The Blog

Having a Positive Attitude in Life and Love

There are some days when you listen to the outstanding Kirsty Young on the BBC Radio Four's Desert Island Discs that you wish the programme would go on forever.

Not only is the guest interesting and are the questions penetrating, but you also like most - obviously not all - of the musical choices that he or she has picked to take to their lonely island when they are eventually cast away. Naturally, there are some programmes or guests that you find you have little in common with and are uninteresting or boring. But that, dare I say, is not Young's fault: she is always so captivating and interested and it's very difficult to please all BBC listeners all the time.

However, this past Sunday (and the programme is repeated on Friday mornings) the person being questioned in the hot seat was Dame Carol Black. She, among other things, advises the Government on health issues and is currently also principal of the all-girls Newnham College in Cambridge. Those who tuned into the programme will have heard that Black, who is going to be 77 this year, still goes running in order to keep fit and although she came to medicine relatively late compared to other students (aged 25 rather than 18) her motto is "go for it" - otherwise in life you will regret it.

And naturally there were many on social media who applauded her "can do" attitude of get up and go. Some even said listening to her was the "perfect" Sunday morning.

But what struck me more poignantly was when she was asked by Young how she had managed her work-life balance. She neatly side-stepped that question. It's always difficult for women to juggle having a successful family and a successful career, and this seems something that Young is often curious about when she has women guests who have had high-powered or high-profile careers.

And naturally, there are many women who have voluntarily given up their careers and made a definite and positive decision to be stay-at home mothers. They too are nothing but successful, but sadly, often I hear stories from these women that their husbands don't understand what sacrifices they have made and have no idea what's it like being a full-time mum.

But back to Black: I can only assume that she had difficulties along the way and she alluded to a failed marriage. She admitted that she had thought of being single, or on her own when aged 59 she went to a dinner at Cambridge University and there she met the man who was later to become her husband - Dr Christopher Morley, a vice-master at Trinity College in Cambridge.

From listening to her, I didn't get the impression she was looking for romance or a companion, yet it came her way. And it is clear how happy and content she had been since.

I naturally wanted to hear more about the personal happiness that this couple managed to achieve and what advice she might have had for others who might have given up on finding a soul mate or companion in life, but then found the right person at the right time.

Perhaps it's luck - perhaps, it's as Black says it's the "go for it" attitude in life - take chances in life, otherwise you might have some regrets as you get older. Perhaps more people should adopt the "go for it" way with panache and determination, rather than the opposite.