isabel cortan

isabel cortan Profile


isabel cortan

Location: United Kingdom

Gender: F

Member Since: February 2015

Last online: February 2015

Profile Information

Born Bristol UK 1933;  educated Redland High School Bristol and Malvern Girls College, Worcs which was science and maths based and I was interested only in the arts. Ludicrous choice but my mother wanted me to be a doctor and I feel queasy at the sight of blood.. Head mistress told my mother not to bother with further education, just let me get married which was red rag to a bull as Mum had been a suffragette tying herself to railings and things. She sent me to the London College of Secretaries, took Journalism instead of Book Keeping (no head for figures)!  Graduated top of class.   One year secretary at Bristol University, got the sack, one great year as au pair in Le Mans France, lalrned French, developed pleurisy so came home.  Recovered. Applied to 3 Bristol newspapers for reporting jobs. First said come back when you have experience; second didn't reply at all; third said no vacancies but come and have a chat if you like.  I did. Talked my way into job as first girl reporter and feature writer spent, stayed four years, the staff included my life long friend Tom Stoppard, the late Brian Baron, Sir John Tidmarsh, Peter Patterson (ex D.Mail and many talented others. Left to get married, broke off engagement as I found out he was a con man and joined second paper (as above) as reporter.  Became romantically attached to Peter O'Toole and we shared a flat with a girl who took over my feature writer job.. Followed O'Toole to London, joined Housewife (now Good Housekeeping) as sub editor and feature writer; parted from O'Toole (with advent of Sian Phillips who married him) and hitch hiked to Perugia for 3 months to learn Italian at the Universita per Stranieri (Univ. for Foreign Students).  Taught a little English, fell in and out of love a bit, applied to Berlitz School in Palermo to teach English, no vacancy there but one in Cagliari, Sardinia, so stayed there for one year teaching, interpreting, translating for groups touring the island. Gt year but pay minimal, returned to London and joined Daily Express as feature writer.   Huge pressure so went to Spain (Malaga and Torremolinos, small fishing village then, for 2 months, took a ship back to Italy, worked in jewell'ers shop on Ponte Vecchio for one morning (not allowed to sit so wasn't going to get varicose veins that way) and rang the MD of Horizon Holidays whom I met at a party;  he said there was a vacancy in Milano Marittima on Adriatic Coast, courier there had walked out too much stress. I spent six months there sorting things out. Returned to London and joined George Newnes Publishers doing research for magazines; we brought out Nova first mag for the thinkilng woman!  Applied to Foreign Offiice advert and gave 3 refs.  Forgot about it, received notification about interview.. Two languages required, I had French and Italian so they posted me to Belgrade in the then Yugoslavia for a year, workilng in the Visa Section.  Before leaving Toim Stoppard and I went to France, Italy and Greece for 10 weeks' holiday stopping in Cagiari to collect my trunk which I had left there hoping to return. In Belgrade met my future busband who also worked in the Britisih Embassy. We had problems with the Udba (secret police) as we were not really supposed to get involved.   Was then posted to Milan for 3 months while HE did National Service for two years. Visas for UK in Italy ended so my boss took me to Brussels (I didn't want to go but he said "devil you know is better than the devil you don't know".  9 months there and I'd had enough so resigned. Was then asked to go to The Hague to help out for a month before resigning. Went, loved it. The FO then said would I withdraw resignation if they sent me there permanently. I said yes. Had a delicious flat overlooking a canal in the centre of the town.    After two years I asked if I could be promoted to diplomat status as I had been doing much of my various bosses' work but had no univ. degree so that was out but they offered me a job in Intelligence instead!  I declined, not wanting all that agro and now reunited with my Serb boyfriend after long gap, we decided to marry and live in Holland. However, I was then offered posting to Moscow which I really wanted but the boyfriend said if I went it ws off. Fate intervened.  Went home for a week's holiday and discovered my Mum had cancer so resigned (all this strangely had been forecast by fortune teller) The boyfriend decided to join me in UK;  and found a really good job within two weeks. I worked on paper no. 1 (as above) for five years as P.A. to the M.D. until we had enough money to have a baby and buy a house.  After my mother's death my father had a stroke so lived with us for two years and while pregnant I wrote my second novel which won an award for writing in progress from South West Arts. The third was highly recommended.   After my two sons arrived it was chaos but I joined a Bristol Poetry Society for inspiration and won various prizes in competitions and published two small booklets and had two stories read on Radio Bristol.  Went back to work locally as P.A. to MD of signmaking company.   My husband got itchy feet and a yearn for his roots so returned to Belgrade and I moved to Bristol.  My elder son married a Spanish girl and they live near Marbella and have two sons; he owns and runs his own Academy of English and also teaches in a Catholic Boys' College and has written a book..  My younger son teaches English in the Far East and Saudi Arabia.  That's about it!  I'm still workilng four days a week helping blind ladies with their paperwork etc etc and still writing and thriving on the many joys of life. I'm involved with helping out at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Royal and sitting on committees.   Life does't end when on'e 80 which alas I am.

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