Some are questionable, others are admirable, but all of them unorthodox – there sure are some unusual jobs being carried out in the capital, as TNT found out.
Doing post mortems on whales
While we like to think of zoos as being filled with lively creatures, the reality is there are dead ones, too. Scalpel in hand, Rob Deaville, 42, project manager at the Institute of Zoology’s Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, dives into the blubbery casings of whales, seals, porpoises and dolphins that have been stranded around the British coast.
As well as working at the laboratory tables at ZSL London Zoo, Deaville, from Brighton, who works in a team of three, gets called out to attend the strandings. “It’s always interesting when I get a call on the train about work. I field some weird looks from people who are off to their desk jobs, while I’m off to cut open a whale,” Deaville says.
William Leigh beat 3000 applicants to nab every woman’s dream job of taste assistant at Green & Blacks in central London.
The PR fluff will have you believe the 33-year-old works hard to achieve chocolate greatness – “starting at 8am … working hard to develop new flavours” … blah blah. Put simply, he eats chocolate all day. Although, Leigh’s CV lends some clout: he trained for two years as a chocolatier and he was an established food writer before landing the job earlier this year. He also had to undergo a tough application process, including identifying the spices infused into a selection of ganaches.
But the perks are obvious: “I’ve always got a bar in my pocket, there are bars at my desk and my fridge is full of the stuff, too. My job is amazing,” Leigh, from Stockwell, boasts.
Ruth Myers’s ability to study writing has been used as forensic evidence in court, and to get inside the heads of serial killers – including Harold Shipman, the doctor who killed his patients and re-wrote their wills.
Magazines and tabloid newspapers also consult Myers, 57, for her take on celebs. She once studied the writing of Prince William and Kate Middleton. “She’s outgoing and he’s an introvert,” she reveals. “It’s just a physical attraction.”
Myers, from Barnet, has practiced the science for 17 years, having studied graphology and forensics in Chicago.
Our writing can reveal things about us we don’t even know, she claims.
She adds: “Most people go through life not realising their full potential, being someone who people think they are. But through their writing, I can tell them a lot more.” (ruthmyers.com).
Set up in Hamleys Toy Shop in Regent Street for 25 years performing Marvin’s Magic tricks (marvinsmagic.com), Bruce Smith has played to awed audiences and a superstar or two.
“Michael Jackson came in seven times and I always showed him something new. In one of the last times he came in, he leant over to me and said, ‘I remember you’ and I said, ‘I remember you, too’. He said, ‘I want some levitation’, so I showed him the levitating match trick. He loved it.
“When he went to leave, he stood at the door with 500 or so fans screaming on the other side and turned around and said, ‘So how do you get that ring to go around the match?’ I liked his priorities,” Smith, 49, says. Smith got into the job because he was, by his own admission, rubbish at everything else, and says the best magicians are those who appear to be as amazed as their audience that a trick has pulled off.
Hearing dog trainer
Brenda Butler teaches dogs how to hear on behalf of deaf owners. As a partnership support instructor for Hearing Dogs For Deaf People, she shadows her clients and their canine helpers in their daily lives.
Butler, 56, can be found making strange requests to authorities to sound emergency alarms for training, in which case a dog will lie down in front of their owner. “It’s the owner’s job to determine what the alarm is for,” Butler says. “I knew one deaf lady, without a dog, who went into a fitting room to try on a dress, then came out and found the shop was deserted.
“Deafness is a hidden illness, and often people just find it easier to ignore deaf people. So, besides acting as a warning sign, dogs also encourage people to approach the owners. Sometimes this can be the only contact with the world they ever get.”
Words: Rebecca Kent