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The Importance of an Up-Do

Big meeting day. One small, one large. I'd built the day up in my mind and had even had my hairdresser wrangle a fancy up-do with grips stabbing into me, after he told me breezily that women were taken way more seriously with our hair off our faces. No pain no gain, right? Smart leather trousers, blazer, a slick of YSL red lippie and I was ready to roll.

It's frightening changing career. I know the broadcasting world pretty much inside out but the wine world, I'm oh so new to. Green, almost, when it comes to the UK market. I'd trained in France - Paris, with the country's most esteemed wine teacher. If I was going to enter a new career, I had resolutely decided, it had to be with the best training.

I had maxed out the credit card for the one year diploma and juggled childcare by the skin of my teeth, especially tricky in a foreign country with a film biz husband away lots. But I made it and graduated so proudly. Little did I know as to the challenge that was to come in my home country, where price is everything and relationships count for less.

In France, the business was based, initially at least, on fine conversation and fine lunches. Any finance discussions were politely swept under the table and saved until a later friendship had been established. It suited me that style. Deals sealed almost accidentally.

At one of my first London tasting events, a well heeled SW London bottle blonde asked me imperiously; "How on earth have you managed to import this champagne yourself? I found the French impossible to deal with!" Without putting the time in, I cannot imagine any French/Anglo union would ever get off the ground. (I guess that's why many don't).

So here I am, looking the part at least for London meets, but scarily knowing I needed to find the number crunching balls from somewhere fast, especially as the Brits have an awkward habit of opening with "What's the price?" before even doing 'le biz' (two French cheek kisses) which - note to self - of course must now translate simply to le handshake.

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