Every morning I visited my sister S to try on the clothes that she had acquired for me from the charity shops the previous day. It was also our habit to watch half an hour of terrible daytime television together before I set off to work. S lived in Newcastle’s ‘Venice’, a shocking pink complex created in the lower levels of an abandoned NCP car park next to the River Tyne. The mix of inhabitants included several rather inactive families. I wondered why the children didn’t attend school.
One day Venice’s architect came to visit her creation. She recognised S from her interview for art college, and asked what she was up to these days. S explained that her main occupation was charity shop shopping. I displayed my morning haul of jackets and tops as evidence of S’s buying skills. It looked like the architect was also impressed with S’s eye for fashion, and was about to offer her a job. I wasn’t able to stay long enough to find out if this really was the case.
Instead I had an appointment with an all-male team of staff from a professional body and a consultancy firm. Before sitting down to discuss business each morning they completed a 5k hill race through the forest. If I wanted to work with them, I had to do the same. It was very painful running over stony tracks in pop socks. They were ripped to shreds by the end of the exercise.
I had harboured a personal ambition to beat S in the race, so was rather disappointed when he didn’t participate on this particular morning.