This is an excerpt from my diary just weeks after I married the Englishman and moved to the UK.
26 June 1984
Financial Advisers, or brokers, what are they? Bold people with hearts of solid gold, dollar signs in their eyes and veins running with icy water. And there they were giving a lecture on ethics. I could earn a lot of money, I know, and I guess I’d be helping people (to part with their money!), but I sat there trying to stop myself from screaming out, ‘Wait a minute – isn’t this cheating?’ I wanted to stand up and say, ‘I think you’re a bunch of bastards, how can you live with yourselves?’ And walk out.
But I didn’t. I stayed in that office with the other people desperate for jobs, all of us in suits, trying to look professional, eager and ambitious. Everyone being so ‘positive’. I too sat there smiling sweetly, ignoring the lecherous looks the man at the front with greased-back hair was giving me.
The Englishman says I could do it, if I told myself I could. Which of course is true. I don’t suppose he believes I could get anything better, a job where I might make difference, a worthwhile job. Is he afraid I won’t get a job at all? If I were to put that question to him, he’d be furious, I can hear him now, ‘You are imagining things. It’s you who’s not got any belief in yourself. You are the best, of course you’ll get a job!’ But his actual behaviour speaks a different language.
Last Sunday I really got my eyes opened. We went to Jackie’s lunch party up in London. She knows the Englishman through a Navy friend. It was a very sunny and warm day, and I wore my new sky blue silk skirt and a matching strappy vest. The Englishman had persuaded me I didn’t need to wear a bra as it would’ve shown underneath. He kissed me as we were getting into the Ford Fiesta and told me I looked gorgeous.
At the end of the party when we’d all had a several glasses of Pimms, Jackie came over and started chatting with me. I’d been standing by a bay window admiring the courtyard below. Her flat was on the second floor and overlooked a cobbled yard where pretty flowers were growing in pots and out of hanging baskets.
Jackie asked me what I did and I said I was looking for a job. I told her about my degree from Finland and she said, ‘Can you use your qualifications here in the UK? I didn’t think you could.’ That I couldn’t put my degree down on my CV hadn’t occurred to me before. Hadn’t crossed my mind. I couldn’t say anything and looked down at the floor, my mind whirling with questions. Someone called for Jackie across the room and I was left alone again.
On the way home in the car, when the Englishman drove along the A3, I didn’t have time to look at the scenery. I felt as if I’d been cheated. To work so hard for a degree and then not get anything for it. Or not even that, I felt cheated that I hadn’t known about this. Or that it hadn’t even occurred to me that my degree would not be recognised here.
I’m in bed now, writing this. I can hear the Englishman coming up the stairs. Shall I ask him about this and so start another hot discussion, or a row, followed by a hot silence?
The story of how I met my Englishman will be published on Kindle very soon.