But now it sounds like nothing. I should be earning forty grand, like Elly, and buying all my clothes at Karen Millen. Oh, it’s not fair. My life’s a complete disaster.

As I’m walking back to the office, I feel pretty morose. Maybe I should give up journalism and become a fund manager, too. Or a merchant banker. They earn a pretty good whack, don’t they? Maybe I could join Goldman Sachs or somewhere. They earn about a million a year, don’t they? God, that would be good. I wonder how you get a job like that.

But on the other hand. . do I really want to be a banker? I wouldn’t mind the clothes-from-Karen-Millen part of it. In fact, I think I’d do that really well. But I’m not so sure about the rest. The getting-up-early-and-working-hideously-hard part. Not that I’m lazy or anything — but I quite like the fact that I can go and spend the afternoon at Image Store, or flick through the papers pretending to be doing research, and no one gives me a hard time. It doesn’t sound as if Elly will be doing much of that in her new job. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be anything remotely fun or creative about it. And aren’t bankers rather humorless? Their press conferences certainly are — so imagine working with them. It all sounds quite scary.

Hmm. If only there were some way that I could get all the nice clothes — but not have to do the dreary work. One but not the other. If only there were a way. . My eyes are automatically flicking into all the shop windows as I pass, checking out the displays — and suddenly I stop in my tracks.

This is a sign from God. It has to be.

I’m standing outside Ally Smith — which has some gorgeous full-length coats in the window — and there’s a handwritten sign in the glass pane of the door. “Wanted. Saturday sales assistants. Inquire within.”

I almost feel faint as I stare at the sign. It’s as though lightning has struck, or something. Why on earth haven’t I thought of this before? It’s pure genius. I’ll get a Saturday job! I’ll work in a clothes shop! That way, I’ll make loads of extra money and I’ll get a discount on all the clothes! And let’s face it, working in a shop has got to be more fun than becoming a fund manager, hasn’t it? I can choose all my own clothes as I help the customers. I’ll actually be getting paid to go shopping!

This is bloody fantastic, I think, striding into the shop with a friendly smile on my face. I knew something good was going to happen today. I just had a feeling about it.

Half an hour later, I come out with an even bigger smile on my face. I’ve got a job! I’ve got a Saturday job! I’m going to work from eight-thirty to five-thirty every Saturday, and get £4.80 an hour, and 10 percent off all the clothes! And after three months, it goes up to 20 percent! All my money troubles are over.

Thank God it was a quiet afternoon. They let me fill in the application form on the spot, and Danielle, the manager, gave me an interview straight away. At first, she looked a bit dubious — especially when I said I had a full-time job as a financial journalist and was doing this to get extra money and clothes. “It’ll be hard work,” she kept saying. “You do realize that? It’ll be very hard work.” But I think what changed her mind was when we started talking about the stock. I love Ally Smith — so of course I knew the price of every single item in the shop and whether they have anything similar in Jigsaw or French Connection. Eventually Danielle gave me a funny look and said, “Well, you obviously like clothes.” And then she gave me the job! I can’t wait. I start this Saturday. Isn’t it great?

As I arrive back at the office I feel exhilarated with my success. I look around — and suddenly this mundane office life seems far too boring and limited for a creative spirit like mine. I don’t belong here, among fusty piles of press releases and grimly tapping computers. I belong out there, among the bright spotlights and cashmere cardigans of Ally Smith. Maybe I’ll go into retail full time, I think, as I sit back down at my desk. Maybe I’ll start my own chain of designer stores! I’ll be one of those people featured in articles about incredibly successful entrepreneurs. “Becky Bloomwood was working as a financial journalist when she devised the innovative concept of Bloomwood Stores. Now a successful chain around the country, the idea came to her one day as she. .”

The phone rings and I pick it up.

“Yes?” I say absently. “Rebecca Bloomwood here.” I nearly add, “of Bloomwood Stores,” but maybe that’s a tad premature.

“Ms. Bloomwood, this is Derek Smeath from Endwich Bank.”

What? I’m so shocked, I drop the phone onto my desk with a clatter and have to scrabble around to pick it up. All the while, my heart’s thumping like a rabbit. How does Derek Smeath know where I work? How did he get my number?

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