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Interviewer: So, Fiona, can you tell me about how you started in fashion retailing?
Fiona: Yes, of course. After I finished university, I took a job with a big high street chain – I
was an assistant manager. Every week you would see the sales figures for your product and then act on that by placing repeat orders or putting a new style in. It was a good grounding . However, most of the staff had been there years and I think I did make mistakes in my dealings with them – I blush now to think of my time there. I then moved on, after five years, to my present job.
Interviewer: And now you’re thinking of moving up the ladder. How do you see yourself in ten
Fiona: I would eventually like to be in senior management.
Interviewer: Well, before you rush off to see your line manager, I think you need to work out skills you can offer emphasising your selling points, showing them what you can do . Also have you been going the extra mile to get things done or doing more than what is asked of you, recently?
Friend: So, what happened last weekend?
Woman: Well, we were taking our boat along the river, when we passed a pair of swans, with a nest nearby. One swan just carried on feeding, but the other one – the male I think – decided to come and investigate.
Friend: Oh, fantastic. I’ve never seen a swan’s nest close up. I expect he was hungry.
Woman: Well, actually it was immediately obvious from his body language that he had other things on his mind. He was flapping his wings really hard, and approaching at incredible speed. And I guess we’d gone too close to the nest. I’d never have done that if I’d known what would happen .
Friend: Gosh, amazing. I’ve never heard of swans behaving like that before. So what did you do? Row like mad?
Woman: Well, we got out onto the bank, but he followed us up, and then stood between us and the boat for about an hour! We just couldn’t frighten him away.
Friend: No, I suppose not. Still, I’m sure he wouldn’t have hurt you.
Woman: Are you kidding ? You should have seen the way he moved – swans can be really aggressive at nesting times.
Interviewer: Bruce, at school, you discovered you had a natural talent for art.
Bruce: Yes, I inherited my dad’s gift for drawing. I wanted to do representational art; paint portraits. But every college I went to – and there were three who accepted me – all the college tutors said, ‘Forget representational art, get a single lens reflex 33-millimetre camera, hit the shutter, crash, there’s your picture. Not even Rembrandt could get that accuracy, so it’s not worth it .’
Interviewer: And you believed them?
Bruce: I did. That was my biggest mistake. I haven’t picked up a paintbrush since.
Interviewer: How did your father react, when you told him you weren’t going to art college?
Bruce: His face was white with rage . He said, ‘Right, that’s it. You could have made something of going to college. You won’t get another chance. Now I’ve got a perfectly good job for you on the factory floor. You start this week – take it or leave it.’ I said, ‘No, I’m going to start a business next.’ He said, ‘Well, at your own expense, then.’
Interviewer: He refused to support you any more?
Bruce: That’s it, and so…
Richard Livingstone: I’d set off, with my friend Matthew Price, to sail down a little-known river in the rainforest, in a homemade boat. Our original idea was to go all the way by boat, carrying it past any rough bits, but the river was much rockier and faster-flowing than we’d thought, which meant we were only covering a few kilometres each day. Then, suddenly, we realised that, as the river was about to go over a waterfall, we could go no further by boat .
As it was only a homemade thing, we decided to abandon it, and walk to the nearest road . As far as we knew, there were no villages or trading posts along the way and, on our map, it looked like a 100-kilometre walk.
And that walk, through thick rainforest with 25 kilos on our backs, was difficult. We walked for six days, it was hot and we were permanently wet through , before we came to any sign of civilisation. There were times when we really wondered if we’d ever get out of that jungle alive.
Then, on the seventh day, we suddenly came across a path – not an animal trail, but a man-made one, so we knew there must be people living there . It was going roughly in the right direction, so we followed it and, at dusk, we came to a deserted camp in a hollow. Deserted, but not uninhabited. There was digging equipment wrapped in plastic, alongside two water-filled holes. Obviously someone had been digging in search of gold at some time or another.
Nearby, on a rough wooden table, were some cooking utensils and a few other supplies, and whoever was camping there must’ve been intending to return soon because there was a large pot full of thick soup. We couldn’t identify either the strange-looking pieces of meat or the unfamiliar vegetables it seemed to be made from , but we were in a desperate state. Over the previous seven days, we’d only had flour and rice to eat and, although we had plenty left, we were low on energy . This was our greatest problem.
So, we cooked up some of our rice and decided to have two spoonfuls from the pot with it. It was good, so we had another spoonful. And then another. Soon, nothing was left of our host’s meal. Afterwards, we began to get worried . People living this sort of life could be very tough, and this one could return any minute. We decided to make an early start.
To show we were grateful, we placed 30 dollars in the cleaned-out cooking pot . It was quite a lot for the quantity of food – it was probably only worth 10 dollars or so – but that wasn’t the point. This man wouldn’t be able to pop to the supermarket to replace the food we’d eaten. But I have no regrets because that dinner gave us the strength to make it the rest of the way through the jungle safely.
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