I grew up in and near Taunton in Somerset and thanks to some odd wrinkle in my Dad’s past attended a Catholic primary school that was all very matriarchal.
Took and passed my 11-plus and suddenly went from being the oldest, biggest and “cleverest” to the youngest, smallest and just one of the “clever” at a large a very patriarchal State Grammar. Not a happy transition especially as first years had to wear a cap! Got over it after a bit and eventually really enjoyed it. Got quite good at rugby. Got decent O’levels. Got interested in music especially and importantly for me PUNK ROCK. Picked up a guitar. Enjoyed that. Played in bands.
Stayed on and did A levels. Got a bit more distracted from studies along the lines of a well know Ian Dury song. Got more interested in the ARTS. Still got all right A levels (an A, a B and a C and in “proper” subjects like sciences, since you ask!)
Took a year out and worked in the local mental hospital for the first part. Now it’s flats and we have “care” in the community.
Went to the first WOMAD and saw the Burundi drummers with Echo and the Bunnymen and then hitchhiked to Southampton and onto Europe and to a job selling ice creams on a nudist beach for a fella (apparently a hood) in the South of France.
Left Taunton and went to Sussex University for 3 years to study Social Psychology and Cognitive Studies. More distraction! More music! Did my first dance class. Did some music for a play about Jan Palach. Got some sort of degree!
Stayed in Brighton. Spent the next two summers performing in a street theatre troupe, the Pierrotters, dressing up in white satin and pomp oms with slap on and playing rough and ready versions of all sorts of songs.
Did more dancing and more music but really got the bug for dancing (I blame Liz Aggiss for being so interesting). Got poor in between as I had no conventional vocation and little desire to work in a “straight” job. Did the Christmas Post. Got a job as a temporary clerk at a firm of consulting engineers, who upgraded me and got me working with spreadsheets chucking data around. Quite interesting!
Moved to London. Blagged an interview for our band in Melody Maker. Got record company interest that went nowhere. Did some more temp work. More dancing. More distraction. Got a proper job using my (slight) knowledge of PCs for a pension firm investment department. Dance bug bit harder and I persuaded them to let me go part time. Did more dance classes and even attended Middlesex Poly for a year doing ½ a degree until they failed a piece I’d choreographed and wrote the music for a show called KERRANG!
Bit bored of dance that was just about nice shapes and decided I needed a new direction. Persuaded the Company to take me back full time. Bumped into a guy I’d been at school with who was starting an MBA. Persuaded them to let me take a pay cut and finance me doing an MBA in the evenings. Started that and then they wanted to move out to Gloucester so they made me redundant and then hired me back as a consultant.
Got a job with an early UK Hedge Fund firm. Got put together as a team with the man who is STILL my business partner. We did very well and it started to make sense, thanks to the education, and get interesting. Finished my MBA and did loads more education including a CFA.
The directors got greedy and put their fingers in a bit of the pie that wasn’t theirs so I left! THEY hired me back as a consultant. Helped set-up the Classic Car Club Limited with a friend I’d played in bands with.
Rejoined a reborn Pierrotters. Went to Poland as representatives of the British Council.
Eight of us left to set-up a new fund management company as a joint venture with some people that ultimately it turned out we didn’t like and couldn’t work with but before that became BLINDINGLY obvious we got some good results and had some fun stirring up the closed-end fund world. Still playing in the Pierrotters at weekends and on days off. Sold out to the people we didn’t like and couldn’t work with and moved to the Isle Of Man to work for them. Didn’t last of course!
Bailed and was temporarily a regulator on the IOM. Helped set-up Hotel Pelirocco. Then left to set-up Laxey Partners. More fun stirring up the closed-end fund world! Left the Pierrotters in 2002. 2008 spoiled the party and we were ready for a change so we started to become a family office, which gets us more or less to today.
Sounds like I had it all sorted or something but like all these things that is just looking through a rear-view mirror. Through all this there have been MANY times when I have felt out of my depth and it took the help and advice of a variety of people to help me push on. Not with certainty but with enough to do it.
And it’s got harder – no student loans in my day – just the inevitable overdraft. No fees to pay either. No unpaid internships with “a friend of Daddy’s” that make it harder for people to get a start either..
So I’m keen to do my bit and Arts Emergency is the perfect way for me to do it.