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From Woking to Weymouth – a Toastmasters Speech (1)

I’d like to invite you to share my journey from Woking to Weymouth via a 14 year stop over in Worthing.  I should say that there was a six-month pit stop in Wareham.  But in the scheme of things this is the only mention it is going to get in the five minutes I’ve got!

Our journey starts in 1980 with a young person’s rail card, purple hair and a Honda Express.  I lived in Woking then and travelled the 7 miles each day to Debenhams in Guildford on my Honda Express.

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Honda Express!  Its name somewhat belies its performance.  The top speed was 29 miles per hour and that was going down hill with the wind behind.  It served me well during my first year of employment and … getting to the numerous parties, we teenagers had a tendency of attending.

The Honda Express was short lived due to a promotion. I relocated with Debenhams in Worthing where I rented a flat, (with ice on the inside of the windows) just five minutes walk from the store.  Instead, a dog-eared young person’s rail card stayed with me for a further four years, subsidising many a trip home.

I bought my first car, a sunshine yellow MGB GT when I changed jobs to work for Evans (Outsize) Ltd as a branch manager.  I loved that car.  I joined the MG Owners Club and completed the King and Barnes Brewery Pub Challenge. That took boyfriend and I around 53 pubs collecting stickers to prove we’d had a pint in each.

Alas! I lost the MGB in a car accident delivering a girdle to one of my customers in Brighton.  This was two weeks before I was to attend a second interview with a ‘small’ ladies fashion company in Weymouth called New Look.

I bought the cheapest car I could find, a mustard Lada with chocolate brown ‘go faster’ stripes down the side.  Mmm! The heater didn’t work, I got a puncture and the indicators failed.  I had to use hand signals.  By the time I got to Weymouth I was freezing.  Thankfully, I got the job and, as an area manager, it came with a brand new, postbox red Peugeot 205.  It was luxury and I was very lucky.

Three years later, New Look was no longer a small ladies fashion chain. Me? I was the regional controller looking after six UK area managers and the French expansion programme.  Over the next couple of years, I averaged 50 thousand miles a year in my sleek, black Mazda 626 with intermittent windscreen wipers.

Sadly, All good things must come to an end and this was the final rung in my climb up the corporate ladder.  The redundancy money was invested in a shop called Welcome Home in Worthing Town Centre and to this day, it still exists.  I call this my maroon period.

Back went the Mazda 626.  My husband and I purchased a dark red tank; otherwise known as a Ford Granada.  It lumbered backwards and forward to London picking up and delivering furniture, paints, gifts and other shop stock. It served us well, but I wasn’t sorry when it ended up in my husband’s possession as part of the divorce settlement.

A year on and out of the blue, I had a call asking me to go and run a small ladies fashion chain in Weymouth called Excel Clothing.  Iain, the boyfriend, and I jumped at the chance to buy a home together and start a new chapter in our lives.  So here, we are in Weymouth in 1998 with a new house, in a new town and an executive Honda Accord.

Sadly, this was repossessed when I put the company into liquidation three years later. That’s another … long story … for another time.

Nowadays, I am driving our second hand Volvo Estate.  It is totally practical for our ‘middle age’ life style which includes a six year old Black Labrador, Wilbur and the impending arrival of Angus, a Choc lab puppy this weekend.

The Volvo; it is big, it is comfortable and it is safe.  But you know what?  I would much rather be driving a sporty black Audi TT wouldn’t you?

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