The Good Juice JohnnyFox May 14, 2007 Other Writing I am a man of little ambition. I wrote that to see if it looked any more true on the screen than it did in my head. Any plateau of achievement to which I ever ascended was done not with the crampons and pick of study and struggle but if not exactly in a taxi, at least by stepping on the nearest convenient escalator without bothering too much where it was headed. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t care about getting there. My educational path was more or less chosen by my parents and dictated by A-Level results and I’m now grateful – at least financially – they resisted my teenage efforts to “go on the stage” and forced me instead through the BA (Hons) sausage factory of Lancaster University. From then on, I think they took the stablisers off my bike, but my choice of career was pretty much a lottery. Having had “vocational guidance” from the employment service when I returned early from my not-so-successful get-away-from-home teaching job in Switzerland, I opted for a sort of internship in the Architect’s Department of Southampton University for the twin and dubious reasons of (1) that was the only job anyone offered me at the time and (2) a man cruised me whilst I was browsing in an estate agent’s window the night before my interview. The cruising led to nothing, which isn’t a bad metaphor. Fast forward five years through the claustrophpobia of office life in the carbon-paper seventies, and the motive that catapulted me to London and into the more glamorous world of architecture and design was not a burning ambition to put my stamp on the interior world, but the chance to live with a boyfriend in Chiswick. By one of those serendipitous accidents that occasionally makes me think there may be Guardian Angels, and actually from an advertisement in the Guardian on one of the very few occasion where I opened the paper, I got a job in a “top architectural practice” as something called “Furniture and Furnishings Specifier” for which I applied on the basis that I knew what two out of the three big words meant. And served there man and boy for 12 years before the company took the unwise step of a stock exchange flotation and promptly went tits up within eighteen months. I scuttled around the fringes of the design business for four more years being quite ashamed of myself for selling carpets until an ex-colleague invited me to help him write a proposal for an airport design in the former Soviet Union. We really were Kitchen Table Architects plc and the sort of design jam in a team sandwich scraped together, from similar adventurous small firms, by British Aerospace. We later suspected it was a front to supply armaments and fighter planes to the Uzbek regime, but none of that stopped me being “Design Director, Tashkent Airport” for two years … until the project plug was pulled, or maybe the Uzbeks didn’t want to buy the Hawk and Tornado fighter jets with buy-one-get-one-free gonad-zapping taser guns, and it all stopped before we’d built anything. I could rattle on, and catalogue my “Barclays years” but my design career continued to a point at which I became bored with the repetition. People think interior design ought to be creative and fun and absorbing, but it’s more about budgets, and programming and wrangling with building contractors and furniture manufacturers. So thanks to a little good luck in the property market, I now seem to have reached a ledge on which to rest and where work isn’t quite as important as it used to be, and I rather like the view from up here. What I don’t really like is my lack of motivation to do much else. I can’t seem to find a charitable or worthwhile project to grab my interest, and my resistance to the mosh pit of the construction industry has just allowed me to turn down a massively well paid job on the Russian Front (it would have meant working in Moscow) for a venture capital firm fitting out offices in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Angola, and Nigeria. Apart from the fact that those are places to go and get killed rather than choose wallpaper, I’m too old to spend my evenings with lonely room service in distant Hiltons and/or getting pissed with quantity surveyors. So I return to my lack of acquisitiveness. There really is no “thing” that I covet, not a car or a boat or a boys’ toy like a private plane or a supermodel, and the only differentiation I seem to make in my routine between when I’m feeling flush and working, and when I’m not, is that I like to send my sheets to the laundry and tend to buy the freshly-squeezed orange juice in the supermarket, instead of the cartons. I think if all I crave, at this time of my life, is the Good Juice, that represents some kind of contentment.