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I'm Over You - Barclay James Harvest

Perhaps the best interview I've ever heard of breaks all of the rules. It was told me by the Head of Art at a provincial College, let's call him Martin.

One summer he received a phone call from a young woman asking to be interviewed for the coming year's Art Foundation course. The only problem was that she had already been offered an interview in the selection process that had taken place a month earlier and not turned up, and the course was now full. But Martin listened to her, she said she been going through a tough time, hadn't been well and had just been unable to make the hundred or so miles for the interview but that she was better now and could she have another chance? Feeling pity for her, Martin arranged a new time and date, warning that her getting a place was dependent on people dropping out or possibly taking up courses elsewhere. She was effusive in her thanks, and said she'd definitely be there.

When the day came, Martin and a fellow tutor waited for her for 45 minutes and were just about to call it a day when she arrived, looking smart but slightly bedraggled - it had been raining - apologising profusely for her lateness. Without further ado they commenced the interview, but Martin quickly realised she was in no state to begin, that she needed a few moments to settle down, and so offered her a coffee which she gratefully accepted. While his colleague went to fetch the coffee, Martin decided to tell her a bit about the college and the course to relax her. He was in mid flow, talking gently and - he hoped - encouragingly, when he realised that she had fallen asleep, sitting upright in front of him across the interview desk.

Martin sat there suddenly filled with excitement, the would-be arts student snoozing quietly before him, thinking to himself, "I've just got to teach this one!" He added an extra place to the course, which she attending the following year. His reasoning was that if her life was so much of a mess that she'd turned up weeks late, exhausted and in complete mental disarray, yet she'd still made it to the interview, then that determination not to let everything defeat her, to still try for what she wanted, meant that she was worth giving a chance, and at the very least would be interesting to teach.

And so it proved. She was a good student and is now a successful artist, though she still has her problems, but as he said "she's doing pretty well despite everything."

The point being that, as with everything in life, though the rules of political correctness may be there for fairness, equal opportunities, level playing fields and so on, they should never be an excuse for not thinking, not using your knowledge and intelligence, for not being compassionate or for not seeing what's in front of you.

Here's to the Martins of this world.

I went to three Barclay James Harvest concerts, more than any other band, not because they were the best I ever saw, but because in the early seventies they toured the UK and European college and university circuits more than anyone else, which worked as they are still widely adored in France and Germany where they have had major success over the years. Which just goes to show, persistence pays off.

This is a single from 1972, the first time I saw them. It wasn't a hit but I like it.


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