Would you have come into much contact with Sidney Bernstein?
I did in the early days, yes, because he came up to Manchester regularly to see how the building was progressing and everything else.
He used to bring a secretary with him from London, but it was never enough, so they had to have somebody else, and I used to get seconded — maybe once a fortnight or something like that — to go and work in his office, which was absolutely terrifying for the first few times! Because he was an astonishing man. The speed at which he did everything. The things he knew. He always looked so fabulous; he was beautifully, impeccably dressed.
But terrifying for a young typist, because you couldn’t afford to make mistakes in those days. Carbon copies and Tipp-ex and all of that — if you made a terrible mistake you had to start again! But he was amazing. He missed nothing. He used to walk round the building, with somebody from the general manager’s staff, and point out the scratches on the paintwork and the fingerprints on the glass, and never missed a trick. Which is why the building was always pretty ship-shape really.
And, again, held in great esteem by the staff?
Yes, I think so. And he would go down into the canteen at lunch in his shirtsleeves, and sit with somebody and quiz them on what they were doing and what should be done.
We had a suggestion scheme at one stage, where you could actually put in ideas, and there was a small prize or a little amount of money if you made a really good suggestion. That seems to me like a Sidney idea, but I could be wrong. I can’t remember the timescale.
As the admin block grew and was then occupied, he came less frequently. But he still kept on eye on absolutely everything, and of course his knowledge of music and art and everything else was as wide as Denis’.