Thursday 20 August 2015

My Scrumdiddlyumptious New Job at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre!

When I was a child, I LOVED Roald Dahl books, from the first time that the rest of classmates and I sat down on the crowded manky carpet and listened to our teacher read ‘The Witches.’ It was like nothing I’d ever heard before, and when the teacher showed us the Quenton Blake illustrations of a witch and a non-witch and asked us which we thought was the actual witch, we were all amazed that we got it wrong!

I begged my mother to buy a copy of the book so I could read it myself, and know what happens before the rest of my class mates, and of course, grateful I was showing an interest in reading my mum obliged; only to find out everybody else had had the same idea and the whole class was racing to finish the book first.

Despite my difficulties reading due to severe dyslexia, I read my way through every Roald Dahl book I could find, including the auto-biographies ‘Boy’ and ‘Solo’. I loved the dark humour, the word play and the creepy characters, and I knew that the effort of reading would be paid off with a rip-roaring good yarn. My childhood is saturated by memories of Roald Dahl. A firm family favourite film was Danny the Champion of the world with Jeremy Irons and then amazement when at Christmas the animated version of The BFG came out, made even funnier as my Dad at the time looked identical to the BFG!

Even into my adulthood Roald Dahl shaped my endeavours, when studying Fine Art at university we were paired up and told to give our partner a copy of our favourite book, and that we should use the books to produce some artworks. I gave my partner ‘Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH’ [sorry Oz!] but my partner gave me ‘Revolting Rhymes.’ The book lead me down a path that reignited my love for fairy tales, and my art work became fairy tale themed and this eventually resulted in me picking up a pen and beginning to write what would become Through Mortal Eyes.

So when I first visited The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, when my daughter was attending a Puffin Post event for their child guest editors for the ‘Pufflings Magazine’ in 2011 I was utterly amazed that I hadn’t discovered it before , and got very excited about sitting in his chair! I can remembering thinking how great I would be to work there and what a pity it was that it’s wasn’t within commutable distance.

Then luck changed, as we moved over to Buckinghamshire and settled I a house within sniffing distance of the museum , I started stalking the web-site hoping that a suitable job roll may come up that I could apply for. To my joy, in early summer they advertised for Front of House Staff, so I applied. This was terrifying as it’s been a very long time since I last applied for a job, and I had to write up all my eclectic work experience up on to a coherent and appealing CV. 

Photo from The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, thank you!

I was relieved when I was offered an opportunity to audition for the job. Yes, you read that right, AUDITION! So after a spot of cram re-reading of Roald Dahl classics, and a minor outfit catastrophe, I turned up for the audition. I was surprised by the amount of people who were attending, there were a least a dozen and half applicants; from students and teachers, to creative-writing graduates and illustrators. We weren’t the only audition session either, so one thing was clear it was a desirable job with lots of competition.

The audition was fun and designed to get everyone interacting, with games, and then splitting us into teams and assigning us a project, that we were to collaborate on and then report back to the rest of the applicants and interviewers. I enjoyed the audition, and found that all the applicants were lovely people and we all got on easily. When the session was over and I drove home I had no idea how it had went, and prepared myself for the worst.

I was overjoyed to be called into interview, which despite being on an incredibly hot day, I enjoyed, and I thought went well. But I was completely ecstatic when I got offered the job, cue, dancing around the house like a heffalump!

So with much trepidation I ventured to Great Missenden for my first shadowing day, following an experienced Front of House member of staff around and learning the roll hands on. Thankfully, everyone who works at the museum is cherry and friendly, which quickly put me at ease. I adorned my purple shirt and plunged into the world of Dahl, as we worked at the ticket desk, and manned the galleries and exhibitions. I found that I could converse with the visitors with ease, and my days volunteering in a book shop had really been a good foundation for working in the shop. I’m really enjoying it so far, and I shall blog again about how it goes when I’ve settled into the roll.