The Spain Notebooks

Published on 24 February 2024 at 17:07

My brain has a problem storing pictures, and I have no images in my head, just words, so my notebooks are like photo albums, and always bring back memories, often long forgotten.

I found an old notebook from my time in Marbella, when I started my first training company, when the rollercoaster began.

 At that time I was a publisher, and loved it, loved many of the people like family, and so I knew I would have to leave, sooner or later. It turned out to be sooner, going in to my office early one morning I had a revelation, , like a voice in my head saying 'you don't belong here' and I knew it was true, and I didn't want to belong, handed in my notice and left that day.

I took a tiny office in an old Post Office building, in Clerkenwell, with a desk and a phone and a filing cabinet, and started my first business. I think it was called The Original Training Company.

I made a hundred calls a day, at least, every day, but my prospect list stayed humiliatingly blank, so when my phone rang one day, my first incoming call, and I got an offer of some work, I jumped in without a second thought. It was a six week gig, to write a training programme and train a property sales team in Marbella, Spain, six weeks work, with an apartment, living expenses and car as well. I closed my office, let go my flat in Soho, packed my bags, said some goodbyes, and headed for the airport for an early morning flight.

There was a car waiting for me at Malaga airport, a bright orange Opel Sport, and then I was on Death Highway, the coast road to Marbella, the roof down, feeling like the early morning sun was shining mostly on me, feeling more alive than ever before, feeling like the world was mine, thankful,  feeling sort of golden.

I was at the property development hours before my meeting, but ran straight into the Sales Director, Mia, and she took me through to her office, got me a cup of coffee, and told me the news.

"Alisdair, I'm sorry about this, and I can't tell you why, but something has happened and in an hour I'm sacking the entire sales team, and I have your contract here, and your sales programme, but they only came through from my agent in England yesterday, who's also no longer with us, so I didn't have time to get in touch, but I'm afraid it's not going to happen."

I didn't know what to say, so didn't say anything, just nodded, and tried to remember how to breath. Then something came to me, and I heard myself voice it.

"Mia, I'm sorry, that's tough, are you ok?"

"Yes", she said, with a small smile, sounding surprised "thank you, I'll be fine, and it'll all work out, I'll have to start over. Look, I've put you in a studio apartment for a week, and you can keep the car, and I'll come by and catch up with you later."

Then I was in the apartment, sat outside in a courtyard, flowers up the walls, sitting at a little table by the plunge-pool, drinking coffee, smoking a pack of L & B cigarettes, trying to think what to do, and coming up blank, not feeling anything, just numb and alone, in a false paradise, on the edge of bleak, my notebook open on the table, blank, my pencil blunt.

I didn't know then I would be in Spain for nearly a couple of years, or that I would have another gig at another resort before the day was out, or that I would meet a sales legend, Dead Ted, who I'll tell you about one of these Saturdays, and I'd learn more about sales than just about anyone, and create enough content to train salespeople all over the world for years and years.

Numb as I was, I didn't know I'd meet Janet, who I loved, and buy a beach bar with her, and make a mint from all night parties, or that I would win backgammon tournaments all along the coast, or that I would get addicted to over-the-counter amphetamine diet pills, and get over it and through it, or that I would get stronger than I knew in my head, be happy alone, happier with someone, and that this was just exactly what I needed to be ready to really begin my business.

I didn't know any of this, it was yet to be, but in those few bleak unknowing hours, sat there alone, I tore up my return ticket and wrote in my notebook.

'I'm not going back, I don't know how, and knowing that I feel ok, better than that really, alive, so the way this is must be the way it should be, maybe this is my time anyway, maybe this is perfect.'

I don't remember writing it, it's not much anyway, but I remember a knock on the door, and Mia was there, with a letter of recommendation and a list of contacts along the coast, an envelope of cash, paying up my contract and, I think, a bottle of champagne.

Dear reader, whatever you do, go all in, you are better than you know, trust yourself.

Be back next Saturday, love you.

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