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Eight things

Posted by Justin Field on August 8, 2008

Eight things you did not know about me:

  1. I was Kelly Girl of the Month for May 1996 in the City of London.  I was a great secretary/executive assistant with Kelly Services’ Fenchurch Street branch, with typing speeds in excess of 90 wpm.  The keyboard was smoking after I finished my typing test.  I scooped the award by turning around a very difficult client who was about to terminate Kelly’s contract and go with someone else.  The job was to type 100 letters per day to insurance claimants, for a travel insurance company. 
  2. My alter ego is Miss Tina Fanning.  She has great legs, a wicked sense of fun, and the perfect flawless makeup.  She has a $5000 wardrobe of hand-beaded dresses, wigs, heels, showgirl headdresses, tiaras and diamanté costume jewellery.  She has her own Facebook profile, email address and instant messaging nicknames.  She has appeared on television and has friends and admirers around the world.
  3. I’ve lived and worked on five continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.  I didn’t really plan it:  it just kinda happened.  I worked a little in South Africa and then headed to London, as many young Commonwealth citizens do.  And from there I went to Sydney, and then a stint in Hong Kong, then Sydney, and then a few years in San Francisco, then back to Sydney. 
  4. I’ve visited 24 countries in my lifetime.  I suppose I should have a favourite but I can’t choose one place over all others.  I liked different places for different reasons.  But I suppose that for a holiday I have historically shown a preference for a place that has clear blue water, heat, humidity, palm trees, cocktails with those little tiny paper umbrellas in them and hammocks.  Fiji, come back to me.
  5. I was born in South Africa but I don’t have the typical South African accent.  Depending on the country that I’m in, people will guess that I come from Australia, New Zealand, Britain or South Africa.  I grew up in the deep dark days of apartheid.  I went to whites-only primary school and high school; I lived in whites-only suburbs.  I remember segregated beaches, parks, park benches, public toilets, buses, trains, liquor stores and cinemas.  When I was a kid it was just the way it was and I didn’t know any better.  I remember, like it was yesterday, the opening of Parliament on Friday 2 February 1990, when the State President, FW de Klerk, announced that the ANC was unbanned and that Nelson Mandela was being released from prison.  I remember, like it was yesterday, the hot dusty Sunday afternoon of 11 February 1990 when Nelson Mandela, after an agonising wait, walked slowly through the gates of Victor Verster Prison, to his freedom.  I remember, like it was yesterday, 27 April 1994, when the first democratic election was held, and we queued in the cold pale autumn morning to cast our votes.  I remember, like it was yesterday, 10 May 1994, when Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first president of a democratic South Africa.  I remember his speech, when he said, “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another,” and I remember my emotion and my tears in that moment.   I am so glad that I was able to have that experience and I wouldn’t replace it for the world.
  6. I have two degrees in, wait for it, Microbiology, Biochemistry and Chemistry.  My bachelor’s degree was a triple major in the three subjects, and my Honours degree was in Microbiology.  For my Honours research project I had to drive to the sewage farm every morning, take a fresh sample of the aerobic pond, race back to the laboratory, liquidise it and analyse the bacterial population.  Just so you know, fresh sewage from the aerobic pond does not smell like pooh — it has more of the aroma of freshly cut grass.  All the oxygen in the aerobic pond leads to a high rate of bacterial metabolism and the byproducts don’t have a bad odour.  But leave it standing for a day or two and then it will totally smell like you expect it to smell. 
  7. I have never owned a car.  This statement always makes Americans recoil in horror, as most cannot contemplate a life without a vehicle.  But I’ve always lived in cities with good public transport so I’ve never felt the urge to own a car.  I do have driver licences from three countries:  South Africa, Australia (New South Wales) and the United States (California).  Just for fun last year I bought a scooter and got my motorcycle licence in New South Wales.
  8. I have never been to hospital as an in-patient (despite the face that my sister-in-law is an Accident & Emergency specialist).  Somehow I have managed to avoid serious injuries to my person and haven’t had any major surgery. 

4 Responses to “Eight things”

  1. Louise Barnfield said

    Justin, what a great list! Knowing you, it doesn’t surprise me in the least that there have been so many interesting experiences in your past. However, I can’t resist a trite response to your impressive typing speed. I reckoned myself to be pretty hot on an electric typewriter in a dim distant past life, but I don’t think I ever reached 90wpm (sounds more like a shorthand speed for many!!). I think you might regret putting this in writing…you risk being first to be volunteered for future note-taking!! 🙂

  2. Ken Klaus said


    I have never been more envious of item seven then I was yesterday, while waiting for a tow truck – twice! You are my hero and inspiration. Perhaps it is time for me to consider a move to Sydney. After all, I’ve only worked on two continents myself, so I have some catching-up to do. Thanks for sharing!


  3. Meg Bear said

    agree Louise, I thought I was a fast typer but I know I’m no where near 90wpm!

  4. […] good tool to keep you in sync (I’ve been using iGoogle’s widget these days) and having someone on your team to remind you when daylight savings gets everyone off for a few weeks, can make or break critical […]

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