Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Going up . . . !

Could you do with a laugh? If so, you might enjoy this story.

Maggie came to tea today and we chatted happily for a couple of hours. Listening to her many entertaining theatrical experiences brought back memories of my own. No, not of the theatre, but of working in film and television.
Would she, I asked as I filled her cup, like me to tell her how it had all begun?
Sitting back in her chair, and sipping her tea, Maggie said that she would . . . so I did . . .

Have I ever told you how my career in television and the film industry was triggered by a fortuitous encounter with a tea-trolley?

It was many years ago. I was very young. I was also totally lacking in ambition. My chief enthusiasm in life was taking an active part in the amateur dramatics put on by our local group in North Kent. I loved amateur dramatics. After being trained as a journalist, the job that I'd been offered on a national magazine had fallen through. What I needed, or so I thought, was a job in London that was close to Charing Cross. A job that, first and foremost, would enable me to reach the station speedily at the end of the day, and thence home in time for rehearsals.
My journalistic training didn't really matter. Any job that I liked - any employer that liked me- would be equally suitable.

So it was that, on a fateful day in March, I took the train to London and walked down the Strand.
No potential jobs leaped out to greet me.
I reached the Aldwych . . . and there, at the end of Kingsway, looking very shiny and new, was Associated Television, a new company to join the ITV network. My heart lifted. This was more like it! What better than to work on television dramas during the day and return to amateur dramatics in the evening?

It was a very large, glass building, and it was hard to make out which was the main entrance. However, peering through the glass, I saw a row of lifts and a tea-lady with a trolley. Quickly pushing my way through the swing doors, I joined the tea-lady in the first lift that arrived. The tea-trolley, it appeared, was needed at the third floor. Accordingly, up to the Third Floor I went, together with the refreshments.

On arriving at the Third Floor, it was a little surprising to be personally greeted at the lift. A tall man came up to me smiling warmly. I was very welcome, he said, would I accompany him down the corridor. This was even more surprising. Perhaps this was what happened in television? I'd never had anything to do with television before. The tall man led me into an office and invited me to take a chair. I was then questioned by another man who told me that he, too, was pleased to see me, and that it was good to know I wanted to join the company.

I was growing increasingly puzzled. The warm welcome was wonderful - if unexpected. But how on earth did they know that I wanted a job? However, it seemed wisest not to ask, so I restricted myself to smiling politely and answering their questions as fully as I could. An hour later, after being escorted back to the lift by my still-smiling companion, I left the company secure in the knowledge that I would be returning in two weeks' time to work in the Planning Department.

Only after I had been happily employed by ATV for several weeks did I learn the truth. Apparently, in my innocence and ignorance, I had entered the building by the wrong door! Had I walked a few yards further up Kingsway I would have come to the main entrance. Here I would have met up with the bevy of applicants who had been invited that day to apply for a whole range of new jobs in the company. These applicants were being weeded out on the Ground Floor, progressing from there to the First Floor, and, finally, only the successful applicants were being asked to go up to the Third Floor. Had I joined the other applicants on the Ground Floor, I doubt whether my progress would have stretched to the lift. As it was . . . all thanks to spotting the tea-trolley . . . a very happy fifteen-year career in the television and film industry had begun!

You think my Guardian Angel had a hand in all of that?
You're probably right!