Alpesh Patel’s Political Sketchbook: Ask What You Can Do

Alpesh Patel Wednesday 22nd December 2021 07:50 EST

Forgive my self-indulgence. But I hope my story will inspire others. I this week received my OBE for Services to the Economy and International Trade.


Don't be fooled by the picture.  Like most people, I look around and wonder how did I get here?


That letter from the Prime Minister when I was 29? Why? How did I get called to represent my country? Or what if the Principal of that College at Oxford University was not in my talk and suggested I stand to be elected Fellow that year.


I simply cannot imagine my life without the people who helped make it happen.


I would be sitting at home on that day, staring into space and thinking about what could've gone wrong when an idea struck--if only someone else had taken a chance instead of shutting them down early with rejections! So many doors were opened for me due to one person's courage in pushing forward despite their reservations; if you're reading this right now, thank YOU because chances like these don't come often enough or easily, which means they shouldn't either.


Would I be a bestseller without the help of 24 rejected book proposals? Or how about when Bloomberg Global Head Of Television watched CNN and offered me my own show because they liked what I had written on finance. The doors would not have opened up for all those years if it weren't for people saying no first!


What if the 50th Barristers chambers had decided, like the others, to reject me? Or my Headmaster had not written that letter which got me in? Or my Law tutor not written to tell me never to give up and what he saw in me? What if my Oxford politics tutor had not bothered writing the same? How many times would giving up have been the easier choice. And what if I decided not to accept the calls from Government time and again to represent my country. A privilege yes, but it’s a lot easier just to have focussed on making money for myself instead.


And what if I had not given that talk, and that woman was not in the audience, a stranger she was then, who told me this day belongs to me and would be, should come my way. I'm no fool. I married her.


Is it all chance? Is chance just genes and grace?


You keep gathering people you don't want to let you down, not because you believe in you, but because they do. And when those people are in Government and asking you to represent your country - you don't want to let your country down.


Do not be fooled by the picture. Read my CV of failures first. It isn't ever over.


I stand on the bones of all those defeats. And many more never spoken of. No, I dance on the bones of those defeats. When you win, nothing hurts. They never see the tears of fear or sadness, only of joy, don't they? God's delays are not God's denials.


To those who took what was mine, who built walls not to let me in, closed doors which rightfully should have been opened. To you, I say, my God, my Queen, and my country believe in me.


But there is solemnity. Of those to whom so much is given, so much is expected— the debt of honour, born of privilege. I shall at some point pause to enjoy it. Always make sure for everyone left behind, you are never less worthy than they. And a lot are left behind and forgotten.


Those that went before, the shopkeepers they mocked, the people with the funny accent, smelly food they laughed at, and people they abused. They all built a reputation on hard work and dignity that opened doors for me because it gave me a brand on the backs of their labours: my father, my family, and my community. I stand on their shoulders. But it was me to whom they gave the medal. It should be them. (But I'll keep it, I'm no fool).


And I dedicated this to the mothers in my life. My wife, the mother of my child, my own mother, and my aunts, who, like mothers to me, raised me and to  my grandmother. To the mothers, for the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.

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