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Portland Place


6 Reviews

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Autobiography: general, Diaries, letters & journals, Memoirs, Prose: non-fiction

Portland Place is the diary of then-BBC Secretary Sarah Shaw for the year of 1971, a humorous and charming perspective of life at the BBC and for a woman at the time.

Secret Diary of a 1970s Secretary is the diary of Sarah Shaw for the year of 1971, which she recently uncovered whilst clearing out her loft. Working as a secretary for the BBC at the time, Sarah's diary describes the life of a suburban girl who certainly wasn't 'swinging' but who was, ironically, not only working on a cutting edge BBC survey on sex education but also in the throes of an unlikely affair with middle-aged, working-class, Irish lift attendant, Frank.

Sarah talks humorously and frankly about what it was like to be a young, working woman at the time as well as life at the BBC during the 1970s and the difficulties of navigating her first romance. She is funny and self-effacing with a self-knowledge that only few attain. Her innocence and naivety are hugely charming and the diary forms a valuable snapshot of a time not so far away that is now lost to us.

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Praise for Portland Place

  • Evocative . . . vivid and joyous diary - Sunday Telegraph

  • She's a curious, candid chronicler . . . and it's oddly soothing to read about the drabness of everyday life at a moment when the psychedelic Sixties had faded and the flashy Eighties were still a decade away - The Mail on Sunday

  • Entertaining story . . . a constant delight - Belfast Telegraph

  • It's not often I say I love a book but I loved Secret Diary of a BBC Secretary. From the start I was engrossed in a world not that long ago (1971) but often a million miles away. I became involved with the characters and their lives. I worried about them. I cared about them. I couldn't put the book down. Now that's I've finished it I still want to know what happens next. A jewel of a little book. Read it and you'll be glad you did. - Gail Renard, chair of the Writer's Guild

  • I spent a lot of time in the Langham on training courses and when I worked on the Today programme. I knew the place had many mysteries. But Sarah's book reveals a few more, and it is a fascinating glimpse into a time that feels very different to today. - Roger Mosey, formerly Editor of the Today programme on Radio 4, Controller of BBC Five Live, Head of BBC TV news and Director of the London 2012 Olympic Games coverage

  • Sue Townsend meets Lynn Barber; the innocence and wit shine through this account . . . I found it charming! Such genuine innocence / ignorance girls had back then though! So captures that! - Jill Dawson, Sceptre author and Orange Prize short-listee

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