I hadn’t enjoyed my last couple of years at Woodmansterne. And I suspected – or more accurately, knew – that by making me redundant this family firm were creating a slot for their son. I could have reacted with anger. I could have made a fuss. But there was no point. I had what I wanted – a useful, if not hugely generous fund to help me start my new venture. And I prefer reconciliation and forgiveness to anger and conflict.
Which could be why, just after I’d left, the IBS I’d had for the previous two years disappeared. Overnight…
After my first day – working on my commission for Kodak – I took time to reflect. What could I do to bring in more work?
Bear in mind that this was 1982, and the web was still a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye. Fax machines were only just coming into use. And personal computers? They, too, were just getting started. Which, as it happened, gave me a valuable opportunity. (But that’s another story.)
If I wanted copy-editing or proofreading work (and I did) my best bet was the small ads at the back of the Bookseller magazine, where publishers often placed requests for freelance help.
If I wanted anything else I needed to use my contacts.
I was already a member of the Audio Visual Association, the nearest thing to networking I was doing at the time. But I’d also made some contacts through my work at Woodmansterne – and one of them was a Lakeland farmer with a Big Idea.
He wanted to create a Lakeland Experience – a show on the scale of my Kodak job, but designed to be shown in a custom-built theatre that would effectively deliver an introduction to the Lakes. With huge opportunities for retail and marketing.
And I only knew about that opportunity because I’d kept up friendly relations with the Woodmansterne family.
When I drove up to see him I also met the producer he’d hired to work on the project – a young creative genius by the name of Tim Ball. Tim and I hit it off straight away, and were very soon discussing the shape and content of the presentation. During my time at Woodmansterne I’d already done a considerable amount of writing, editing and research on relevant content – so I began the work quickly and with confidence. Sadly the project leader fell out with Tim after a couple of months – but I still completed the project, and the Lakeland Experience became a reality soon after that.
In the long run I don’t believe it was a success – but that’s the risk with any high-cost venture. For me, it was a wonderful and fulfilling project which delivered an unexpected bonus.
Because it wasn’t long before I heard from Tim Ball. Who wondered if I’d like to do some scripting for him…