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Driving down to Gosport I was thinking that I must be in some cloud cuckoo land. What was a middle aged, fat and unfit woman such as myself doing thinking that I would be accepted to crew a clipper around the world? When I saw “that poster” on the side of a bus shelter in London that asked if I was ready for the race of my life my answer was unequivocally “yes”. The fact that I didn’t know what type of race it was didn’t seem to be in the equation at that point in time. When Paul said I could apply, I nearly fell off the chair. Didn’t expect that – neither did he expect that I would have an interview within a week of him uttering those immortal words.

So, it was down to the South Coast that I went. On a beautiful sunny morning, overlooking the sparkling sea, who wouldn’t want to spend eleven months on a boat? There were eleven of us at the interview – spooky! The first part was a group session where we all got to say who we were and where we came from. A bit like a game show on the TV. Only the prize for this one was they take £45k plus off you for probably the most uncomfortable bed and inedible food I have ever experienced. Chances of me getting a place looking around at the slimmer, fitter and younger co appliers at that point seemed very slim (no pun intended!). So I relaxed and decided to have a good day out at the seaside.

The rest of the group was made up of a student, a junior doctor, a couple of bankers, an electrical expert, a retired and soon to be retired gentleman and a few other odds – one of which owned a company that sorted socks. That’s what he said – and he had to repeat it as no-one else thought that a company could possibly sort socks – but what he actually does, who knows! There were a couple of non English people – the criteria apparently is that English has to be spoken very well, which would probably count out some that were born here! We all had a chat about what we did and what legs we wanted to apply for or whether we were applying for the whole circumnavigation. I am sure David (the interviewer) threw questions into the pot that had far deeper resonations than what they sounded like. He was scribbling away in a notebook – no doubt to weed out those that looked as if they could cause trouble!

After a morning of being told we would be either cold and wet or hot and wet for most of the time, and we would be absolutely fed up to the high teeth of seeing dolphins, we then had to have our individual interviews. It was such a lovely afternoon by then, that most of us went outside in the sunshine until we were called in. When it came to my turn, I was sure he was going to say thanks for coming, but looking at you I don’t think you are quite the calibre candidate we are looking for. He was very pleasant though, and we chatted for about half an hour. Perhaps he was going to let me down gently – or even say those immortal words – “I will let you know in the near future”. But no – I got up to leave, and he shook my hand and said “I think you will be brilliant”.

Perhaps he said that to everyone – or is there a small chance that I have passed the first stage?

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