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Guest Blog

What one piece of advice would you give to younger women?

Graham Smith

Kathy McNally, who spends part of her retirement on cruise liners as a Guest Speaker lecturing on her favourite subjects - spying and espionage; answers today's question...

“I am usually reluctant to give advice it assumes too much responsibility for outcomes. But there is one thing that I can say with absolute certainty; nothing that you learn is ever wasted.t doesn’t matter what it is, the best way to make an omelette or how to create a website, the day will come when you’ll say to yourself, “I’m glad I learned that”. If you are bored or aimless or depressed, start learning something new and it may help you to separate from those negative feelings that can be so crushing.

Of course there are subjects you have to learn to pass exams or progress in your job. But beyond that, learning does not have to be classroom based. There are so many subjects, so many methods, it’s possible to be in a permanent state of learning and that’s just how it should be.

Languages have always fascinated me. No, I don’t have an aptitude for learning foreign languages; I find it just as difficult as you do. But I love being able to communicate, even if it’s just to say good morning and order a coffee. A couple of years ago, I missed a flight, and hence the ship I was contracted to speak on. So I had to catch up at the next port. Arriving in Italy, I took a taxi from Naples airport to the Cruise Port. My Italian was limited to giving urgent directions. The driver’s English was non-existent. After a few false starts we discovered that we both spoke French. I explained that a young driver, drunk and reckless, had caused an accident outside Southampton. We shook our heads at the behaviour of ‘les jeunes.’ I even managed a Gallic shrug. He put the pedal to the metal.

At the port of Naples, as I dragged my suitcase along the dock, he shouted ‘Kathy! Ciao, au revoir, good luck’. Laughing with relief to see my ship in port, I shouted back “Grazie, merci, thanks!” Memo to self: borrow more language tapes fromlibrary.

So that’s my one piece of advice; start learning. Unless you’re brain dead there has to be something you’re interested in. Being ignorant is not smart. You don’t need to have a long term goal, just start with a subject that arouses your curiosity; archaeology, cooking, drawing, space travel, the opportunities are endless. Whatever you choose, one day it’s a certainty that you will say to yourself, “I’m glad I learned that.”






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