Monday's book: Can You Have It All? Nicola Horlick (Macmillan pounds 16.99)

"You'll get fucking nowhere like that!" One of the many joys of working for Stan Reynolds on Punch was his ability to go from nought to foaming in a pico-second.

I was eating a sandwich at my desk while working. "Nibble, nibble mousekin at your desk. You'll get fucking nowhere. You go out and get yourself a dinner with gravy on it, like a man, or you'll get nowhere."

I followed this excellent careers advice and only my dilatory nature has prevented me from rising to the giddy heights of Nicola Horlick.

I pass on Stan's advice because, after wading through this desperately dull, self-absorbed tome, I have been unable to glean any useful tips on 'How to succeed in a man's world', as offered in the subtitle.

Nicola does have something useful to say about Christmas trees, though. When you go to buy your tree, she advises, take your Christmas tree stand along with you. Then the tree seller can, with a few sure blows from his trusty axe, trim your chosen tree to the correct size.

Now the Christmas tree in question was for a little do that Nicola was giving for her team at Morgan Grenfell. They were all feeling pretty demoralised after the manager of the European unit trust, Peter Young, had "bought a number of unsuitable investments for the fund and had been dismissed from the company".

That's putting it with rubber gloves. Despite the well-fitting Christmas tree, the bonding benefits of the party didn't last far into the new year. Morgan Grenfell gave Nicola Horlick the keys to the street on 14 January. They claimed she had been about to take her successful pension fund scheme to the Dutch bank ABN Amro.

She's one of those pretty, doll-like women who get just what they want, steamrollering through life and being a little vague where the facts don't quite fit.

When the girl playing Elizabeth Proctor in Nicola's Oxford production of The Crucible doesn't come up to scratch, guess who takes over her part? Later, residents in a building find the place reduced to a nightmare of dust and builders because Nicola has decided that extensions will add to the value.

Still, it's not been easy. They lived in terrible poverty, forced to survive on mushroom risotto and stuffed peppers and do without curtains in their South Kensington flat. Even when things were good they had to go without at times. Whole weeks would pass between holidays in hotels in Rome or villas in France.

She has that marvellous lack of self-awareness and ability to re-edit awkward facts that is the key to success in this life. Nicola has run a home, earned a lot of money and given birth to five children thanks to these qualities and the fact that she's very, very clever.

But life can turn nasty on anyone. For the Horlicks it happened when their daughter Georgie's health started to decline. Eventually, leukaemia was diagnosed.

Although she managed to keep working on and off throughout her daughter's traumatic treatment, Nicola Horlick didn't cope with the dreadful experience any better than anyone else. She just gropes along like the rest of us and, for these chapters, you like her and want to read what she has to say. Thankfully Georgie, who sounds a fine, brave child, is now cured.

Profits from this volume will go to the Great Ormond Street Hospital - which, apart from the Christmas tree advice, is the only reason for buying it.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

    £34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

    Developer - WinForms, C#

    £280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform