his drive for success to his dyslexia. And there are many others.

Tainted with the belief I wasn’t ‘as good’ as others, like James Martin, for me it’s about proving myself…to myself. In James’s words “it’s about proving to yourself that you can do it because when you were younger you were five to ten years behind everybody else at school”. I’m also an August baby and so was the youngest in my year group at school. According to this theory, technically I should probably only just be sitting my A-levels. I wish.

At my stand at the Truman Brewery the other week, I gave my first customer – who bought a slice of vegan chocolate cake and a bag of Bliss Balls – too much change back. I only realised after she’d left.

The change I’d given wasn’t remotely relevant to purchasing one item, let alone two. I know there was a fiver in amongst the change, as well as some pound coins and silvers, but it was far too much for the tenner she’d given me. I felt so stupid. In my head she was sure to be laughing hard at my dyslexia (as if I had it tattooed on my head). Or was she?

At least I knew that she’d enjoy what she’d bought. She’d sampled some tasters, asked about ingredients, was interested in what had inspired me to make the shift from the advertising world into food, and she’d bought not one, but two products. Two products I’d made. Two products I’d devised the recipes for in my kitchen. Two products that went on to sell out that day.

I realised then, that I’d proved to myself what I wanted to, and James Martin’s words were ringing in my ear.

Later on that same day, I left the stand to pick up a coffee, stopping in at the bathroom on the way. There on the floor next to the sink was the face of the queen looking up at me, printed on a green note with the indistinguishable £5 mark, begging me to look after it. The rest of the bathroom stalls were empty and even if it had been dropped by a previous bathroom user, they were long gone. It was mine now.

I guess you lose some, win some, or is it the other way round? I get muddled sometimes.

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