5 March 1999
Things are not looking promising on the job front. My CV, telling the story of a young woman with so much to offer (those excellent exam results, the tough but rewarding first job, the early promotion), shows the career taking a nose-dive from the first time Subjudice laid into me from the inside with her little fist. Since her arrival (fists still flailing) I fear I have little else to add to it.
My subsequent two children look, in this light, like an unfortunate habit I have fallen into, while employers are interested in little more than how I filled in the gaps between them. The answer, of course, is by wiping down the equivalent of 3,000 miles in kitchen counter tops, or else we'd be stuck fast in a house with mortar made of milk, carrot puree and other sticky substances too revolting to bring up at an interview- although my children would have no hesitation, were they here.
My only interview to date was an illuminating journey into the underbelly of publishing, the industry in which I imagined myself shooting to the top, in the years before I met the Lawyer. (He wrote an article on risk management for a series we published and I was so charmed by his adherence to the deadline - only two months late, and the manuscript accompanied by a bunch of roses - that I couldn't help buying him lunch the next time he was in town. The rest is history, but it was only after we were married that I discovered his secretary sent the roses.)
Anyway, 10 years later and 300 miles away from any decent publishers, I find myself sitting across the desk from a ratty-looking trade magazine publisher who has already pushed my pitiful CV aside and is asking me "what I could bring to the party". Momentarily thrown, I wonder if he means extra cocktail sausages or perhaps the Tigger paper plates left over from Liability's second birthday, before realising I've been a mother too long, and that this is simply office-speak for working life. He's obviously never had to entertain 15 toddlers in an enclosed space or he'd think twice before calling it a party, and he'd definitely give me the job straight away. I can see, however, that he's not convinced that running several people's lives, a household, two cars and an ageing dog are suitable qualifications for merely getting a magazine out once a month.
I muse about fabricating a successful take-over bid for the school run, resulting in the banning of the awful Boggins children and their leaking Ribena boxes, and ensuring that my children never ride in anything less than a Volvo. I could pretend I had rationalised the baby-sitting circle, creating flat management structure with clear lines of communication and a "can-do" attitude which largely meant free Friday nights for me, for ever.
But it won't do. I go for the soft option, talking about my organisational skills, my own "can-do" attitude, my eagerness to get back to doing some real work. "You'll be thrown in at the deep end," Ratface says, eyeballing me doubtfully. "We'd expect long hours from you, and we don't pay for admin support." He says this in a way that suggests that support is for wimps. "Even the managing director types his own letters."
I refrain from saying that this seems to me a waste of his managing director's time and take my leave. Even eight years of wiping up after children, it seems, hasn't hardened me enough for some jobs. Besides, I if I want long hours and no support, I can get that at home with no effort at all.