In my mid-twenties I started learning German. Not sure why. I just fancied
it – perhaps feeling that, having earned a university degree (late), I could
plug another ‘life gap’ and learn a language. I went to the Goethe-Institut in
Manchester and borrowed some tapes. And I made good progress. Soon I
felt well on my way – building up vocabulary, understanding verb
construction and dealing with grammar.
But then I just stopped. One day I missed a lesson and that was that. Of
course, 20 years have passed, so if I’d kept it up I’d be fluent by now.
In my early thirties I took up sailing. I was living in New York at the time
and had some great lessons in the harbour using Liberty and Ellis Island as
tacking points. And I was good at it – my instructor thought me a ‘natural’.
But, again, I jus