Liz Brett: Consultant from Sydney, Australia
“There is something about that kind of power, influence and money. And admittedly, it can get the better of us.”
“Working in the energy sector means I am used to being the only woman in the room who isn’t a secretary or someone taking notes. The older the men, the more they treat you like an idiot, a child or a play thing.
“My last project was worth £2.5 billion. After we had finished, I went for a drink with an old boss – a mentor and a really lovely family man. We were actually talking about his wife when he placed his hand high up on my thigh and suggested I go up to his hotel room so he could show me the view and maybe we could ‘do something naughty’. I jumped up, said I needed to get the last tube, and ran out.
“There is something about that kind of power, influence and money. And admittedly, it can get the better of us. After our last project got approved, our boss opened up a bottle of illegal, 70 over-proof bootlegged Irish ‘spirit’ and everyone did shots out of a skull glass. And I admit there was one time I had sex with a co-worker in the boardroom…”
Jan Flac: PR from London, UK
“I’ve met a range of celebs from 50 Cent, Far East Movement, Ed Sheeran, P Diddy and countless TV personalities, football players and athletes.”
“I work for various high-profile London clubs in the West End and Chelsea. Discretion is key. Girls often try to flirt with me to meet celebrities, get into the most exclusive clubs and party with table spenders.
“Meeting celebrities is just part of the job. I usually engage in some light banter and maybe take a picture together. I’ve met a range of celebs from 50 Cent, Far East Movement, Ed Sheeran, P Diddy and countless TV personalities, football players and athletes.
“Lindsey Lohan rented a separate room in the club for a couple of her friends to practice her DJ skills. The club’s staff gave her some instructions and she invited a couple of us to join in and dance with her, which was very sweet.
“Of course, there are times when you can catch a celebrity on a bad day. I asked one particular celebrity to take a picture together for some of my friends and I was shocked at how harshly I was rejected. Later on, I realised that person might’ve been under influence of some weird substances…
“The strangest part of my job is that I need to sell alcohol as a part of the entertainment – even though I don’t drink myself. When Far East Movement came to one of the club nights, they let me hang out with them, which was amazing! But at one point one of the band members poured a lot of vodka into my glass. I was so embarrassed when I was forced to politely explain that I don’t drink and excuse myself. The whole crew just stared at me aghast.”
Alex Lewis: London bus driver from London, UK
“We see it all. Passengers get up to all kinds of things on the top deck.”
“I’ve been driving buses for five years. And no, we are not all grumpy. Put yourself in our shoes. With an average of 86 passengers board, only six will make eye contact, say thank you or even just say hello! In fact, most people look at the bus driver like we’re some sort of autonomous android.
“I’ll never forget the passenger who gave me a bottle of champagne and £500 just for getting him to Waterloo five minutes early.
“Being a bus driver is highly skilled – not everyone can
do it. My company receives more than 500 applications every year and from that, only 30 will make it.
“Some people just fancy a change in life. I have a physics degree and was stuck in the finance industry, making money but I was unhappy. We have ex-police, military, teachers, part-time mothers and students driving buses. Some of us sit as Magistrates in the Courts around London – so don’t think that we are all uneducated morons.
“We see it all. Passengers get up to all kinds of things on the top deck. Especially on New Year’s Eve, when people can’t keep their hands off each other. When we have fights on board, women are much more violent than men and really go all out to hurt each other. Also, you’d be surprised to know how many parents leave their kids on board!”
Marcus Ryan: Comedian from Victoria, Australia
“The very first thing I do when I get off stage is immediately have sex with one of my back-up dancers.”
“I get the same response from people when I tell them what I do. ‘Say something funny’, or, ‘You haven’t made me laugh yet’. It can get tedious, so I tend not to tell anyone anymore. Instead, I’ll try to practice new material by sneaking it into conversation, but most of my material is from random conversations I have.
“We call the comedian groupies ‘chuckle-fuckers’. I have been stalked by fans before. One girl blatantly propositioned me and waited outside Edinburgh’s The Stand Comedy Club for hours after closing. My friends and I literally had to make a run for it.
“The very first thing I do when I get off stage is immediately have sex with one of my back-up dancers. Actually, that was only when I was in Riverdance. Now, I usually just switch off my recording device, tick off the gags that didn’t work in my notebook and write down any new notes that popped up in the show.
“I have the same backstage performance ritual before going on stage. I write out the set-list in a pocketbook. Even if I already know my routine by heart, I carry it in my back pocket – sort of like a safety blanket. Then I’ll finally get on stage and do something completely different when I get to the mic!
“Sometimes I’ll push a joke too far and just know that the audience isn’t ready for it. But I don’t get nervous anymore, so silence or a joke that bombs or hecklers don’t bother me like they used to.”
Danielle Morley: Nanny from Wagga, Australia
“He told me to come and sit on his lap and we could talk about the first thing that pops up!”
“I’ve been a live-out nanny with for five-and-a-half years. The worst part is not finishing on time! If your boss is home late, you can’t just leave. The best part of the job is the kids. Once, after a trip to the park, we saw a homeless man asleep in the doorway. One of the children crept up to him, leaned into his face and screamed, “Raaahh!” The poor man got such a fright! I had to work overtime to suppress my laughter as I tried to scold them.
“Another time, I was standing on a train platform. One of the kids said: “I like it between my legs, it keeps me nice and warm.” It took me a few seconds to realise she was referring to her school bag!
“People often think I just get to sit around all day and watch daytime TV. But we work 10-12 hour days and rarely get a moment ourselves. The worst type of bosses are those who treat me like I am just ‘the help’.
“On my first nanny job, the dad had a few glasses of wine. He told me to come and sit on his lap and we could talk about the first thing that pops up! And no, I did not sit on his lap!”
Benjamin Victor: Theatre usher from London, UK
“There have been so many times where I have been blamed personally for patrons not liking the show.”
“We are not all failed or depressed actors. I’m actually a very happy actor! As an usher, you are privy to some people’s best and worst behavior. There have been so many times where I have been blamed personally for patrons not liking the show, or arriving late and not being allowed in.
“Patrons get upset with me if they’ve mistakenly booked the wrong seats or have a bad view. One couple recently refused to sit down at all during the play because they were so incensed. They stood directly in front of a fire exit and I had to ask them to leave.
“But then there are those unforgettable moments. On my first shift as an usher, after the bustling crowds had left I ended up at the cast party with the artistic director, the remaining cast and a handful of rather inebriated ushers, dancing and singing the night away – Year Six disco style – with the leading man on the DJ decks!”
Des Burkinshaw: Journalist from Luton, UK
“Nothing can ever top the day I spent jamming with Paul McCartney at his studio in Rye.”
“I come from a council estate, but I worked my way through the ranks of the media industry for 26 years – as a journalist for the BBC, The Times and producer of the ITV Chart Show and Glastonbury. The biggest perk of my job is the people I’ve met – but nothing can ever top the day I spent jamming with Paul McCartney at his studio in Rye. That was my schoolboy dream come true.
“There are moments when you can get caught up and feel like a celebrity yourself. I’ll never forget when a hotel receptionist at the Beverly Hills Hotel called my suite in the middle of a filming session for the BBC to say: “Hi, is Miss Nancy Sinatra there? I’ve got a Miss Mia Farrow on the line for her.” I couldn’t relay the message because Miss Sinatra was in the bathroom, so I got told off by Mia Farrow. But when she found out I was from the BBC she became much more playful. I then had the opportunity to deliver a pretty good showbiz line myself, holding out the phone and announcing: “Nancy? I’ve got Mia Farrow on the line for you.”
Danielle Senior: Songwriter, vocalist, and vocal producer from Devon, UK
“Full on fights have erupted in the studio with artists I’ve worked with.”
“I’ve been a professional songwriter for five years. The music industry is akin to a playground where the big kids decide who is cool and who’s not. Full on fights have erupted in the studio with artists I’ve worked with. Tensions can mount when you’re put under pressure to write a hit.
“Sometimes the kind of persistence people show is not far from stalking. I’ve heard stories of A&R (Artists and Repertoire – in charge of scouting talent and overseeing the artistic development of artists and songwriters) literally ducking underneath their desks when they see a particularly ‘persistent’ producer or songwriter walk through the door.
“Rock producer, Chris Tsangarides once told me that Linda Perry of the 4 Non Blondes called him day and night to try to get him to work with her. Now Linda Perry is one of the most successful producers in the world. It goes to show what people will do to make it in the industry.”
Chris Harries*: Lawyer from Melbourne, Australia
“As lawyers, we’re under huge pressure to know the answers – although I’ve seen my own bosses make it up as they go.”
“I never tell anyone I’m a lawyer. That means I’ll be stuck buying the drinks. If anyone says they’re happy earning minimum wage while living in London, then they’re lying.
“I love what I do. Not just because of the money and prestige, but because I came from a small Australian town and now I’m working on international billion-dollar cases in London. I’ve come a long way from working my first $500 car crash case.
“As lawyers, we’re under huge pressure to win cases, to know the answers – although I’ve seen my own bosses make it up as they go – to work 16-hour days and bill clients every possible minute of the day. We buy gifts for our wives and girlfriends to keep them happy while we put in long hours. No wonder we’re exhausted, irritable and why some people accuse us of having big egos.”
Maria Kelley*: Market researcher from Canada
“Little did I know I would gain confessions about watching porn on the bus!”
“I’ve been in market research for 12 years. The biggest perk is we often get to keep the products that are tested in the focus groups. This often means dozens of boxes of biscuits, ice cream cones, coffee pods and baked goods.
Some people are just looking to make some quick cash and will cheat the system by lying on the qualifying questions. Other times, people are too honest! I once did a focus group with 16-17-year-old males about using the internet on their mobiles. I worked really hard to come across as someone cool that they could be open with – little did I know I would gain confessions about watching porn on the bus and having naked video chats with their girlfriends!”