Sunday 14 February 1999
I left Oxford with a startlingly bad third in English literature and without a clue of what I was going to do. I was at a neighbour's party telling this woman my tale of woe, and the next thing I knew I was being propelled in front of Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, as an editorial assistant. It was a very good starting place. I learnt a lot and met a huge number of people, some of whom now write for us.
The editor of GQ asked me to be his PA, which I wasn't at all sure about. I was hopeless and although I met my husband there, things ground to a halt. Then I had a stretch of doing freelance journalism and research work, and pretending to be writing a novel.
I had nearly taken a job as a market researcher when James Maclean asked me to help out at The Erotic Print Society, which seemed much more my style. I started helping out on the newsletter and in December 1997 I approached Auberon Waugh to write for the issue, which was terrifying. He accepted. I persuaded Waterstone's to stock it and by Christmas we had 10,000 new subscriptions.
I do think that if you don't know what you want to do, you have to be open to the unexpected and seize the moment. It's very easy to narrow down and not go seeking opportunities. I don't think you can underestimate how much putting your all into something, however mundane, counts. You've got to be prepared to look failure in the face. Looking stupid - the worst possible outcome - well that's not the worst thing in life is it?
Life & Style blogs
What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
Why you should never make assumptions about people with autism
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
From criminal to catwalk: Convict Jeremy Meeks wins modelling contract in the most unusual fashion scouting – behind bars
Holi: Festival of colours honoured with Google Doodle – here's what you need to know about the celebration
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
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