My first job…Mike Pullen, fairground boy

Tulkinghorn would like to introduce a new regular feature, which gives you an insight into what shaped today’s lawyers before they were shoved into the legal sausage machine.

Mike Pullen, Brussels-based partner at DLA

First job:
“I was a general dogsbody on a travelling fair. I was born and brought up on a travelling fair and started working for it from about 12 years old, doing all sorts of things: putting stuff up, taking it down again, selling candyfloss and working on the rides. My claim to fame is that I can make candyfloss with three machines going at once.”

Did you enjoy it?
“I didn’t know anything else. We moved on about once a week or once a fortnight around the north of England.”

How much were you paid?
“At first nothing; then, when I was 16, about £30 a week.”

What did you learn from it?
“Business sense, how to deal with all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds, how to sell. I’d sell candyfloss by making it bigger and better than anyone else – fairly much like I sell everything now.

“The job led to me becoming interested in law. We had certain major fairs that we needed to make money and one of them was the August Bank Holiday. We needed to be on this showground but the local authority told us it was too wet.
I was just 19 and had to go through the whole rigmarole of getting it sorted. That’s what triggered it.”

How long did you last?
“From when I was born to about 26, when I left to go to university. During the winter, when the fair shut down for about two and a half months, I’d lie about my age and work as a truck driver on the Yorkshire coal mines. Then the miners’ strike came and there was no more work so I went to university.”

Any anecdotes:
“When I was about 14 I had to persuade a trading standards officer that the soft toys we were selling weren’t Snoopys but black-and-white dogs. I didn’t know anything about copyright then, but you just got a feel for these things.
The trading standards man stood out a mile and came over and asked for a ‘Snoopy’. I told him they weren’t Snoopys, they were black-and-white dogs. The argument went on for some time, but eventually I persuaded him that these toys of dubious origin were not Snoopys.