The first 100 school children seated & settled themselves in the Main Theatre. “Who has a dream?” I asked each audience at the start of my talks at Technopop: a pop-up festival of science, technology, design & innovation for 6-19 year olds. A few young teenage hands were raised apprehensively. “Or, is there anything you’ve always wanted to do?” I rephrased encouragingly. A few more hands reached for the moon & the stars. I silently admired their courage.
They didn’t have to tell me their dreams. They didn’t have to tell anyone at all. It was their dream.
I began to share my story, while my audience listened intently. The story of finding, following & living the first dream of my own, of my life. I showed them my own invisible dream seed, held up between my almost pinched fingers – some smiled back knowingly, some looked confused, they all wanted to listen to find out more. As I slumped to sit on a low table in the middle of the stage to recount the lowest points of my story, the children’s eyes widened, the red lipstick-framed mouth of a school girl fell open, I felt them follow my every word, as if they were the footsteps of my journey. Some front row boys giggled awkwardly, but only momentarily.
As I guided each audience on a 20-30 minute tour, passing through 20-30 years of my journey, I paused to engage with them, to honour their attention. I took them to Paris with me to begin my first dream age 40. “Tu parles le français?” I asked. “Oui Madame!” A young solitary voice replied from a boy towards the back. And I returned them to Britain to join me on my little British things Tour where I invited them to contribute their own examples of everyday Britishness: double-decker buses, Big Ben, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Just a few suggestions revealing their personal experiences of Britishness from a diverse, central London audience. And we paused together at the exact point of my tour when I felt like giving up. Had they ever felt like giving up on something? Oh yes! Again several more honest, open, interactive hands participated.
At The End of my talk, I invited my inspiring audience to share their own precious dreams out loud. Of course, only if they wanted to. They were their dreams. An endearing hand raised on the front row: a dream to create a virtual reality. Then another hand: a dream of travelling to poor countries to provide medical treatment. And another hand: a dream to become an astronaut, an engineer, an architect – all voiced aloud tentatively but with sincerity & delight. Two boys to my left poked fun at each other’s dreams prompting a quiet discussion on respect for another’s dreams.
As I thanked & said farewell to my final talk that day, the questions were still being launched as I walked down the central aisle towards the back of the room. “Are you like a real life actual author, Miss?” One eager hand waved repeatedly in the air, “Are you still being bullied?” the concerned boy asked quietly. “How come you showed us your dream seed if it’s inside you?” I was enthusiastically challenged. Good question! I was so grateful for that question. “How old are you now?” a few young girls calculated calmly together based on the information they’d heard in my story. They had listened & remembered the details.
But by far the most common question was “Is that a true story?” The only variation being the addition of “Miss” at the end of the question & the enthusiasm, amazement & wonder on their faces, in their voices, each time it was asked. “Yes, every word.” I replied.
One boy concluded the magic of our shared experience with “Wow, your life is amazing’ Miss!” – it was a privilege to have touched their young lives that day.
My talk at Technopop London was based on my memoir, Dream Seed Magic ~ A Journey Beyond My Imagination, available on Amazon around the world.
With grateful thanks to Julia Elmore of be Creative Daily for her photographic assistance.