I will have to have a bit of a delay in writing the old memoirs as I’m back into the world of work guys.
All said, the memoirs weren’t progressing that well to be honest.
It struck me though that some people may be interested in my career path to date as it’s been fairly eclectic and it will be good for me to get it straight in my mind as to what actually happened.
So here is a quick run through of how I got to working in The Pompadour at the age of 59.
I started off at St Andrews University in 1979, ostensibly to read computer science. I say ‘read’ loosely as I had failed my higher English and it is a wonder really that St Andrews accepted me at all. My overall grades were very poor. However I scraped through the clearing system, I think on the back of the fact that comp sci was a bit of a new subject and not overly in demand then. I am not academic. In fact I’m convinced I edged in on the back of my 3 golf handicap.
I slogged through four years and got a Desmond in economics (that’s a low second class, Two:Two) which got me a job in London as a trainee chartered accountant for Thomson McLintock, which I delayed for a year as I was rather more attracted to the offer of a job in Val D’Isere as barman cum plongeur. In effect my career had ended before it had started. I had too much fun. The whole career thing was rather dull thereafter.
However I dragged myself to London for 3 dismal years auditing and trying to get qualified as a chartered accountant. What was I thinking of? Not a lot obviously. This was torture in extremis. I flunked my exams and ended up in Edinburgh having rented out my flat out in Borough. I then met a lass and got a ‘proper’ job in Edinburgh in finance as an admin guy for the fund manager Ivory and Sime. I got chucked, met another lass from Brighton, lost faith in the financial services industry and the 9 to 5, separated from the Brighton lass, met a lass with three kids, started teaching skiing at the dry slope in Edinburgh and then headed out to the Alps again to work in Val D’Isere as a ski guide and resort rep.
I came back from Val D’Isere and then ambled along for a few years doing jobbing gardening and carrying on the ski teaching at Hillend. I taught golf one blissful summer for Club Med in Marbella and another I toured England as a roustabout putting up and dismantling a Theakston’s mobile bar at country fairs. Came back, got sensible. I started gambling on the gee gees and sold wine for Cockburn’s of Leith for a bit, then started a ski trip gig called The Big Fun Company with a chap called Ambroggio McLintock (Ricey) which was seriously big fun. I then attempted a golf tour company, Highlander Golf, with an old pal at St Andrews who’d seen the light after a serious stab at a law career (two years diploma at Edinburgh Uni and then an apprenticeship at Brodie’s!). They both didn’t work. But I’m not awfully sure law careers work either to be honest. Ask Donald about that one.
Then one day a chap called Gavin Cherry bumped into me off-piste at Hillend and asked what I was doing. Apart from stating the obvious that I was talking to him off-piste at Hillend, I said that I wasn’t doing that much. He said that he was looking for someone to do the accounts at a nursing home he owned. He also owned a hotel and a flower shop and worked from his ‘office’ in Kays Bar. I started doing the books for the flower shop too and I soon found myself getting into the flower industry. After a fall out, the manager John and I, opened our own little enterprise in a garage in sunny Sighthill and scooted around town delivering flowers to bars and restaurants and all those who needed flowers. Actually ‘scooting’ was not far off the mark as I would often use my bike to deliver flowers hastily down town in heavy traffic. And I am convinced that Mr Deliveroo chap nabbed my idea when he clocked me one day flying down the Mound with my flower bouquet under arm. ‘Deliveroo’ obviously has it’s roots in ‘gardez-loo’ and our cut flower enterprise in Edinburgh. All this led to further shops called ‘Bloemen Ecke’ in Morningside and Murrayfield. People would see me weaving through traffic in the centre of town, bouquet under arm, and exclaim ‘bloomin heck!’ (sorry but I now jest!)
A shop next to our Murrayfield premise came up for rent and I took it over to start a little cafe which failed miserably. However a bloke I’d met at Valvona and Crolla took it over and made a go at it. I took up the violin, achieved my ambition of getting into The Really Terrible Orchestra by sending Alexander McCall-Smith a wee note and a bunch of flowers and went to Crail for the summer. I got a job caddying in St Andrews, started my blog and a wee column for Hong Kong Golf Monthly (don’t ask how). I wrote an article on the R&A and was reprimanded by the St Andrews caddie master for bringing the ‘reputation of caddies into disrepute’ (I have framed this letter by the way) for using the word ‘elitist’, but mainly over a jocular comment about two nice old buddies having a bit of a post-lunch snooze on a comfy sofa in that very reputable and esteemed Royal and Ancient clubhouse. I was cautioned, banned from working on the Old Course and sent back to the Castle course for my misdemeanours. I didn’t curry favour overly though by titling my next article ‘Banished to the Castle’. I then went to caddy at the Fairmont and had a wee fling as a breakfast chef at The Albany and mixologist at Hotel du Vin. Both jobs lasting a month.
My pal Mick has much more money than me and I had an option to buy the flower shop and the cafe properties. Mick then bought them both and we were able to indulge our dream of setting up a bistro. But that’s when things got a bit complicated and a bit sour and a bit disastrous. I gave up my fifty per cent interest in the flowers as part of the deal with John (in order that he forsake the premises) and got a bad name as some stupid people thought I’d done the nasty on him (actually he did pretty well, waltzing off with a hundred per cent of quite a successful flower business, albeit he forewent the opportunity to buy into the premises).
Mick, me and the other chap then opened the bistro which lasted four months. Subsequently I got a worse name as we had got rid of our chef/other proprietor (the chap who had run the cafe) after 3 months and some stupid people thought I’d done the dirty on him too. But I hadn’t (he was in fact the only one that made any money from the doomed enterprise). He had about as much clue of how to run a professional kitchen as I have of sheep shearing. Nevertheless I got some pretty nasty phone calls along the lines that I was not the flavour of the month in Upper Roseburn.
Then Covid struck and I licked my wounds and laid low in St Andrews and I thought about writing my memoirs.
A few weeks ago though, we started negotiating the purchase of a wee pad in Edinburgh close to my wife’s work and I thought it would be quite a rum thing to start working again. I’ve missed Edinburgh and I suppose I’ve missed working (well working with good people I mean). So at 12.45 on a clear Tuesday morning three weeks back, I took the bull by the horns and swaggered into the Waldorf and up to The Pompadour where I was fortunate to come across the general manager of the new Dean Banks restaurant there. I had a brief chat and a text from Marek three hours later, getting me in for a Thursday trial.
The rest is history in the making.