My ambition? I’ll tell you when I grow up

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It’s one of the first questions that pops out when you’re trying to make conversation with a youngster - what do you want to do when you grow up?

We got it ourselves when we were young, when the answer was determined by what held the promise of most excitement - a spaceman, train driver, nurse, pop star!

However, when a friend of one of my offspring recently asked me what I had wanted to be when I was growing up, it got me thinking well, what were my ambitions?

Journalism, and newspapers in particular, was pretty high up there from the get go, though the inspiration came from two very different sources.

With a large family over in the west, many weekends were spent in Glasgow and I have a vivid memory of standing with my small hands and face up pressed up against the glass of the then Daily Record building in Hope Street to watch, and feel, the mighty printing presses in action, with giant rolls of blank newsprint feeding in at one end and coming out the other, as if by magic, as a newspaper.

You could actually smell the ink and it was the most exciting thing I had ever seen.

Then, as a child of the era when the only entertainment on wet Saturday afternoons was watching old black and white films on BBC2, I saw the newspaper comedy ‘His Girl Friday’.

It was fast-paced and witty but what struck me most was the star reporter - she was a woman!

Into my teenage years I yearned to be a war correspondent for Reuters. I didn’t know how you did that but I was carried away with the devil-may-care-heroics of war journalists.

Writers such as Martha Gellhorn, who, in her 60-year career, covered the Spanish Civil War, Second World War - she was the only woman to land at Normandy on D-Day - Vietnam War, Arab-Israel conflicts and the civil wars in Central America.

Then there were the great journalists like James Cameron, John Pilger and Robert Fisk who were not afraid to upset great powers with their reports.

When I started as a naive junior reporter in a local newspaper office, I discovered that writing up the results from the WRI monthly knitted tea cosy competition was a long way from the frontline of any conflict, unless you made a mistake and were caught between the wrath of the editor and the fury of an irate WRI minutes secretary.

But it was the start of a job that, even in today’s beleaguered industry, has been hugely satisfying - no two days are the same and even after all these years I never cease to be amazed at what people get up to, not always in the privacy of their own homes.

However, to get back to what got me thinking in the first place, there was the assumption that I no longer had any ambition to be anything other than what I was.

Well, I can tell you that while sometimes my age takes me by surprise, I’m not quite over the hill yet.

I still yearn for adventure - my new plan is to take off into the sunset on a two-wheeled world tour.

So my answer to that original question? I’ll get back to you when I’ve grown up.