I was walking through this park on Monday with my daughter who lives nearby and was reminded of an occasion in 1976 when I first visited the museum.
I had just graduated from university and was wondering what to do with my life. I had decided on a gap year, but I had to survive somehow. So I spent some time looking through the small ads of the Evening Standard and soon found the perfect job for me. An administrator in the Imperial War Museum. Qualifications necessary: a degree and a knowledge of languages. Maybe they wanted more but I was convinced they wanted me. So I wrote off, in my best handwriting – those were the days! – and informed them of how I was eminently suitable for the post.
I anticipated a welcoming reply by return. But one week passed, then two, then three. Not even an acknowledgement. I was not impressed.
But nothing venture, nothing win. I telephoned and very politely asked if they had received my letter. Oh yes they said. Unfortunately they did not think I would be suitable. ???? I thought. It’s perfect for me. So I must have said something to that effect because the person at the other end of the line relented – or thought he would have some fun – and told me that if I thought I was good enough, to present myself for interview a week later.
Unthinkingly, unprepared, in my sweet ignorance and naivety, that is exactly what I did. I arrived, expecting to charm and be charmed. Oh dear. I couldn’t answer any of the questions. I had no idea at all about history, or collections, or medals or armaments. Nothing. Niente. Zilch.
They gave me a cup of tea ( for the shock, I suppose) and told me I could look around the museum.
They didn’t actually say I told you so, but they did make me very aware of my shortcomings as a potential museum worker.
Good museum, though!