Well having returned to the hallowed halls of QVC this last week, I hardly seem to have had time to draw breath! Thanks so much for all your lovely comments, and I hope that the various weddings, days out, and special occasions you told me about have all run smoothly.
The big date in the diary last week was Tuesday, and it dawned grey, windy and wet… not quite as poetic as I would have liked, but truthful. I had to set my alarm to rise early, and then get Sam up and out of his 'pit' so we could drive to Derby University. I think I mentioned that we've been touring around the Midlands and Oxfordshire to see what's what, and this is the fourth of his choices.
It's the same one that Lucy attended back in 2005, and not only did she get a great degree, but she loved it there and felt very much at home. What cheers me is that it's only two hours up the M1 so happy days! I have to say both Sam and I were very impressed with the course which is set up in the new campus, complete with new equipment and a really enthusiastic tutor.
Of course, Sam now has to decide which will be his first choice… and I have to try and avoid thinking about him leaving…
When I left school…
Don't know about you, but when I left school University wasn't really something I ever gave a great deal of though to. Dad had been to Manchester, Mum went straight to work, and when I was studying it was one of those options I thought was reserved for the incredibly clever, or those who attended Grammer School.
Now it seems to be a far fairer system with a great deal more choice when it comes to chosen subjects or course, although when talking to Julia, she told me that most of those available are over-subscribed this year..! So I'm keeping everything crossed for Sam.
When I was 16, Mum was bringing the three of us up on her own, so in our family it was a case of decide which career path you wanted to pursue and take A levels, or get a job. At 16, I couldn't decide, but following a number of interviews locally at the Milk Marketing Board (don't think it exists any more) and also a well known High Street Bank, I opted to work in London at Shell Centre on the South Bank in
their Public Affairs department.
I still didn't have much of an idea where the job would take me, but our careers lessons at school hadn't been that helpful… one job suggestion was to be an Egg Packer – required skills? Nimble fingers… :)
Mum did bend over backwards to get me an interview with an independent careers advisor after I'd told her I'd really love to read the news on TV or radio. When I got to meet the somewhat officious individual I
bottled it, and said I wanted to be a cookery demonstrator in a store… I didn't get an O Level to cover that one sadly!
My first jobs
I loved working in London and used to cycle to the station every morning to get the train from Hampton Court Station into Waterloo. Funny to think I was only 16 and yet I had absolute panic attacks about letting Lucy (at the same age) get a train into Milton Keynes on her own!
I moved from Shell Centre to a lovely book publishers in Bedford Square when I was 18 and started working in their Publicity Department. I thought it was a terrific job – basically pulling together press packs for authors, arranging magazine, radio and TV interviews for them and, of course, signing sessions. Virtually everyone there was a graduate, some schooled at Roedean and Stowe, so I felt even more fortunate that
they felt I could handle the job and would fit in.
I'll never forget when we published Sophia Loren's autobiography and I set up the signing session at Selfridges. So many people turned up they had to close off part of Oxford Street!!!! The excitement was awesome.
Not only did I get a signed copy of the book (left), but was also given a pair of Sophia's stockings (complete with foot chippings)… eeeuw! Not for my use I hasten to add, but to be auctioned at the Help a London Child event! Did I get to meet her? No… but never mind eh :)
I did, however, meet the late but very lovely Barry Sheene, Spike Milligan, Melvyn Bragg, Pam Ayres and a host of other notables, but the highlight for me was the night of our Christmas party when Stan Barstow arrived. His book 'A kind of Loving' which was made into a film starring Alan Bates, was incredible. An insight into life in the 50s and beautifully written. It was actually one of a trilogy, and as I worked for the publisher I had them all… and he signed them all.
I spent a long time talking to him and loved his honesty and modesty. It's a night I'll never forget and the books have moved with me to every home I've lived in and will always have pride of place on my bookshelf. Well worth a read…
It has been a somewhat circuitous route that has led me to QVC, but all the jobs I've had, and the experiences I've gained have helped me move on and into the next stage of my life – if that makes sense.
Do you remember your first job? Where it was, or some of the characters you met there? Maybe you still work for the same company? I'd LOVE to hear your stories. Maybe I could pull them all together and write a book myself!!
I thought I'd leave you with this photograph of an amazing rainbow (above left) that appeared right the way across the sky on Saturday evening. I couldn't fit the whole thing in so took both ends – I'm sure my clever editor can make it look more complete though :)
Have a wonderful week, and I look forward – as always – to hearing from you. Makes my day.
Love Ali xxx