‘Take a Chance on Me’ proved to be one of ABBA's most successful chart hits, becoming the group's seventh UK Number 1 (their third consecutive chart-topper in the country after ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ and ‘The Name of The Game’. It was also ABBA's final Number 1 in the UK of the 1970 and gives the group the distinction of being the act with the most chart-topping singles of the 1970s in the UK.
‘Take a Chance on Me’ also topped the charts in Austria, Belgium, Ireland and Mexico, and was a Top 3 hit in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Rhodesia, Switzerland, and the United States (also reaching Number 9 on the AC chart), where it allegedly sold more copies than ‘Dancing Queen’. ‘Take a Chance on Me’ also reached the Top 10 in France, Norway and South Africa.
Ho far any of us have come in this life, not one of us would ever have made it on our own. None of us would be where we are today or indeed become who we are without some person in our past who believed in us as an individual of worth and who was prepared to ‘take a chance on us’.
For some, it may well have been that teacher who helped us to advance in our school studies through his/her belief we would do well in life if we but give it our best effort. It might have been that sympathetic employer who was prepared to overlook our inexperience on our first week at work and was prepared to put down the damage we caused as merely being part of our learning curve in our employment career. It could have been someone as distant as a stranger you met only once briefly, but a person who changed your attitude towards life immeasurably; or perhaps the closest of friends whom you trusted with your life and darkest secrets, a person who loved you so much that he/she was the only one who was prepared to hurt you by telling you a valuable truth you found painful to hear or accept.
Few of us know how mighty the consequences of our words and actions with others are on them in the long run; for either good or bad. Most of us approach life from our own standpoint and position and we impact others in all manner of ways; many inconsequential but some, highly significant.
My attitude, future actions, beliefs and character moulding was undoubtedly positively affected by two teachers of mine when I was younger than ten years of age who educationally helped me to understand that there was no boundary to my intelligence and knowledge that was beyond my own belief. God bless Mr McNamara and Mrs Brennan.
There was also the local grocer who caught me stealing from his shop when I was a light-fingered 15- year-old, and who, instead of handing me over to the police or my parents for a good hiding, gave me a Saturday morning job in his greengrocer’s shop on Windybank Estate. God bless you, Mr Northrop. You are the person who turned me from lawbreaker to thief-taker, from poacher to gamekeeper and was largely responsible for me becoming a Probation Officer for the last 27 years working years of my life.
There were also the many girls during my romantic teens, whose charms and sexually alluring ways taught me that I loved the temptations of life and the sweet smell and touch of a woman’s body far too much ever to become the kind of priest I once thought I might aspire to be, had I joined the priesthood as once planned.
Please bear in mind that the firstborn male in every Irish Roman Catholic family is usually part-prepared for one-day entering the priesthood. I once heard from a travelling Romany that this Irish Catholic practice was one way that the parents of all large families who had sinned greatly prior to and after marriage could be expunged of all past sin and secure themselves a seat in heaven.
It was the constant pleasurable temptations of my teenage experiences with these young women that eventually persuaded me to remain close companion to the human flesh, and strongly suggested that I would always remain tempted to stray too far from the spiritual path were I ever to walk the road of priesthood and try to remain celibate in thought, word and deed. It would be truthful to say that these young women who shared my teenage relationships were also prepared to ‘take a chance on me’ that I wouldn’t ruin their future prospects of marriage when a more reliable young man who was ready to get married came along and offered them a more settled way of life.
I was a Probation Officer who was to go on and specialise in ways of working that undoubtedly produced excellent results regionally and nationally, but my work carried significant risk occasionally that some professional workers would consider unacceptable. For example, one cannot work at all with the most hurt, the most abused, the most depressed, the most emotionally disturbed and the most suicidal among society without incurring increased risk if that work fails, after hopes have been raised of possible/probable success if they do what is asked of them and positively engage in the treatment programme on offer. One cannot realistically positively change behaviour patterns that have been unhealthily operative for forty years or more, or ease the pain of a lifetime’s sexual and physical abuse since childhood by one’s own father within a six-month weekly-course of effective work alone, without as much ‘homework’ being carried on between courses by the group member. My group work was essentially a new lifestyle that would have to be constantly practised to be reinforced.
I also had to learn that to teach non-assertive marriage partners (overwhelmingly downtrodden women) to become assertive and not to accept second-best in life when better was available, often produced separation and divorce when the other partner couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt to their newfound marital situation.
All significant work in life requires significant determination to succeed, significant commitment to the purpose and role and also carries with it a significant risk should that work fail. I also discovered that there were some people whose over-busy minds would just not enable them to relax. Paradoxically, ‘trying to relax’ cannot never produce a relaxed state of mind and the more one tries the less likely one will ever relax. As deep relaxation acted as the bedrock of all the work and methods I used to follow, it sometimes became necessary to hypnotise a client in order to get them across the first base. As there is no certificate of competency in hypnotherapy, I simply had to learn this skill by whatever means possible. I later discovered that I always possessed the skill had I but known.
The more successful my work became over the years and the more advanced I became as a practitioner, the more my employer needed to assess my methods and follow up on my long-term research. Some of my senior colleagues were pleased with my success, some were doubtful of the ethics of my methods used and some were even resentful that they held not the knowledge to accurately assess it. I offered to undertake monthly supervision sessions under a Senior Psychologist, Senior Psychiatrist and Senior Behaviourist, but they were unprepared to pay for such oversight being executed outside the Probation Service. At the time when my group work was at its most successful, I risked my employers removing my right to practise in the way I did.
It was at this time when I was visited by the then Chief Probation Officer of West Yorkshire, Bill Western.
I approached my meeting with the big boss in some trepidation, but I need never have feared the outcome. Bill Western was a committed Christian and a man that believed that all things outside heaven and earth can be understood by mere mortals. He assessed that my work results so far, my continued belief in the success of my methods practised along with my extensive commitment, was impressive enough to give me the okay to continue with it.
From that moment on, I became the only Probation Officer in West Yorkshire whose working methods was not appraised monthly, as was the norm throughout the British Isles. This remained so for the following 15 years, with a mere five-minute perfunctory supervisory session with my Senior Probation Officer thereafter.
Had not Bill Western expressed his faith in me and grated me permission to carry on in my work; had he not been prepared ‘TO TAKE A CHANCE ON ME’, much of the ground-breaking work I was to engage in thereafter would never have happened to me. God bless you, Bill Western for expressing your faith in me to succeed.
All of these individuals who were prepared to ‘take a chance on me’ from primary school level to the end of my Probation Officer career at the age of 52 years, helped to make possible everything positive and good that I was able to achieve during those years, along with everything positive and good those people I helped have helped others to achieve in turn ever since. Goodness, that comes from on high form the ripples of every stream that flows between the arms of mankind, nature and God.
Love and peace. Bill xxx