Rose Tyler was nervous – it wasn't like she hadn't been for a job interview before, she had been to plenty that the agency had sent her for and she should be well rehearsed by now but why did they always send her to the out of the way places and the obscure jobs? Last time it was at a bookstore where she was expected to carry book volumes that weighed more than she and her mother put together for posh students and the one before that gave her a typing test and she couldn't type 100 words a minute though her friend Donna could, she was always bragging she was the best temp in Chiswick and was always trying to fix Rose up with her hapless cousin James.
Her mother noticed her sat on the sofa, watching the time, dressed in her interview outfit of a black skirt, white blouse and a black jacket that had cost her almost a week's wage, not that she ever got a full week in for one reason or another, sometimes she got to do two jobs in a week, if she was lucky.
"Calm down Rose, you have half an hour before you set off for that interview," her mother told her as Rose was making her nervous.
"Yeah but I don't want to be late, I want to set a good impression. I hope I get this one, the pay's good and it's got an option to live in."
"I don't know why you want to leave home sweetheart?" Jackie asked her.
"Mum, I'm twenty seven, you were married, with me at my age and since Howard's taken to staying over, you don't need me around."
"I'd lost your father, remember? I keep tellin' Howard not to disturb you when he goes looking for a late night snack. He's really good to me, he gives me extra money and I can use it to get a new hairdryer."
Rose smiled every time her mother switched it on and used to tell her it took half the power of Battersea power station to operate, not to mention the racket it made, not that her customers could hear it with cotton wool stuffed around their ears.
Jackie Tyler was a hair stylist who worked mostly from her new flat on The Powell Estate in Peckham. She had been one of the lucky ones to move out from the rows of terraced houses that had escaped the bombs during the war but the council had decided since half of the district was a mess and kids were forever causing headaches for the police, they would knock everything down and rebuild only instead of houses, they built flats. Jackie had refused a high-rise one saying she was terrified of heights and even convinced her local doctor's surgery to write a letter saying so. Instead, she had got a third floor flat in a small block for herself and Rose.
That had been two years ago, 1964 and now it was 1966 and her sometimes boyfriend Howard had been practically living there watching the world cup on their new TV along with most of their floor but thankfully, that had ended in triumph and no-one on the estate had got any sleep that night with everyone celebrating.
Now Rose was counting the minutes until she had to set off, praying she would get this job and start a fresh life, since her boyfriend, well sort of boyfriend, Mickey Smith had got mixed up with that loser Jimmy Stone, who thought he was a guitarist but Rose could have told him to save his energy. The pair of them had been locked up for eighteen months for robbing the local betting shop but were about to be released for good behaviour, so his gran had told her mother.
Rose had never been to visit him in over six months, he was never going to change, not if he still hung around with Jimmy, she'd given him up as a lost cause though where she had gone wrong with him, she had no idea. Her mother was reading the morning paper.
"They're still going on about the football, wish they'd give it a rest. So, what's this great job you're after?"
Rose didn't know much about it, she had been given a card to take with her, to be given to a Doctor JD Smith, some sort of psychiatrist with fancy letters after his name and had assumed he was some old stuffy bloke who smoked twenty a day and coughed most of it back. She'd seen it every time she had visited her local surgery, a 'No Smoking' sign in the waiting room and smoke coming out of the doctor's office every time the door was opened.
"They didn't tell me much, just a private clinic that had about a dozen or so residents and this bloke's wanting a personal assistant to keep things organized. I expect it will be making sure he gets to meetings and stuff, there's no typing, thankfully, the last job they wanted 100 words a minute and I felt like telling them there was only one person I knew of who was capable of that."
"Yeah, how is Donna anyway?" she was asked. "I've not seen her around for a while."
"Got some new bloke probably and I swear if she dupes me into another party where her cousin tries to chat me up, I'll scream."
"James isn't that bad, Sylvia said he had a tough time losing both his parents when he was away at boarding school and that stray bomb exploded."
"Yeah, I know Mum but he's just not my type, he's so clever and with all those qualifications behind him, I'd feel a bit left out of things. Right, a visit to the loo then I'm setting off for that bus since it's always early. Wish me luck."
"Yeah, good luck sweetheart, I hope you get it, I know it's doing you no good only keeping a job for a few days but you wanted to go temping like Donna."
"Yeah, I should have known really and anyway, I think this one is more permanent, they never said it was only for two weeks or so."
Her mother laughed. "Yeah, I can see you lasting two weeks." She saw Rose's face. "Sorry but you have to admit it Rose, you're just not cut out for a job that lasts longer."
"Yeah, maybe you're right, if I don't get this, maybe I'm never gonna get anything."
Jackie watched her daughter get ready to leave, Rose had tried her best and had not found it as easy as Donna to get on in the world and how those two had become friends was beyond her, they were completely opposite ends of the scale but she herself got on well with Donna's mother. As Rose sat on the bus, counting the stops until she had to change, she wondered what this JD Smith was like, if he was all stuck up and expected a lot of her but as long as he kept his hands and his remarks to himself, they would get on just fine.
At the East London clinic of JD Smith, whom his friends called Johnnie, he had just finished writing notes from a session with one of his patients whom he thought was making a little progress, if he could get her away from the teddy bear she carried everywhere. He was preparing a list of expectations from his new personal assistant the staffing agency had promised to send him when his last one he had to fire was forever criticizing his controversial methods of treatment, in front of his friends at the one party he'd taken her to as if he didn't already have enough of that from the medical profession in general.
He looked at his notes he'd scribbled down from the agency, they were sending someone called Rose Tyler, who according to the woman on the phone who had spoken very highly of her, she'd had vast experience which probably meant she had flitted from job to job but he'd been assured she was very well organized. He'd phoned the day before and stipulated he wanted someone with no opinions about the medical profession and who would be prepared to live in since his engagements included late night parties and evening radio interviews and he didn't want any excuses whoever he took on had to get home.
He supposed he could give her a try, she was twenty seven and single but he wasn't looking to replace Simone, who had gone back to France without a word and he'd received a goodbye letter from her – in French. He'd been about to ask her to marry him, she had taught him a lot and he was grateful for that and now he didn't think he could find anyone to replace her, even six months down the line.
He looked at his silver cigarette case, he'd not touched one since she'd left because it reminded him of her, she had bought the case two years ago last Christmas but he still kept it on his desk, he couldn't bear to part with it. He looked at the large wooden clock on the wall. Time for a cup of tea before he had to face Miss Tyler, who no doubt would have lots of questions, which he wouldn't mind answering just so long as she had no opinion about how he treated his patients.
Rose had changed buses and had asked the conductor to shout her when she got to the clinic, which she had been told was right on the bus route and a few yards from the stop. She heard him yell what the next stop was and getting up, made her way to the back, at least she'd not had to get the underground to the place, she hated it. It reminded her of when she was little and her granddad used to take her into central London once a month as a treat just after the war had ended and then they had all gone for the coronation.
She smiled to herself at that thought, the tales they had heard when they got home from neighbours who had watched the events on what was then known as the new tele box and how weird they had felt, like they had been glued to the set.
She thanked the conductor and looked around then saw a large building set back, surrounded by a green fence and the black gates, which were open. A shiny green sports car was parked just to the side and she bet her measly wage it was his. Then she saw a gold sign for the clinic and JD Smith's name in bold lettering. She walked up the path and found the outer black door open, another glass panelled door just inside and a bell at the side of it.
She rang and waited for a few moments before she could hear excited voices beyond and a woman's voice telling them to hush while she saw who it was. The door opened and Rose saw a large woman in a blue nurse's uniform standing there.
"Well, what do you want then? We don't buy from anyone who comes to the door."
Rose wondered if she really looked like she was there to sell anything, given her business attire but these days, women were salesladies, insurance brokers and all other kinds of marketing so no wonder the nurse had mistaken her as such. She had a small purse on her shoulder and unzipping it, brought out the folded card and showed her it.
"Hello, I have an appointment with Doctor Smith at eleven, the agency sent me," Rose replied, trying not to sound nervous, which she already was.
"Oh, not another one?" the nurse asked. "You'd better come in while I check he's in his office. What's your name dearie?"
"Rose Tyler Ma'am. Is he in?" she asked, in case the fancy car wasn't his.
The nurse laughed, it wasn't evening, he only went out in the evenings to some party or another and got back in the small hours of the next morning, usually with a woman on his arm who left two hours later, followed by him shouting for her to come back.
"He's been with a patient, you do know what this place is?" the nurse replied.
Rose had been told the basics, it was a clinic for those people who could not face society in general and she'd not dared to inquire further. She nodded politely as the nurse let her in and stood looking around.
"I'm Nurse Jenkins, head of the clinical staff, well what there are of it. I'll take you to his office then, don't mind the patients and don't let any of them tell you they are him, you'll get used to them."
She pointed to an older man with grey hair who was looking at her and hoping that wasn't him but he was wearing old leather slippers so she could safely rule him out.
"Oh," the nurse added. "No smoking allowed except in the communal areas, we almost had a fire in one of the bedrooms so everyone had their cigarettes locked up in the office, excluding staff, who are expected to obey Doctor Smith's rules."
"I don't smoke Ma'am."
"Don't call me that, I'm not a sister, she left a month ago, she quit because she had a thing for the doctor and she didn't take rejection well. Mind you, it's hardly surprising, she practically threw herself at him when he'd made it clear he didn't go for her kind."
"What kind was that?" Rose dared to ask.
"I'll leave that for your imagination, it's 1966 and creed shouldn't matter but some people don't know their place, you can't really blame him, he has a reputation to uphold and I told him he was taking a big risk employing her. I wouldn't mind but she assured him it wouldn't be a problem as she only went with her own kind but maybe you will see her dilemma when you meet him, he's got that boyish charm about him so don't say I didn't warn you. I hope you have a boyfriend?"
"What? Oh yeah, he's working away though at the moment, can't wait until he gets back from Southend. He's a mechanic and he spends three months working the drag racing circuit."
What harm would it do? Rose thought as she followed the nurse. She couldn't say he was locked up, well he'd be released soon anyway but he'd no chance she was going back to him.
"I'm sure Doctor Smith will be pleased to hear that, should he bother to ask you. Here we are then, I'll let him know you're here, take a seat dear."
They had arrived at a large wooden door at the end of a corridor and the nurse tapped on it and went inside, leaving Rose to sit on the solitary wooden chair, awaiting her fate. It reminded her of sitting outside the headmaster's office, getting into trouble for telling the other kids she thought all the teachers turned into bats at night and hung from the rafters. It had been a genuine fear, she was convinced the teachers slept in the school and Mickey had only encouraged her.
The nurse had knocked on the door and entered.
"Doctor Smith, there's someone called Rose Tyler waiting to see you," the nurse told him as she closed the door, keeping one hand on the handle.
"Thanks Celia, just give me a moment."
She saw him putting the silver cigarette case on the desk.
"You're not thinking of starting again are you Doctor?"
"What?" he asked in his Scottish accent. "No, not at all, it just reminds me of her, sorry. Send Miss Tyler in, what is she like?"
The nurse smiled. "Young and blonde Doctor Smith and definitely English, you shouldn't have any problems with her."
"Good, fine, we shall see if she decides to stay. Has she mentioned she has a boyfriend?"
"That's none of my business Sir, that's your department to ask such questions."
"Maybe. I hope she is not like Martha?" he smiled.
"No Sir, neither do I. I'll let her in then though you could have warned me of her arrival, I thought she was trying to sell something despite the notice on the gate."
Johnnie smiled to himself, he'd definitely had enough of the Martha Jones's of the world, he didn't need another one. He had given her fair warning she was not his type, without getting personal but she just didn't get the message so he'd had no choice. He'd had to let her down gently by saying he was reducing staff and hoped she wouldn't find out he was employing yet another assistant but that was completely different from the nursing staff.
He also hoped she wouldn't complain elsewhere because of her origins, it had nothing to do with that – he just wasn't in the market for a new pushy girlfriend since he wasn't really over Simone and taking Martha to parties just wasn't an option, not with his circle of friends. The nurse opened the door and called for Rose.
"You can go in now Miss Tyler."
Rose stood up, brushed down her skirt, which she thought was a bit on the long side for her liking but this was business and not the time to be wearing a mini skirt, her favourite being a red plaid one with a large pin in the side that Donna had told her looked 'tacky' but she couldn't afford to go shopping at the store her friend frequented.
The nurse closed the door behind her, Rose looking back then hearing a Scottish accent calling her name. Rose snapped out of it and turned and almost fainted on the spot. Sat behind a large desk littered with papers was the most gorgeous man Rose had ever seen in her life, his fairly long hair swept back, brown eyes and he was wearing a brown suede jacket with patches on the arms and a cream paisley shirt. She found she wasn't rooted to the spot so she walked over to the chair opposite him.
"Miss Tyler I presume?" he asked in a Scottish accent Rose thought made him sound sexy.
"Yes Sir, Rose Tyler. Thank you for seeing me."
She handed the introductory card over to him, noting his fingers were long and slender. He smiled as he took it and reached for his half-framed glasses, putting them on. He only wore them when he felt like it, to make himself look impressive.
"So, I've been told good things about you, may I call you Rose?" he asked, indicating for her to sit down.
"Just Doctor, no need to call me Sir. Have you done this kind of work before, as a personal assistant?"
"Not exactly but my mum says I'm good at organizing things, so I applied."
Johnnie put the card down and looked at his notes. "The agency says good things about you, are they accurate?"
She had no idea what the woman in the agency had told him about her, she'd been handed the card and had left without hearing the conversation. He was looking at the cigarette case, thinking now he should maybe not have quit. It was empty though, he'd handed the remaining contents out at the last party he went to and now, next Thursday, he had to come up with the excuse why he didn't have any. Simone had depended on him for hers when they had gone out for the evening, now he had no reason to want to carry any.
Rose thought he wasn't going to heed the no smoking policy but he didn't pick it up.
"I've had a lot of experience."
"Good but how are you at organizing other people? I go to a lot of parties, which I will expect you to attend, I get asked to give radio interviews and in two weeks time, I have to go give a lecture over in New York. Do you have a passport?"
"Yes Sir, I mean Doctor, I have one. Will I be expected to go with you?"
"Well yes, I have an itinerary to keep to though all the arrangements have been done, just the final details. Do you type?"
"Yes, I can type accurately, I don't speed type though."
Johnnie smiled, taking his glasses off and rubbing his eyes.
"Tell me honestly Rose, why do you want this particular job? It seems to me you could have your choice. You know what sort of work I do here? Have you any opinion about it?"
"I don't know enough about it but if it helps people? I like helping people, especially those who aren't as fortunate as me. My mum had a rough time bringing me up on her own but she got herself trained to be a hairdresser and she has her own business now. I went to business college when I left school, got my qualifications."
"I'm sure you did," Johnnie smiled. "Some people criticize my work, I expect my staff to be loyal to me or have no formed opinion."
"Well, I don't know enough about it to have an opinion and if I did, it's none of my business."
"Right, I am happy to hear that Rose. So, let us discuss your salary, which will include room and board plus you get to meet some very influential people in the medical profession."
"Would you want me to go to parties with you? What about your girlfriend?" Rose asked, not wanting to put her foot in it and have someone scratch her eyes out.
"Ah, I don't have one at the moment, that's rather a personal question Rose," he smiled again. "Would your boyfriend object?"
Rose could feel herself blushing, she should say yes, to keep him at bay but she'd already given Mickey the push.
"Not any more, he's sort of working away."
Johnnie raised his eyebrows, now who was being personal? He had to know if she was liable to make a move on him, he wasn't ready to move on yet but Rose was easy on the eyes, would probably look good in a short dress and at parties, she would pass as being with him to keep Monica away from him. She was worse than Martha had been in dropping hints but he'd never taken her up on the offer to drive her home.
He was willing to give Rose a chance though, he had an idea she didn't stay in one place for very long, given her 'experience'. He scribbled some figures down on a piece of paper, did the deductions for tax and other contributions then her room and board then handed her the final sum.
"That's it?" she asked, looking at the circle around the bottom figure.
"Well, that is what you take away at the end of the week, after your deductions. What are you normally paid?"
She was about to say not nearly as much, even if she made it through the entire week, which was extremely rare, plus the agency took their fee.
"Oh, I didn't mean it like that, I wasn't expecting it to be that much."
"Well you are paid for unsociable hours."
"I get paid to go to parties with you?"
"You don't know what that involves, people will probably assume you are my girlfriend and treat you as such, so I am paying you enough to buy a few nice dresses and you will get to see New York."
"You're offering me the job then?"
"Don't look so surprised Rose, I think you have all the right attributes to fill the role," he grinned.