Dinner guests…

I made a momentous decision in 1976 – apart from asking the Textiliste for a date, that is. I decided that my premier career option would be to qualify as a solicitor once I had finished my law degree. I was late to the party compared to many and by this time I had missed some opportunities to obtain my ‘articles’.

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That probably sounds rather Dickensian. Like being Indentured. These days you acquire a Training Contract – same toil, different branding. Two years working as a poorly paid skivvy at a Law Firm after which the legal world is your mobster..

The reason I came to that decision was because the Milk Round was underway. For those not in the know, the Milk Round is where prospective employers visit August learning establishments trawling through the talent pool and selecting the plums for their graduate intake. For those of us keen to secure the best articles it was essential to take part. For a lot of Firms this was the only way they recruited – a separate application would most likely be binned or held over for a year until the next Milk Round.

I had had no experience of interviews. And university didn’t try and help. We created a CV. We sent it in and we waited to see if we were offered a first interview. For a lucky few – much admired and envied – a second interview in London or wherever was on the cards. Bigger Firms paid expenses. What wasn’t to like.

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Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde?

Some days two or three Firms would attend and if you were selected you might be hurrying from one interview to the next. Word soon spread about the types of questions being asked – one was on a really abstruse area of law which we hadn’t yet studied which panicked everyone as the interviewer insisted we ‘had a go anyway’. Another wanted to know the closing price for the FTSE Ordinary Share index the day before. Most of us hadn’t a clue what that was but someone went and bought the Financial Times and we were prepped – which was great until he twigged and changed the question.

The only one I now remember with any affection, possibly because it was the only interview that led to me being recalled- was from a Firm called Rowe and Maw, now merged and the name long gone exists.

‘If you could have dinner with five guests, who would you have – it can be from any time in history and they can be real or fictional’.

I remember because I had the first interview of the day – no one prepped me. My mind was a blank. He was really nice, quite smiley. He pressed me gently and, in a  rush of madness and mental mucus five names popped out.

I can still see his face; surprise, astonishment probably given he laughed.

‘Let me get this right. You have the sweep of history and you have chosen – correct me if I’m wrong – Winston Churchill, three cricketers and Tintin?’

He never explained why he laughed. Maybe Churchill was a little obvious.

Today I’d be more pretentious – say, Fibonacci, Douglas Adams, Richard Burton (only for his voice – he could read the menu all night), Clare Balding and Alan Bennett.

What about you? How would you get on with this one?

PS I didn’t get the job. In fact, it took me over 100 letters applying for jobs all around the country before I secured my articles some 15 months later. Partly that is because the UK was going through a really bad time economically – The Sick Man of Europe – so jobs were hard to come by, but mostly I think it was because the opening line of each letter, for at least the first 60 or so, I wrote, after the Dear Sir,  said

I am planning to qualify as a Solictor…

There may be no ‘i’ in team but it took me a while to realise there are two in solicitor…

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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35 Responses to Dinner guests…

  1. trifflepudling says:

    What is this in the photo – practicing of the Black Arts and the Occult in the New Forest (a black globe of the constellations in the foreground)?!

    Very funny read, thanks, esp. Solictor! I would like to have dinner with Robert Hooke, Germaine Greer, Robert Kennedy, Jo Brand, and Arthur Conan Doyle. And I would hope that they’d all get on with each other ok!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Now that’s a party and a half . Not sure I know them all and I can’t see them all getting on but then that probably makes it.

      Like

      • They’d probably end up splitting into Robert Hooke & Conan Doyle, and then Germaine, Robert Kennedy and Jo. I would be far too frightened to go into the group with the ladies in it and would go for the less emotive stuff which the two guys would probably discuss! As long as everybody’s speaking to somebody!

        Like

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    Robin Williams, Dali, Merlin, Mr Spock and C.S. Lewis… should make for an interesting evening 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. jennilepard says:

    Hehehe love the last line!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ali Isaac says:

    I can’t believe you really sent out your letters like that! Haha! 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Helen Jones says:

    Too bad they didn’t have spellcheck back then! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I know but then my career might have gone in all sorts of other directions. As my son said to my daughter when she won a prize in her first year at senior school ‘there’s always someone who peaks too soon’. Not me!

      Liked by 2 people

      • roweeee says:

        Geoff, this post is full of laughs. Siblings really know how to cut each other down, don’t they? I do wonder about that whole peaking too early thing, especially with my daughter preparing to sit for the selective schools test. There is this whole tutoring thing going on and it gets pretty intense…hours per week. Some kids in Sydney are doing 40 hours of tutoring/extra homework after school and they are 10-12 years old. I just can’t see kids keeping that up through high school without bowing a gasket or not being able to fit into the real world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        They have to want it I feel. If you try and drive them they will explode.

        Like

  6. So funny! What IS the archaeologist holding in his hand?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Autism Mom says:

    I think your answers were great, both times! Hmm, for me (in no particular order): Sandra Day O’Connor; Jim Lovell; Jean-Luc Picard; Turstin Fitz-Rolf, and Tom Hiddleston

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Boudicca, Guenevere, Diana Dors, the incomparable Sophia, and, for the token bloke, TanGental

    Liked by 2 people

  9. p.s. you should have got the job

    Liked by 1 person

  10. roweeee says:

    Well, Geoffle. I think there is a real beauty in being able to flaunt your mistakes through your writing and give your readers that real feeling of superiority and being able to laugh at your expense. Really, they don’t want someone who is going to dish out life lessons and tell them how to get it right. They want to know there’s someone out there who screws up more than they do and between the two of us, we’re keeping them very busy!
    Having had the benefit of reading a few others’ selections, I’ll pinch Robin Williams and pair him up with Vincent Van Gogh so they can talk about happy days. John Lennon would be another. I would really have to invite Jesus because he has quite a dossier of questions to answer and I just realised that I haven’t included a woman so I’d add Anne Frank. Sorry Cleopatra, before you even sat down, you were asked to leave.
    I think that would make for an interesting dinner party. You’d be invited as well of course. I think that woud turn it into some kind of Fawlty Towers with us at the helm, especially if my kids were doing the cooking! xx Ro

    Liked by 1 person

  11. cindy knoke says:

    I think Tintin was a brilliant choice and btb, my brother and grandfather were (are) superior court judges. Your family sounds eerily like mine.

    Like

  12. merrildsmith says:

    So funny. I laughed at your last line, but I’m glad you finally learned how to spell solicitor. 🙂

    It’s hard to pick only 5–let’s go for Benjamin Franklin, Amelia Earhart, Anne of Green Gables, Yo Yo Ma, and Ingrid Bergman. I think we’d have a fabulous conversation! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great read and question, Geoff. I’d have to answer –

    Enid Blyton, Barbara Bain, Alfred Hitchcock, Freddy Flintoff and the man at number 33!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Charli Mills says:

    Amazing how a question like that can upturn the interview world. Hmm…I’d have blurted names in association to my interests in history. Richard Burton to read the menu all night? Good call! I laughed over your realization of “i”s in solicitor! I worked — briefly — for an insurance company and in my western dialect, I was told by all the agents I couldn’t be their communicator if I couldn’t say it right. Sigh. No great loss, leaving that industry!

    Liked by 1 person

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