My background looked interesting at least on paper: born New Zealand, ‘O’ & ‘A’ Levels in England, short spell in Her Majesty’s Navy on the lower deck, good degree in Economics from Harvard USA. Plenty of sport. Went to Hollywood to become a famous actor but the film industry had gone away for the spagetti westerns. Met the famous Hal Roach though and had lunch with Cary Grant and Norman & Phoebe Ephron. So I became a market analyst in the Empire State Building, New York. Percentages were not my forte even so.
Back in England no-one was very interested. Interviewed by old farts in mahogany panelled Boardrooms but nothing came to anything. The City was a closed shop. Then I saw Joe Hyman was taking over the UK textile industry with the help of ICI and needed a Centre Group Economist. Viyella International in Saville Row, John Blackburn my leader. It was a big step to move from the ‘good ideas’ culture of New York to the ‘do it my way’ culture of London. I didn’t like it much. An outing was lecturing to the grey managers of ICI on the markets for polyester/cottons.
It was then I saw the ad. Become a trainee salesman with Rank Xerox. Starting salary (1965) £1500. Then the sky’s the limit. Hold on. I was earning £1500 as a trained Centre Group economist with Viyella, no view of the sky. Where’s the catch? None that I could see. Offices in Great Portland Street, London. Could walk there from the station. Interviewed. They liked the background. Accepted. Job done. I HAD BECOME A SALESMAN.