Fiona Reid Solicitor
We've all been there haven't we? You know, that time when we were young and we wondered what we wanted to be when we 'grew up'. Well, I loved art - my pictures were always placed on show by my teachers at junior school and a picture of mine was placed on display at the Grundy Art Gallery in the 'Young Seasiders' exhibition - and I really wanted to be a graphic designer. Well, that was until senior school when my art teacher kept giving me 20% marks for my art work. That was it. In my young teenage mind, I suddenly thought I was rubbish at art. One day, crying and devastated, I asked my mum what I should do now as a career?
'Be a Solicitor, there's money in it' So, that was it. The stone was thrown and I never did art ever again. Two older people in 'authority' had put two messages in my head which would shape the next thirty years of my life. A few years later a message by one more man the same age as my Mum in substantial 'authority' would also make a huge impact on the shape of my life.
'The Solicitors' Room'
Aged 16 doing work experience, I was sat in a filthy, orange coloured, cigarette smoke and tea stained den like a scene from 'Life on Mars' (the 'Solicitors' room' at the Magistrates court) with a bunch of male Solicitors. These were the 'old school' guys who had qualified in the 70's and they were moaning about the job not being what it was (yes, it's true that they did once earn a lot of money charging like rhinos because people were quite fond of their Solicitors prior to the 90s) yet talking about the horses they owned and one Solicitor having a fight with another Solicitor. They told me to go and sit in a particular Court room as there were some interesting cases that morning. They weren't wrong about that. I ventured into the Court room and sat listening about the police doing a raid and man after man was being charged for committing indecent acts with other men in the toilet at the town's bus station and then pleading to the magistrates they would pay any fine they were given 'just so long as the wife didn't find out'. Nice....
Even that didn't put me off, so after not getting Grade As in my A-Levels and inadequate for university (I admit I didn't really put enough effort in as I spent most of my spare time with my older boyfriend who worked at a supermarket and didn't quite understand me needing time to revise) within half an hour of getting my results, I rang the first Solicitors firm I came to in the phone book and took up a job as an office junior on £50 per week. On the 5th September 1994 I began my progression up the legal career ladder. From tea making to secretarial, walking into gay 'saunas' to deliver post and running errands - I've done it all from the bottom to the top and this was just the start.
I can't say that my Mum was wrong in suggesting that I should be a Solicitor - she was wanting the best for me and quite rightly so - but as a parent is it perhaps better to coach the child and get them to extend their own thinking so they personally consider their future career instead of 'suggesting' or 'telling' them? When I was younger, I was easily led and never wanted to let people down so I always just did what I was told. I don't know how you were when you were a teenager but would this make you think about what you say to your child? Would you want your child to look back and think that they only did a job because their mother or father suggested it? I know what I will try to do
And I've never painted a picture since.