Aversion. I hated my first name. Would have liked Tank (picked up from Wizard); sounded more masculine. I shudder at this now.
Post-divorce 1. My Dad got to entertain his three sons on Sunday afternoons. Mostly he drove us somewhere dull, read the newspaper, then dozed. Occasionally he visited an antiques dealer friend and on one such occasion I took my trumpet. Uninvited I played a hymn tune. To faint applause.
Post-divorce 2. Or we visited Grannie R, wearing her hat, waiting to be driven to Idle Baptist Church. Grannie R was forgetful, tended to repeat anecdotes. Cruelly, my Dad drew her attention to this; I admit I too was irritated. Luckily we’re rarely visited here in Hereford; so no poetic justice.
Mendicancy at the Telegraph. At Christmas it was traditional for one of the three tea-boys to beg for cash from the editorial staff. As senior tea-boy I found this demeaning, adding, “Besides there are plenty of them (ie, journalists) I don’t like.” Fred, the beloved sub-editor and who taught me much, stood in for me.
Getting used to London’s underground system. My first magazine job in the Great Wen; I was always late and knew the commissionaire took the names of latecomers. Took to entering the offices by the back door. Not knowing this was monitored by another – albeit invisible – commissionaire.
Sartorial blockage. I wore delicate elastic-sided boots at my first US job. It snowed and the company boss growlingly commanded I buy galoshes. In the UK galoshes are worn by the effete, the very old or the enfeebled so I ignored him. A week later I heard a voice, “Still no galoshes.” My work colleagues were horrified. “Disobeying the Old Man. Oh-oh.” Give the bastard credit; he’d hired me because I was foreign.