Symphony No.7 in A Major, Second Movement by Ludwig van Beethoven, 1813
* Listen to the song HERE *
Much of my work ethic and shrewd business acumen appears to have come from my father, Jim. He had a number of different careers throughout his working life, one of which was kick-started by my mother getting pregnant – all plans of being an artist vanished and instead he became a self-employed picture framer, eventually running a workshop and gallery in London Victoria.
The work involved a fair amount of driving around London which I think he liked. His hard-nosed business approach and ability to focus on the job at hand with no distractions is perhaps best illustrated by his once enjoying a cassette of Beethoven's 7th Symphony on the car stereo so much he had to keep driving round the block of the gallery until it finished and he could then park the car and go back in to work.
He employed a team of highly professional and dedicated workers, one of whom had a fascination for Vikings and worked upstairs in the workshop. One day this man proudly descended the spiral staircase sporting a Viking helmet, sword and shield, all beautifully made out of the gallery’s framing supplies and done during work hours.
Another employee who had a reputation for being totally irresponsible asked my father if he'd employ an equally irresponsible friend of his. As anyone in business knows, first impressions from a prospective employer are crucial. During his first meeting with my father, this gentleman proceeded to get so drunk he had to be carried off to bed.
He got the job.
The gallery launched the careers of many exciting young painters and there was nobody else in London producing such high quality, specialized, time-consuming, hand-crafted decorative framing. They were never short of work and had the luxury of having a number of extremely wealthy clients, including Lawrence Olivier, Peter Sellers, Joan & Jackie Collins, Max Bygraves, and others to whom money was no object.
My father under-charged and the business closed. But even so he still talks very fondly of that period of his working life.
My mother does not.