Frederick Forsyth and I have quite a lot in common, including nationality, gender, birthday (we were both born on August 25, for those of you who prefer giving to receiving,) occupation and Rolex watches. The latter of these because he has one and I don’t; and the reason I don’t have one is because he does.
Am I going too fast? Okay, pour yourself a glass of wine, and I’ll explain how Frederick Forsyth robbed me of my dream to become the proud owner of a Rolex Oyster.
It was a dark and stormy night…
Oops! No, it wasn’t. Let’s start again.
I have always been an avid reader of the news (that’s better!) and in addition to having read the newspaper from cover to cover since the age of about twelve onwards, I have also regularly read the Time magazine from about seventeen years old. One day (I must have been about nineteen at the time,) I opened the Time mag. and found myself staring at a double-page ad for Rolex watches. Featured in this ad was my hero, Mr. Forsyth, looking extremely elegant in a well-tailored suit with a beautiful, gold Rolex Oyster peeking coyly from his sleeve.
I was smitten!
I wanted one!
But, I didn’t just want one; I wanted one on the same terms as Mr. Forsyth.
I decided then and there that the moment my first book was published I would treat myself to a Rolex watch, and I nurtured this objective as a motivating force for the subsequent twenty-three years; never once doubting that I would eventually get published. And then, finally, at the age of forty-two, my first published book, a suspense novel, was distributed to the bookstores.
My first reaction was to grab my credit card and rush to the nearest Rolex merchant, but before I even got as far as the front door I began to reconsider. Was it fair to consider myself an equal to the eminent Frederick Forsyth? All I had done, after all, was simply set the first foot on the same path. Wasn’t placing myself on the same pedestal a shade presumptuous?
Yes, it bloody-well was, I decided.
So, I upgraded my objective. When I first saw the ad in the Time magazine, Mr. Forsyth had just released his fourth book, The Dogs of War, so I decided that I would postpone my purchase until I, too, had published four books. Surely that would mean the publishers had confidence in me and I could consider myself a real writer on par with my hero, wouldn’t it? Then—and only then—could I wear the watch safe in the knowledge that I had earned it.
It took nearly six years for my fourth book to see the light of day. And, not only did it see the light of day, it even went into a second print-run before it hit the bookstores on pre-orders alone!
I’d done it! I was a successful writer…! With a self-satisfied smirk on my face I began fingering my credit card.
And that’s when those old, familiar misgivings began to set in.
Did I really think I was in Frederick Forsyth’s class?
Would I really be able to look at myself in the mirror knowing I had presumptuously equated myself to the master of the genre?
Wasn’t even considering such a purchase somewhat narcissistic?
Two weeks ago I published my fifty-second book, and I still don’t own a Rolex.
And so, Rolex SA and all of your proud and dedicated employees, I extend to you my apologies. As much as I covet one of your beautiful pieces of machinery, they must remain at the pinnacle of everything I stand for today as a symbol of motivation, and I just cannot bring myself to purchase one. If you want somebody to blame, I suggest you call Mr. Forsyth.
The Rolex Oyster; my Holy Grail.