As a kid I received conflicting messages about asking for things.
One grown up would say, “Ask and you won’t get”.
Others would be all … “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”.
Then another message that blew the others out of the water came in. It was “if you don’t try, you’ll never know.”
So. When I was little I wrote a letter to Margaret Thatcher to ask if we could extend school holidays. Her secretary pointed me in the direction of the educational department and explained that it was their remit. I asked them. They said no.
I then made a list of all the presidents and prime ministers I could think of and wrote letters to them asking if they would stop people chopping down trees in the Amazon Rainforest. President Metreon actually replied, which made me very happy but he didn’t stop the people chopping down the trees.
In my early twenties I once asked if I could be upgraded to first class and they said yes. Which was nice. Another time I asked to be upgraded to first class but they said no and put me in Business Class instead where a very nice man asked me to come and work for him flying around the world to source textiles for his fashion company. This time I said no, because “I have not studied fabrics or fashions. I am a writer – but thank you for the offer and yes, I’ll take your card in case I change my mind.”
He asked. He didn’t get.
Last summer when me and the Naughty N woke up the sleepy village of Yorkshire, we ran out of bread and milk two days running. On day one we crept sweetly up to the local in pub and asked, “Will you sell us bread? We have run out.”
“I can do you two slices for a quid,” the disinterested barman replied.
I raised my eyebrow at Naughty, then turned back to Bar Man. “Is it nice, thick farmhouse home baked bread for that price?”
“Nope. It’s Hovis Best of Both.”
“And you want to charge us a whole pound for two slices?” blurted Naughty N, destroying our whole sweet facade. “That’s ridiculous man!”
“Sorry,” he shrugged and we ushered the Von Trapp children out whilst muttering.
The next day we returned with the bare footed Von Trapps and said to Bar Man (who was beginning to understand what he was being faced with now). “Sorry to bother you, but can we by some milk?” p>
“Why Can’t You Just Go To The Shop?”
“There isn’t a shop,” I pointed out to this young man who obviously thought we were either A Bit Stupid or A Bit Mad (why else would he be talking to us in capital letters?)
At that point Naughty N took over and explained very clearly whilst gesturing with her hands, “The only shop here is a sweet shop. And we need milk for pancakes. Look at these children. All they’ve done all day is argued and play Wii. They are famished. They need pancakes.”
“Sorry, we don’t sell cartons of milk,” he replied. “Try the pub down the road.” And we ushered the Von Trapp children out whilst muttering. Again.
On the third day we decided to go shopping and we bought loads of eggs, milk, bread and everything. Also, that evening Naughty N’s husband and The Lovely Ed were coming down from Scotland with a pickup truck full of seafood, so we purchased many a complimentary item to go with lobster. That evening, after their welcome arrival, the food preparations were all under way.
“Can’t find the olive oil,” said the Lovely Ed. “You did buy some didn’t you?”
Naughty N clenched her teeth and looked at me. “We forgot the olive oil.”
“Well, we need olive oil. Can you go to the shop?”
Thump, thump, de-dunk (sound of hearts dropping).
“There isn’t a shop,” whispered Naughty N. She started to gnaw her thumb nail, then burst out laughing like a hysterical mad woman and cried, “There isn’t a shop Lovely Eddie! There isn’t one!… Is there Bethan? There IS NO SHOP!”
Five minutes later we were putting on our wellington boots and I trudged and Naughty N marched ahead to the pub. This time we had no Von Trapp children to look angelic. There was a feeling in the air of having “over asked our welcome”.
“This is utterly ridiculous!” Naughty N declared as we approached the door. “He’s never going to give us olive oil if he can’t give us bread or milk.”
Sensing her increasing despair, I took a deep breath and paused, hand on door knob and looked at Naughty N in the same way that Scarlett O-Hara probably gazed at Red in Gone With The Wind. “Sweetie, there is always A Chance.”
Naughty looked back at me. There was a moment … a dramatic pause. She nodded, determination suddenly flooding her once again. “Yes. You are right. There is always a chance.”
The man at the bar folded his arms as we approached. “What can I get for you?” he asked thinly.
“We would like to buy some olive oil please,” Naughty N said and she slammed down her wallet on the bar in a determined, I’m not taking no for an answer sort of way. I watched with interest as the barman’s face morphed into a “what the f**k is wrong with you people” and then de-morphed into a look of absolute euphoric bliss.
“Well you are in luck,” he said. He proceeded to lead us through the bar to a tall vending machine that sold, not cigarettes, not flavoured condoms, not even emergency tampons … but olive oil. We were so flabbergasted we almost bought the barman a drink to celebrate… But didn’t – HA! Then we ran home, delighted, with not one but TWO bottles of olive oil just to prove it was all a true story.
The moral of this tale? If you ask, you sometimes won’t get but you sometimes will. If you keep asking, eventually you’ll end up with something that you randomly didn’t expect. But all in all, the way forward is to ask. So grown up one … you were wrong.
PS. I was all inspired to write this post because of the next step I’m taking to bring GYOG to the world. I am currently compiling a list of great, wonderful and powerful women and men to present Gorgeousness to. Out of 78 candidates, the list is being whittled down to 33 and I’m now in a process of asking various P.A.s, receptionists, secretaries and managers for the details of these people. The amazing this is that so far, every single person I’ve asked for help has said YES (detail you shall have) .
PPs. There is something wrong with my computer so I can’t upload any of the lovely pictures I have prepared for this post. This means that until the computer starts to behave, you will just have to see all the pictures in your head. I hope this works ok for you. Also, the “u” is being very sticky, so if some “u”s are missing you know why.