Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....
Too many Journalists ...
I left school aged 16 in 1964 and had no idea what sort of job I might do. The school careers master, bumbling Mr Newton looked at me and scratched his head and sighed loudly when I arrived at his office for guidance. For all I know he still there, scratching his head, for he never progressed from shaking his head and muttering to himself.
A few days passed and I found myself with Mr Ahier, the Youth Employment Officer in his office at the bottom of Shirley High Street. He must have spoken to Mr Newton, because was sighing, scratching and muttering all at once.
“Well boy what are your ambitions, what do you want to achieve in life?"
My mind wandered off somewhere distant.
“What sort of work do you want to do?" Mr Ahier persisted, despite my floundering.
I had no ambitions and no idea what I wanted to do.
“I want to be a journalist!" I suddenly blurted out. I don't know why, it suddenly popped into my head.
"Too many journalists “
slurped Mr. Ahier slurping tea from his saucer, an old fashioned thing to do even in those days
I ventured that I had worked in a pet shop on Saturdays and was promptly packed off to Mayes department store by the Bargate in the town centre for an interview with the formidable Miss Jossaume, personnel manager.
Yes, she was formidable, a word which could have been created specifically for Miss Elisabeth Jossaume.
With her tight permed hair, stiff neck. Pebble glasses and thick bright fuchsia lipstick she radiated menace. She sighed, crossed her legs and folded her arms. I noticed she was wearing tartan socks and brogue shoes.
“Well boy what are your ambitions. What do you want to achieve in life?"
Looking up I expected to see Mr Ahier, but it was still Miss Jossaume, already showing body language indicating the interview was already drawing to a close. Without waiting for answer she continued by asking me how well I had done with my GCE exams. I answered honestly, possibly modestly and in due course actually accurately.
“I think I failed all 5 exams”.
The door was shown to me without delay, with Miss Jossaume sending me on my way with,
“You are clearly NOT the sort of person we are looking for.
Mr Ahier wasn't too bothered and sent me the following day to Tyrrell and Green department store; imagine my dismay to find myself face to face with Miss Jossaume.
She had changed jobs that week and now sat before me once more. The interview was an action replay
of the one before, with one difference. It was obvious to me that I hadn't been recognised by Miss Pebble glasses and to her all spotty youths looked alike.
My confidence grew.
“I am confident I have passed ALL my exams" I informed her.
This time she walked me to the door, patted my arm and cooed
“You are clearly JUST the sort of person we are looking for”.
In 1976, some 12 years later, whilst manager of MONOMART DIY store I met Nigel Bird, another frustrated journalist, given the same advice by Mr Ahier, I believe he went into catering. I hope not.
In July 2007 I was at a Barbecue with the church and I entered into idle conversation with the vicar about all the press cover concerning the NHS.
At that time the Daily Echo was running a particularly aggressive pot-boiler about how the NHS was finally on its last legs.
Then he turned history full circle by delivering boldly.
“Too many journalists “
Could Mr Ahier really have been correct all those years ago when he launched those words at me.
There is a nice post script added to this account of events, for after the passing of 43 years in 2007 I was beginning to imagine that these events of my youth and my honing and embellishing the facts into an entertaining yarn on my part, I made the acquaintance of a friend of a friend while on holiday in Jersey.
This dear lady’s face lit up and she exclaimed.
“Mr Ahier? what a coincidence, that was my uncle Vivian”.