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Jack Swaab interview: Career development

How did your career develop after you moved to Wimbledon? You mentioned that you worked for another agency.

I was headhunted by an agency called Colman, Prentice & Varley or CPV and the part I got into was CPVI - CPV International. I went there as general manager and then in due course was rather successful so then they made me joint managing director and I was also a director of the main agency. Then unfortunately I had some unscrupulous clients who went bust and I had to carry the can for that - I had to resign.

I went to another agency - I shouldn't really have gone there. I didn't like the place and I wasn't keen on the people but I was also worried about not earning any money. I had quite a good salary and a car but that [agency] was American owned and after a few months they simply closed it down overnight. We were all kicked out. I was on the dole which wasn't very pleasant.

Then I was offered a job by one of my previous clients - British American Tobacco. I went to them and I stayed there until I retired the first time. I say the first time because I'm trying to remember if there was an age thing. It was in 1979 so that would have made me 61. We had to retire then. But I hadn't got enough to live on and so I went and worked in a bookshop for the next eight years, I suppose. I really loved that. I worked in a bookshop in Esher. I more or less ran it most of the time when the boss was away. He sold that shop and I thought I was going to move to his other shop but he didn't have a job for me there.

So the people who took over the bookshop...there was a young man who ran a horse and greyhound tipping agency and he took me on because my lifelong hobby had been backing horses and I was quite good at it. I worked there, writing a weekly column, tipping and doing a bit of broadcasting on a private line until that folded up because he got over ambitious. So I was out again. But by then I was really quite old and even had enough to live on. So that was when my working life stopped. By then I think I was 75 or 76 so when I hear people now grumbling about retiring at 66, they haven't been born yet.