The arrogance of youth

The Imperial War Museum

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!

One comment on “The arrogance of youth

  1. You must have been so disappointed Basia. Fortunately it hasn’t put you off visiting museums and galleries. You’d be a very good museum curator but definitely not at Imperial War Museum!!

    Liked by 1 person

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