Interviewed by Stephen Kelly, 21 January 2014.
Let’s start June when did you join Granada and how come did you join Granada?
I joined in 1973 in London as a Programme Secretary on a programme called, what was it called, I told you yesterday, Brian Lapping’s programme, State of the Nation, I was a programme secretary on that in the main building in Golden Square.
And how long did you do that for? What was that like?
It was unbelievably tedious in the sense that the programme outline was consistently changing so I was endlessly retyping to notes but it was interesting in that I didn’t have very much idea about the workings of Parliament so I learnt quite a lot on that level and I also met some interesting people and went to the party conference. Yes generally got immersed in it but I got to a point when I was generally quite bored.
Do you remember what the programme was about?
Not very well I have to say. I know it was heavily based on what was going on in the House of Commons at the time, now 73. Was Wilson still Prime Minister then?
No Heath would be Prime Minister; Wilson became Prime Minister in February 74
Oh OK, right I remember that now because I remember we used to have a lot of contact with his researcher, Jane Cousins, she used to come into the office at lot and Norma Piercy was a researcher on it and David Kemp I think was a researcher on it as well. I t was pretty dry I have to say and at that point I didn’t really have much grasp of actually making television programmes because we didn’t get that far or I didn’t get that far within the job. I left actually I left Granada and then I came back six months later.
So why did you leave?
So you came back six months later?
This time it was to be the Programme Secretary on World in Action in the basement of the adjacent building across from Golden Square. It was downstairs, it was a huge basement room I took that job
So who would be in the office, which world in action people would be in the office, do you remember?
Oh Gus was in charge, Gus Macdonald, I was trying to think of all the different people who were there, Claudia Milne, Mike Gillard, Brian Blake, Barry Cox, Stephen Clark, Mike what was his name, Mike it’s gone, Eva Kolouchova. I was there the day she arrive to see Gus and I think she’d only just managed to leave Czechoslovakia and she almost came in straight off the train and went to see him. And er John Shirley,
John Birt, was he there?
No he wasn’t working on the programme then, no.
No I think they’d very recently moved on. Give me a few more names and I’ll tell you
No that was well before him.
Yes, he was.
So what did role, Production Secretary involve?
It was really an exciting role, I loved it. It was basically keeping things ticking over for Gus, paperwork but organizing the crews going out all over the place, keeping tabs on where they were – it was very, very exciting particularly as there was a lot of underground filming going on then and a lot of surreptitious filming. I think I can remember them going into Chile, I’m pretty sure I can.
That would have been just after the revolution?
The coup d’état rather?
Yeah. And I think they were going into South Africa. So it was keeping tabs on all of that, getting updates from all of the crews, how it was going. A lot of liaising with Tom Gill in Manchester, well obviously typing up a lot of stories, the researchers giving me things to deal with. It was very, very exciting; it was never a dull moment in there.
One of my best memories is coming in in the morning to find various researchers asleep under their desks because they’d just never made it home. But it was a huge open office with kind of individual cabinets, all around the room, little offices where people were doing their work. So I was right out in the middle next door to Gus and that was it, you’d come in in the morning and you’d see someone was under their desk, having got back the night before. And there was a lot of activity with AKA, the camera crew they used.
AKA they were called. Alan somebody Associates they supplied the crew, people like Mike Dodds and who’s the other one, John Shepherd worked on it then, and John Slater, it was that bunch.
John Blake was he..?
John Blake, yes. I think he came a bit later on but certainly Shepherd was there. Leslie Woodhead, John Shepherd, John Slater..
Allan Segal, yes, yes. (laughs) He was the light part of it, he always made me laugh, he was a very funny man.
And upstairs, one floor up from up was Disappearing World which was equally exciting, equally fascinating so that was Brian, the man who went, Brian Moser, Jeremy Wallington, Carlos Pacini was one of the directors there at the time, Pattie Coldwell who was their Production Secretary, that’s how Pattie and I became friends. Yeah.
So how long do you stay in the particular role?
That role, about let me see now 73, probably about 18 months and then Jeremy Wallington said ‘Look they’re looking to train PAs up in Manchester’. I think I’d got to a point where I was thinking, right what next? I also wanted to leave London because I’d recently got divorced and my ex-husband worked in television and I just kept thinking we’re going to keep on bumping into each other so I thought it was a good idea to leave London. And Jeremy said why don’t you go up and apply for a PA board which I did. And the first time I didn’t get it. I remember having a terrifying interview with Joyce Wooller who said to me at the end ‘There are twelve people applying for this job and eleven people really want it.’ So I went back to London with my tail between my legs but then it came up again and I applied and I got it.
So when you went up to Manchester did you get any sort of formal training?
I did, yes. In fact, this turned out to be quite a problem because what I hadn’t really realized was how good you needed to be at Maths to do this job and I hadn’t even got GCSE Maths, O Level Maths at that point, and so I remember they had to apply to ACTT to extend my training which was fairly unheard of but I couldn’t work very well with minutes and seconds. I could work with pounds, shillings and pence, and tens and multiples of tens.
Explain a little about why…
Because if you were doing timings on a programme you had to, you were constantly having to make sure a programme ran to time so you were constantly having to do mental arithmetic to say have we got enough time to do this item or are we going to have to cut it in thirty seconds and my mental arithmetic was really, really poor so it took me a long time but I did get it in the end and now it amazes me that I did. But I just hadn’t grasped that there was so much of that involved. I suppose I hadn’t really researched the job that well before I applied. But anyway I got it, I was trained. I was trained by two of the very best PAs at the time.
Who would they be?
Sue Wilde, and Roly’s mum, Ursula Coburn. They were great, they really helped me.
And how long did that training last?
Well I think it was probably about nine months, I’m not sure. I know I went over the usual allotted time. It was probably about nine months.
So you finish your training and what do you go onto then?
All sorts of funny little programmes, like This is Your Right and Picturebox, was that one of their’s? Childrens, little programmes, children’s programmes and then I graduated to University Challenge and did that for quite a long time which was good fun. And then a lot of local programmes and news from Studio 2. I did a lot of Granada Reports, yes so that the earliest. And things like the Something and Shunters Club – what was it called? The Wheeltappers and Shunters Club?
It was comedy programme?
I think it was a sort of, it was a bit like that other one they did where you had an audience in and it was like a nightclub, I can’t remember that one but it had lots of comedians on it. In fact one of my very first memories at Granada was going, I think it was my first day, at the end of my first day, and someone said to me ‘why don’t you come up to the Film Exchange?’ So I went and there was that very large comedian who died not long ago.
Yes who was unspeakably rude to me, and I just thought, he was so sexist, and I just thought ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here, I’ve just come up from West Hampstead. He’s so rude.’ But I know he was part of this other programme which was, oh it was like a working men’s club and they had acts on and comedians..
It wasn’t The Comedians, was it?
No, no, it was before that. It might come back to me. Anyway I did those sorts of things, University Challenge.
Just explain what the Film Exchange was.
The Film Exchange was a bar on the right hand side of Quay Street walking up towards the library which was almost exclusively frequented by Granada people. It was just, that was it, see you at the Film Exchange and it was long before the Grapes which was on the other side of the road, and it was long before the Stables. There wasn’t a bar at Granada at that time, I don’t think, so that’s where everyone went to have production meetings or after you’d done a show, mostly after you’d done a show. I did quite a few of those lightweight music programmes like Shangalang, was it, something like that. I know it was the time of the Bay City Rollers and I was absolutely amazed that you’d see queues miles long outside of the studios of these girls in tartan waiting to see these boys. I’d just never seen anything like it before. So that music shows and University Challenge, as I’d said, those kind of things but a lot of local programmes, a lot of local programme filming. And they graduated from that to Coronation Street and weightier things.
Tell me about your time on Coronation Street.
I loved it, I absolutely loved it but I found it quite difficult because I got on quite well with local filming, documentary filming but drama was something else, particularly filming I found difficult because I never quite grasped ‘crossing the line’, I never quite understood what that meant. Well I understood it in theory but in practice it didn’t seem to work somehow. But that was the time of people like Ken Grieve, Alan Grint, I trying to think of some of the other directors who were on that, I can’t remember their names now. But yes, once I got into it I did really enjoy it and I liked going to the script readings and dealing with the artists but it was a very different kind of experience. It was much more long winded and doing different takes and all of that type of thing. And of course, typing up the scripts was a nightmare. That’s one of my biggest memories of Coronation Street that long after everyone’s gone you’re still there at midnight typing up the scripts thinking ‘I’ve had enough of this’ and of course there’d be endless script changes. But it was interesting.
What characters were there on Coronation Street then? Was Ena Sharples still there? Pat Phoenix?
Yes, yes. Who was the lovely guy, Eddie someone?
Eddie Yates, yes – yes in fact, he became quite a good mate. He was sort of my contact in the cast. He was very nice to me. And of course Ken Barlow, and Deirdre. Deirdre I remember quite well because we became good friends at the time. And ..
I don’t think Jack, I’m not sure about Jack. I can’t quite remember that but Annie certainly. And of course, Bet Lynch, yes. So it was a very different experience because all I’d ever know up to that point was documentary work really, and news so I was introduced to this world of ‘darlings’ and it took a while to get used to it but I did enjoy it. But it was three week turnaround and I think, of course it’s much worse now, but I think, I think we did two programmes every three weeks, something like that. So there would be a three-week prep period and then we’d shoot two episodes, as far as I remember.
And at this stage it was just two episodes a week?
Yes I think it was, yeah.
Monday and Wednesday?
Yes, something like that and there wasn’t much outside filming, just little snippets to put into the programme. I just remember those being relentlessly cold and wet whenever we had to do any outside shooting and working with my hands in plastic bags. They never quite worked out how PAs were supposed to write in the rain so I would have my pen inside a plastic bag over my clipboard trying to write things down, I remember that. And then of course you’d see them in the canteen and because you were on the programme they’d be quite pally with you. I suppose I did a good six months on that.
And then what did you graduate to?
Well, aah then it got quite interesting because I went onto So It Goes which was a music programme with Tony Wilson and it was very, very demanding. It was very high tech, the first series. I don’t know what happened with the second series but I remember we had something like, I don’t know, two banks of monitors in the studio I think and I was constantly having to feed in clips of telecine, clips of VTR, get the timings exactly right, swap them over, merge them in, it was just a nightmare but once I’d got it, I’d got it and it was very, very exciting to do. And it was very exciting in terms of the kind of artists that we were getting on the programme. You know, because this was when Tony had finally decided that he’d given up on Neil Young and all that and he was well into punk. I actually named the programme which now looking back I’m quite proud of because I was very, very into Kurt Vonnegut at the time and we were talking about what we could call this programme and I just said ‘So It Goes’ and they went ‘Yes, yes, that’s brilliant’. So that’s how it came to be called ‘So It Goes’. And we had some extraordinary filming events on that programme like I remember going, one memory I’ve got is going down to a very small club in London to film Van Morrison and I’m sitting at the front taking my notes and I knew that he had a reputation for never smiling at anyone and I just thought ‘I’m going to make you smile, you bugger, if it takes me all day’. So I just sat there grinning at him all the time and eventually he cracked, he just laughed. I felt like ‘I’ve done it, I’ve actually made Van Morrison smile’ so that was a highlight.
I remember going to film oh Siouxsie and the Banshees at Belle Vue and we were on the stage and I got absolutely covered in spit which was just revolting but that was the sort of thing that was going on then. I remember someone actually spat on the camera lens and they kept it in the programme because it was so disgusting. We filmed Ballet Rambert in London, we filmed Iggy Pop, John Otway, that’s a name I remember, and of course the Sex Pistols. And who else in London? The Clash. So yeah it was vibrant time.
Do you remember anything in particular about the Sex Pistols and the Clash?
I remember thinking, my problem was I didn’t really like the music. I was still stuck in Neil Young and West Coast, the Eagles and that sort of stuff. But I do remember thinking ‘The Clash are actually quite intelligent’ just listening to them talking in between takes, thinking ‘Mm they don’t seem as rough as some of the ones we’ve done’. I don’t remember much about the Sex Pistols to be honest except I didn’t really like them very much. You know everyone those days was so abrasive, you couldn’t get a nice word out of them really, they were just unpleasant, deliberately. It makes me laugh now seeing them, seeing Johnny Rotten on butter commercials. I’m just trying to think of who else we did. Oh, I know, John Cooper Clarke, he was just in his early days then and oh, wonderful bunch called Jonathan Richman from the States, he was very, very funny – I’ve still got his records. It was a complete new experience for me in terms of television. I’d not done anything like that at all and Peter Walker was directing that series. But it was good because it was one of the kind of top shows that they were doing at the time and there was some sense of prestige of belonging to it, it was like ‘I’m the So It Goes PA, aren’t I lucky?
And who was producing?
Tony, oh producing erm sorry, now was it Steve Hawes or was he researcher? Steve Hawes was certainly on it and also erm crikey let me think. You know I can’t think who was producing it.
Not Johnny Hamp?
No, no it wasn’t him. Geoff Moore produced the second series, I cannot remember who produced the first series but I am sure that can be discovered.
Yes Tony presented.
How big an influence was Tony on the show?
Huge, absolutely huge, yes. Tony got pretty much what he wanted in those days. I think probably most of the ideas came from him. He’d find the people he wanted and put them forward to the researchers and then they’d agree or not but generally they did agree. It was all quite anarchic actually. We had a, we had an office for a while I think on the second but then for some bizarre reason we ended up in a Portakabin in the car park and it was like, it was our only little realm. We just got on with what we wanted to do and nobody interfered with us, I remember that.
Was it a network programme or regional?
No, it was network, it was network and it was very successful. People still refer to it. They tend to say when talk about Tony, Tony Wilson before Hacienda, and Factory, of So It Goes because I think there hadn’t been a music programme like that on television at all. It was breaking new ground, it was breaking presentation format and the kind of people that were being given air time that most other programmes were shunning really because they didn’t have big audiences. It was avant-garde I guess at the time.
So after So It Goes?
After So It Goes I went to India for a long holiday and came back and decided I wanted to be a photographer so went to night school for about a year and this thing just grew and grew and grew and it got to the point where I must have been working on something deadly dull and I just remember a time when I thought I could be out taking photographs rather than typing up these notes so it got a hold on me and somehow I don’t quite know. Oh I know what happened I went for an interview for the photography degree at what was then Manchester Polytechnic and I had a dreadful interview and I wasn’t accepted and I remember thinking I’m glad I wasn’t accepted because I couldn’t bear to work under you anyway. But then something happened and it must have been through a Granada connection because somebody suggested that I should go do Wally Butler’s directing course at the Capitol Theatre in Didsbury which was where the Film School was at that point. So I went along to see Wally Butler who was running it. There were only four of us and it was supposed to be a postgraduate course. For some reason they took me on even though I hadn’t got a first degree so I was doing this postgraduate course before having done a BA. And I directed little plays and films and made animations and things like that but still photography was very much my main concern.
By this point you’d left Granada?
I’d left the staff, yes but I was still freelancing frequently all the way through.
This was what year?
This was ’78, I left in the summer of 78 and that year at Wally Butler’s course was 78, 79. And I just remember him getting so infuriated with me saying ‘this course is a director’s course and you don’t seem to want to be a director’ and I said ‘ I told you that at the beginning’. So for the final term they sent me up to the photography department at the Poly and then applied again and then I got on the degree so that was 79 to 82 but I carried on freelancing all the way through, mostly for Granada and mostly on Coronation Street because it was the sort of thing that you could slot into for a few weeks.
Can we talk about Granada as a company. I mean what kind of company do you have it, how do you see it as a company…
Then I saw it as a family firm. I thought they looked after their staff incredibly well, the Bernsteins were still there. It did feel like one great big family and my other memory is which I quite often say to people was that in those days it was just a sea of denim. You know you’d go into the canteen and everyone was in denim or kaftans, it was an extraordinary time. And then by the time, by the time I got back and had finished my degree it had really begun to change, it began to feel like an insurance company or something, everyone was walking around in sharp suits.
This would be into the later 80’s?
Yeah, yeah. It really felt like it had changed. I can’t remember that Cyril died and Cecil carried on, I can’t quite remember what happened there but it felt, the atmosphere felt completely different. In the early days I felt like, well I don’t know it was things like, if you had problems, they would help you. If you had personal problems, they would help you, they would look after you, there was a company doctor, all those things that made you feel valued, yes valued, that’s a good word. And that all seemed to disappear. It was probably about the time when, it was about the time when individual companies were starting up and they weren’t taking on any more freelances. I remember I couldn’t get back on staff but they were also not taking on any more freelances. They were using out of house facilities and I think in a way that was probably, that was probably what destroyed the family feeling of the company really because before everything had been done in-house apart from props. I know they used to use huge prop warehouses around Manchester but before you used to feel that everything about a programme was done in house, the graphics, the filming, the props, the set – it was all done by the company and that was a good feeling. You’d walk down the canteen through the props department and see the guys who were making the props for your programme, have a chat with them. I think the thing was then, you could talk to anyone, it didn’t really matter whether you were a PA or a designer or a graphic designer or a make-up artist or whatever. Everyone spoke to each other and you all felt equal in a way. That ‘s my memory of it anyway. Had it not been my obsession to be a photographer I probably would have stayed happily for a few years but I think by the time the accountants came in and started shaking the place up I’m not sure I would have been happy for much longer really. It all seemed to be very, very cut-throat and very stripped bare. There didn’t seem to be room in some way for people to be creative, perhaps in the way they had been before because they’d been given time. It was all too time-tight by then whereas my best memories are of sitting around, banging ideas around ‘we could do this, what about that?’ and it was kind of an organic process whereas later on it felt very machine, very manufactured, yeah that’s it, I can’t think of the right word really, manufactured rather than created.
Formulaic, yes that’s it, that’s it even to extent that I noticed it on World In Action towards the end although that was one of the best programmes but somehow it seemed to develop a kind of formula. And then it got to the point where things were being repeated all the time, we’d come back from a commercial break and you’d have the whole synopsis of the programme again you’d think ‘we’re not idiots, we do understand’ but somehow that seemed to be happening across the board really. So yeah I just feel as though I was there at an incredibly exciting time.
You mentioned Sydney Bernstein and Denis Forman – did you have much contact with them?
No they were way up on the 7th Floor. But they would come into the canteen, you know, and they’d smile at you, and they’d say hello if they passed you in the corridor. I didn’t feel intimidated by them.
David Plowright, yep. I much more frightened of Joyce Wooller, she was really intimidating. In fact I can remember my very first day, the other person who joined with me was Steve Morrison. We were both sat outside Joyce Wooller’s office waiting to be inducted and we were both shaking really ‘ Who is this formidable woman?’ And also Ivy Stephens, the head of PAs, who was difficiult to say the least but then I don’t think I really fitted her idea of the ideal PA because I was a bit of a hippy. She had her favourites, for sure. Yeah.
Somebody said to me Granada, and I am talking to you now as someone who is quite political, that Granada was a company that was not ashamed of its left-wing reputation.
Exactly, exactly and that’s what was so enjoyable about it. And for me as a youngster working on World In Action it was just thrilling. I hadn’t met people who were like this before, I hadn’t met people who were so politically active and working on such fascinating stories. And I did feel, I got sucked into it and it was probably where my politics began to gel really. I think I’d been a bit wishy-washy before that. No and it was something to be proud of, I felt, that they would go out on a limb and make these programmes.
People have also mentioned to me about the importance of the Canteen and the Old School, the Stables.
Yes, yes. Well the Stables came later in my time really. But the Canteen was a kind of a melting pot of ideas and conversations, and in those days you could smoke in the canteen. I remember they had these horrible tinny little ashtrays, they were sort of, what’s the word, shiny orange, turquoise or green and I think they had the same ones in the Granada motor cafes. To think now, we’d sit a table of six, maybe four people on that table smoking and the other two weren’t and everyone was eating their lunch and nobody said a word, it seems extraordinary now. And we smoked in the studio, we smoked in the gallery. I can remember changing from packet cigarettes to roll-ups because when I used to work on say Granada Reports I’d get through ten cigarettes in the gallery before the show was over so I thought if I start rolling myself maybe I wont smoke so much so when I had a thirty second break I’d sort of roll a cigarette. But I just find that extraordinary now. The air in the canteen and the studios must have been absolutely vile but nobody complained. But I did love the canteen because you could see a group of people and think ‘Yes I really wanted to talk to Ken about so and so. I know he went to see such and such a film last night I must find out about it. It was all that interchange with people and it wasn’t too cliquey, you didn’t feel you always had to sit with the same people. It was vile actually, the décor was horrible, I seem to remember it was orange flowers but the canteen ladies were lovely. There was one called, I think she was called Irma but all I can remember she used to go’ Roast or mash, roast or mash?’ and then they’d pour tea from an enormous aluminum teapot. And then while I was away doing my degree, by the time I’d come back it was all smartened up, self-service I think, pick your own salads and I think they’d re-done the actual seating by then. But I do remember, the thing about those early days, was that I remember there were beautiful paintings all round the building which they were what, Bernstein collection I suppose, but they felt like they were being shared with you. They were in the foyer, they were down the corridors by the studios, they were in the canteen and it was just, I don’t know, I’d never worked in a place like that and I found it really exciting.
What about, erm, I was going to say something about the canteen there….
Canteen props, pictures, smoking?
No, I’ll come back to pictures when we’ve finished. Let’s move onto – what about the unions, trade unions and various problems?
Yes I do remember quite a bit about that. I was a member I can’t remember whether we had to be members or not? Did we – right? I remember a lot of union meetings in a big room up on the 2nd floor I think. I can’t remember which year the big strike was.
I think it was 80 – it was either very late 79 or 80, somewhere around there.
And how long did that one go on for?
Nine weeks I think.
Was it? Well I wasn’t on the staff by then but I do remember smaller strikes and there was all kinds of stuff when you were filming about, you know, double bubble, I think that was if you worked more than ten hours you got double pay.
The ten-hour break, that was it, and you had to have so many meals in a day, you had to have so many food breaks in a day. And I do remember things which seem ridiculous now but I suppose it was the time where if I went and moved a chair on the studio floor the props man would come up and shout at me. It took a bit of getting used because I think the thing was as a PA you were trained to be sort of generally helpful and I was quite often not helpful because I’d trodden on someone’s toes. But I was very much in favour of the union at the time but I suppose that was all part of the left-wing politics of the company and the feeling of ‘we’re the workers’. But I’m sure looking back they were probably quite out of place quite often. But it seemed exciting, you know, I’d not been involved in strikes before, I’d not been in a union before so anything that was like’ Come to a meeting, we’re going to discuss this’ I was ‘Yeah alright then’.
What about Granada’s position within Manchester? How important was it to the region?
Oh I think hugely important, I really do. Granada Reports, very important programme. I think people identified with it, I think people identified with people like Bob Greaves and Tony, Trevor Hyett and who was that lovely man, erm, he had been a photographer…
Bob Smithies, yes. I mean I think people felt that they knew these characters even if they probably didn’t. And of course, Coronation Street was a massive influence – the fact that it was so successful and Manchester felt it had been recognized in some way was really important. I mean I can remember as a child living in the South, well my father was a Scot but my mother was a Londoner. She wouldn’t let us watch Coronation Street as kids, she thought it was too common. And I just found that hilarious and when I started working on it of course she was incredibly proud of me. Guess what my daughter’s working on, Coronation Street. But I think that whole thing of the local presenters doing local stories plus Corrie plus maybe the location as well. Everyone knew where Granada was, well I say everyone pretty much everyone did. I don’t know if it would have been the same at Anglia or somewhere like that, maybe, but it was integral to city life to me at the time.
I know when visited other of those regional stations back in the 80s they were very small, they didn’t seem to have a presence whereas Granada was big on the Manchester skyline. Right at the top of the building the Granada sign could be seen from miles away.
Yes you could. The only other one I had any connection with was Thames at Teddington. Well I suppose that seemed quite, it didn’t have the same impact at Granada, maybe that’s London and its main offices were in the Euston Road and its studios were in Teddington but it all seemed sort of Home Counties to me. But Granada, I think because of its political edge as well it felt to me as though it represented quite a large proportion of the population here and I was proud to work there. It was also something to do with the fact that it was just on the edge of the Irwell, Salford was only spitting distance away whereas the BBC was on Oxford Road and that was a whole other ballgame. But it sort of felt right that Granada was where it was, I thought at the time.
Is there anything else that you wanted to add that we’ve not really touched upon?
Well the fact that I wasn’t actually on the staff for that long, it almost feels as thought my involvement or my interest for your project is more to do with the fact that, it’s more to do with the people that I was around at the time who went onto great things. Leslie Woodhead, one of my very favourite people. I worked on a film with him which was nothing to do with the normal stuff he did. He made a film about Randy Newman and I was his PA on that and it was just a lovely, lovely experience. I was proud of that credit. So yes in a way I feel as though even though it wasn’t a very long time that I was, I was really affected by the people who were around me, the people who… I remember Paul Greengrass who was a very young researcher I suppose and then I blinked and he’s an Oscar-winning director. So it’s a feeling of how lucky I was to be with those people at that time. It think that’s it and even though it wasn’t long and so much more life’s happened since then I still look back on it with great warmth and think how privileged I was, how lucky I was and the only drawback, the only thing I think I would say now that maybe we stitched ourselves up in a way was that as a PA you were kind of stuck and you were kind of in a sexist role. There weren’t any men PAs and you invariably became a PA because you graduated from being a secretary so the main thing was you had to be able to type. I do remember a wonderful incident in the World In Action office in London when Claudia Milne came up to me and she said ‘ Could you type this up for me’ and I said ‘I’m really busy, I’m just doing something for Gus’ and she said ‘I never learned to type’ and I thought ‘Huh, that was my mistake.’ Yes, that’s it – I think I was lucky to be there when I was, I think I was lucky to meet the people I met and within ten years I was talking to people who were still working there and I thought ‘I’m so glad I don’t work there now because everything seemed to have changed’ I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong but I got the feeling that buzz somehow had gone but that may have been the same in any other industry at the time. Maybe that’s just what the 70s was like and then by the time Thatcher came in, everything changed.