"There was a saying that the strength of a man’s steel was only known under the hammer of circumstance. If anyone had asked me a few hours ago, I would have said that nearly five years of boyhood had hammered me into constant fear and excessive caution. But now I realised it had done the opposite. It had shaped me into someone who stepped forwards and reached for what she wanted. It was too late for me to tuck my hands behind my back and wait like a good woman."