Trevor always said he didn’t believe in luck. Good things don’t happen because fate decrees them, they happen because you work hard to make them happen. Because you believe in yourself, and your own ability to succeed. He regularly quoted Theodore Herzl to anyone within earshot, and later, Jean-Luc Picard. After a while, the two intermingled. “If you will it… you can make it so.” Trevor wasn’t any more Jewish than he was a 24th century starship captain. He just had a thing for what he called “inspirationals”.
Theodore Herzl died of a heart attack aged 44.
Twenty-seven years I’ve worked in that office. Twenty-five of them in the desk right next to Trevor. He was nineteen when he first arrived at Selly-Sales; me, I’d just turned twenty-five. I still remember his first day. Getting that flaming Life Chart thing out of his briefcase, blu-tacking it on the wall above his word-processor, snapping his fingers, “Let’s go!”
I have to admit, I laughed at him. I mean, that bloody list… it had his whole life planned out! By 21, BMW 3 series. By 23, wearing Armani’s and Versace’s to work. By 25, three bed semi. By 30, Porsche. Married by 29, first kid by 32, second by 35. Before his 40th, a chalet in Provence. Of course, he updated and upgraded as time went by. The semi became a waterside loft apartment; the Porsche: a 911; the second kid: twins (that update, after the fact). But not once did he scale down his expectations, and not once did he fail to achieve his goals.
At 50, Gianni Versace was shot dead on the steps of his Florida mansion.
Three weeks after his wedding to the former Miss Blackpool, Trevor became Sales Manager and they set him up in that big office overlooking the river. He hardly ever went in there. Kept his old desk on the sales floor, right next to mine. Wanted to stay in the thick of it, he said, where the action was. You ask me, he wanted to keep us all looking at that blasted Life Chart. All his ticked off successes, all his unstoppable aspirations. By now he’d taken to attaching little pictures of the things he wanted, after reading that book on visualisation and harnessing the power of positive thinking… whatever.
There was the vintage Fender Strat, torn from the pages of Total Guitar. If he was going to learn, better to do it on a classic.
There was that photo of him dressed in the Steve Irwin shorts, standing with his kids in front of the lion’s enclosure at Chessington World of Adventure. Not long after, he booked a safari in the Kruger National Park, and ordered another five pairs of those shorts from Millets.
Steve Irwin lost his life to a stingray, a few months shy of 45.
Then one day, there was the pier.
“It’s a little jetty off the Isle of Skye… I found the image online while I was researching something for Culbertson McQuarrie,” (our biggest client), “just fell in love with it instantly. So peaceful, so beautiful, so serene… Trudi and I are booked into a hotel up there in the autumn, we’re gonna find that pier, get up nice and early and watch the sun rise. Breathe in the stillness, get back to…” I’d already stopped listening. Over the years, I’d learnt to tune Trevor out. For my sanity. His jokes, his catchphrases, his bloody “inspirationals”…
“We’ll have a Moet et Chandon, please, waiter… do you keep it in a pretty cabinet?”
“Suck in that gut, soldier – there’s targets to hit!”
“If you will it… you can make it so.”
That photo though, I just couldn’t tune that out. Whenever Trevor was out meeting clients (always parking his car round the corner from their premises so they wouldn’t know just how much he was taking them for), I’d sit and fixate on that pier, and wonder just where I’d gone wrong. My Audi A4 is five years old; I can’t afford to upgrade. I’m over-extended on the mortgage. This year, Brenda and I managed two weeks in Portugal; we argued the whole time, and the kids had dodgy tummies. I badly needed some serenity in my life, and that photo… the wind stirring the waters, the cloud quilted mountains, the wasting afternoon sunlight… that photo became my escape pod. I could jack it all in tomorrow, or maybe not tomorrow, but as soon as the kids left home; I could jack it in and buy myself a B&B somewhere tranquil and remote like there… no, not somewhere like there. There. Right there. Get up nice and early and watch the sun rise. Breathe in the stillness, get back to…
Late October, when Trevor returned from his holiday, two things had happened. One, he’d cut his hair like Steve McQueen. (Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t look anything like Steve McQueen. But he looks more like Steve McQueen than you or I do.) Two, he’d put in an offer on an old fisherman’s cottage situated right on that harbour in Skye. Now he could fly up there any time he felt like it. Only 90 minutes to Inverness on a Friday afternoon. He’d let me rent it if I wanted, £250 all in.
Steve McQueen died of liver cancer in Mexico, the same age as Versace.
Trevor’s going up there again this weekend. So am I. His Life Chart’s all clear right now. Everything’s ticked off for the time being. I’m sure he’d add something else soon. Given the chance.