As a child, one of my favourite TV programmes was Mr Benn. I was a fan of the funny little man, long before his uncle started selling rice. You may remember that he used to be a regular at that dressing-up shop, run by the fez-wearing chap who may, with hindsight, have been Geoffrey Durham. Each week, our hero would don a new costume, sneak out the back of the changing rooms, and have a bit of fun. He discovered what it was like to be a spaceman, a pirate, a clown and a wizard. It was the stuff that dreams were, and still are, made of.
Last month I heard that Tony Gallagher, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, had started a new job. Perhaps unaware of any local dressing up shops, he tipped up at a swanky and delicious London restaurant, called Moro. There, he could be seen chopping up vegetables, lifting boxes and generally mucking in. This completely inspired me. Too few people spice up their working life with this kind of change. I began to wonder why not.
John Le Carré said that a desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world. That said, he probably hadn’t done many all-night-shifts on pot-wash. In fairness to JC, his life was neither safe, nor deskbound. Before writing his successful novels, he used to creep about as a spy called David.
Other famous career changers from history include Harry Hill (a doctor), Jim Bowen (a school-teacher) and Daniel Day Lewis, who has taken various sabbaticals in his time, one of them as an apprentice to some Italian shoemakers. Which may well be cobblers.
Perhaps it was the Littlest Hobo, a singing dog, who put it best;
“Every stop I make, I make a new friend, can’t stay for long, just turn around and I’m gone again”.
As someone who continually lost out to the better-looking Lassie at Crufts, it’s this kind of attitude which, even today, makes the heart beat faster.
Let’s hear it for the career shifters. From Mr Benn to Tony Benn (who worked as a radio producer), it takes courage and a sense of adventure to pick out a new costume.
In his recent example, Tony Gallagher’s new job has got me thinking. Perhaps it’s time for a personal career move.
Maybe to Moro.