As we were finalising this issue I was struck that, quite by chance, there’s an inspiring theme running through it with several of the brilliant people featured. In their own ways they’ve all become so much more than those around them – and, indeed, society at large – would ever have presumed.
Take our cover star, Joe Wicks. As a child he got the message – literally and subliminally – that no one expected much from a boy from a rough estate with an addict father and a struggling young mother. Contrast that with the man he has become: one who discovered a passion and has flown with it in ways that have made him richer than he could have imagined. In 2020, he’s used that talent to nourish the whole country. His energy has helped families cope through lockdown, and he’s used his clout to help pour hundreds of thousands of pounds into NHS charities and, as we discover in our interview, literally saved at least one life. I can’t get my head around what we’d all have lost out on if Joe had believed his own pre-written script.
Then there’s the fabulous Judy Murray. I’m staggered to think of all the career roadblocks this pint-sized, softly spoken woman has bulldozered out of the way. Her passion for tennis has lifted so many people coming up behind her. She’s created champions, and not just in her own offspring. Yet she has always had to fight against other people’s prejudged limitations. One rude fellow tennis coach once questioned, ‘What could she possibly offer when she has two kids?’ Which will never not be hilarious.
Even being born to privilege doesn’t save you from such pigeonholing. The term ‘It-girl’ comes dripping with derision. But Tamara Beckwith Veroni and Chloe Delevingne are two society queens who don’t mind what you call them, because, as we find, they’re quietly – powerfully – raising funds and awareness for ‘embarrassing’ women’s health issues that very few people dare to discuss.
To some extent, we all fight the predicted narrative of our lives. Friends and teachers did look doubtful when I, a working-class girl from a drab Sydney suburb, shared her dream of working in British magazines. None of us had seen that happen, so it’s natural that people thought it never could.
I feel uplifted and inspired by people like Joe, Tamara, Chloe and Judy – all from different walks of life – who found the courage to be more than they were labelled. As we near the end of 2020 and reflect on this crazy year, let’s hope they inspire more people to write their own stories.
A few things I’m coveting this week