I stamped my feet and refused to go when my husband told me we were moving. Again. He phoned Stuttafords anyway and my fiftieth birthday found me newly arrived in Joburg, with one child in Japan and the other on the ski-slopes of Colorado. At least I still had the dogs. What I didn’t have was a job. I couldn’t face another blackboard. My mother warned me that a major in Social Anthropology wouldn’t open any doors.
I began to tire of lounging around in my pyjamas. There’s a limit to the number of cappuccinos you can down in Sandton Square. The demand for fifty year old women who don’t like to get up early, yet need frequent travel breaks, was zero. There was only one option. I announced to my husband over his cornflakes that I was now a freelance journalist. I didn’t know at that stage that the package included such irregular salary cheques.
My husband looked sceptical so I decided I better write something. I saw an advert in the Park View paper about a feature-writing course. One night a week for a month. Not too taxing, I thought. There were only six of us and I didn’t feel too inadequate because none of them had published anything either. I loved it! Our first assignment was to write a profile.
I’d just been accepted as a Life Line counsellor and my first shift was with David Friedland – I asked him if I could write my profile on him because he is blind. He was my introduction to the joy of research. Our subsequent conversations were fascinating – and our teacher encouraged me to submit the piece I wrote to a magazine. They published it! And from that day on, whenever a form asks for my occupation, I write JOURNALIST in block capitals!
And so I decided to try a book – I am easily encouraged….