Donald MacInnes: I was fired for making up horoscopes and then my lifestyle deteriorated


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The Independent Online

Judging by the literally no emails my secretary Karen received while I was off, you welcomed my break from The Independent as much as I did.

Actually, one or two things about that opening statement are incorrect. First, my week at home was not a break… I worked my age-defying ass off. Second, there is no Karen. I have, to put it mildly, no secretary. Neither do I have any good reason for failing to file last week’s column. Although I spent the week painting and decorating (in the loosest sense of the word), I could have used the dictaphone function in my mobile to compose ITR while I was sloshing emulsion.

But, as my wife will testify (in a court of law, if I don’t pull my socks up), I am to multi-tasking what Chewbacca is to a tidy bikini area. Being a guy, I can only really do one thing at a time. If I’m scanning the range of wood screws in B&Q, Mrs MacInnes knows not to ask me whether I like this shade of shower curtain or that one.

I’ll only nod and grunt at the wrong time, thereby voting for the wrong colour and making her question both my judgement and her marriage vows.

And talking about vows, two weeks ago I promised to go into a little more detail about the worst job I ever had. I was trying to break back into journalism, having been fired from my first job, on the teenage magazine Patches, for making up the horoscopes. Due to my desperation, I accepted a post on a lifestyle magazine called Gloss, which was owned by an American woman who, if Glaswegian gossip were to be believed, was actually [this section redacted by Independent lawyers] in a red wig and bad shoes. She had life-sized china panthers guarding the entrance to the living room in her mansion and no intention of making me rich. As a result, I was paid £50 a week to fan through the Yellow Pages for businesses to call and pester into agreeing to meet with our sales manager, who drove an actual DeLorean and favoured vivid, silk kerchiefs in his top pocket.

If I secured an appointment for him with an existing client and he sold them ad space, my bonus was £2. If it was a new client (unusual, given the rarity of people who hadn’t been shafted by the owner before), I got a tenner.

Once, a new client I sourced bought 12 back pages for about £15,000. I got a tenner. Beautiful, eh? No wonder I used to sleep under my desk when everyone was out. I became so desperate that I’d book the salesman into appointments he had no possibility of making. I once got him a 9am meeting in Glasgow with a 10am booking in Aberdeen. I suppose, because he drove a DeLorean, I assumed time travel would be no problem. Further evidence, if it were needed, that I’ve been underperforming my whole career.

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