I have always been a firm believer that life is a lot more fun when you say yes. I didn’t get the nickname of Dr Yes at Virgin for nothing! Arthur Hicks, who wrote one of the funniest airline complaint letters you are ever likely to read, is another person who loves to say yes when opportunity knocks. After he told me his story of how he ended up here, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you all. From getting his geography muddled, to getting a dream job, this is how Arthur learned the value of saying yes…
“Once upon a rainy October afternoon, whilst working as a tennis coach at Virgin Active in London, I was driving home from the local supermarket when I received one of the most important and bizarre telephone calls of my life.
Trundling along in my 1972 VW Beetle, windscreen wipers barely able to fend off the driving rain and surrounded by Sainsbury's shopping bags, there was never a more apt time for my phone to ring than as I was just approaching a roundabout.
I had recently met Richard Branson's son, Sam, at my tennis club and given him a few lessons. Upon seeing his name on the screen, I chose the only course of action available to me if I wished to answer the call. I drove straight onto the roundabout and parked.Sitting there, surrounded by groceries, deafened by the rain on the metal roof, the tooting of horns and less-than-pleasant advice offered to me by other motorists, the following conversation took place:
“Hi Arthur, it’s Sam. Are you busy?”
“No! Not at all, Sam! What can I do for you?”
“I was wondering if you have ever heard of Mecca?”
“Um...Yes, I believe Muslims pilgrimage across the Sahara Desert to get there, don’t they?”
“Ha Ha! Yeah, sure they do! Well would you be interested in working there?”
“Working there as what?"
“As a tennis coach.”
Never having spent any time in the Middle East, nor knowing anything about the Muslim faith seemed to be small, insignificant details. The prospect of Sunny Saudi Arabia, compared wet wintry London proved too inviting.
“Yeah, okay Sam. Let’s do it!”
After our family dinner that evening, with a look of confused disbelief at my day’s events, my father pulled out his laptop and typed "Richard Branson, Mecca" into the search engine.
"You, my son, are an idiot."
Dazzling pictures of white sandy beaches, fluffy clouds in bright azure skies and turtles swimming in crystal-clear turquoise waters appeared before my eyes. Winding pathways lined with exotic flowers, giant tortoises roaming freely, merrymakers dancing under the stars, kite-surfers sailing by immaculate reefs whilst a flock of flamingos circle overhead. And of course, two beautiful tennis courts lined by coconut-laden palm trees.”
Arthur spent two and a half years doing a wonderful job coaching tennis on Necker for our guests, my family and yours truly. He kindly described it as “the best tennis-coaching job in the world”. Mike, the current tennis coach who organises the Necker Cup and can be seen doing a bicycle kick in this video, thankfully agrees!
The moral of the story? Life is often more interesting when you say yes, yes yes!