I share a birthday with Sean Connery, probably the best ever Bond and one of Scotland’s few global icons; Jim Wallace, one of the UK’s nicest politicians and Elvis Costello, the best singer British songwriter alive today.
So, what have I achieved in my first 57 years…
Well I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Probably one (or two) relationships that should never have gone past the first date.
Eating too much. I am a size 16 – 18. I would rather be a 14 – 16 but can’t give up sweeties and red wine.
Lighting up that first fag – on a school Latin trip to Hadrian’s Wall, which led to 25 years of dogged puffing.
I failed to complete university, an achievement that probably hurts my mum more than me. She was so proud when I became the first McShane ever to go university. And sometimes when I see a great position advertised in Africa that requires at least a first degree I do experience a pang of regret…
I was not a great mother during my sons’ teenage years – spending too much time in Labour Party meetings and pointlessly chasing a political career that I realised, sometime around 1998, I didn’t actually want.
Not writing enough – or to be brutally honest, being too lazy to write, preferring to wile away my free hours watching re-runs of Escape to the Country and Come Dine with Me. Sad, but all too true.
But I am quite proud of some things…
My two sons Sean and Robert, who despite my clumsy mothering skills, are now successful, hard working men, with great wives, and a growing tribe of grandchildren. I suspected being a granny would be fun. I underestimated how amazing it is.
Asking Nigel to marry me. He’s simply the best husband I could ever have.
My wonderful, but mad family – which took Nigel, an only child, into its big heart.
My friends. You all know who you are…thanks for putting up with my grumpiness!
Joining the Labour Party in 1980. Okay politics is not everybody’s cup of tea, and there have been times when I have thought “why?”, but I am still a believer. The Labour Party is founded on good values, end of.
Taking risks. Having Sean when I was 19 and Robert four years later. Moving to Wester Hailes as a single parent of two wee boys. Giving up a political career to join the Evening News. Giving everything up to travel the world in 2008 with Nigel.
Spending time in Malawi. I lost my heart there in 2005 (thanks Jack!) and I can truly say that Africa has changed my life for the better. Just as it has the potential to change the world for the better.
I am beginning to sound slightly too pious, so I am off to see the Confessions of Gordon Brown (perfect birthday treat for a political junkie), then get drunk on good red wine and eat too much good Italian food.
Here’s to the next 57!