Andrew James, ABS


Name: Andrew James
Job title: Divisional director
Company: ABS (office products division)
What were your childhood ambitions? I always wanted to be a professional cyclist and no, the drugs were not the attraction! A collision with a combine harvester eventually blunted my enthusiasm.
What was your first full-time job? Working as a programmer for ABS was my first full-time job, although my colleagues still suggest that
full-time is hardly an accurate description of my contribution.
What was your first vehicle/car? Picture the scene: an 18 year-old lad, pulling up at a sixth form college having just passed the driving test… in a mould-green 1979 Vauxhall Cavalier saloon with a dodgy camshaft that rattled in time with a-ha playing on the radio.
Who was your pin-up as a teenager? The singer from Transvision Vamp. I can’t even remember her name now.
What bad habits do you have? The Strawberry Cornetto. Can’t keep off them.
How do you like to relax? Horizontally.
What is your favourite book, and why? The Times Atlas of the World. There’s so much world out there.
What was the first record you bought? Shakin’ Stevens’ Green Door. Dear oh dear!
If you could invite two famous people for dinner, who would they be, and why would you choose them? George Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of the Islamic Republic of Iran). Maybe they would get on.
What is your favourite food and drink? Guinness.
What is your favourite holiday destination? The west coast of Ireland takes some beating (often by the rain).
What do you begrudge spending money on? Lunchtime sandwiches – why oh why can’t I get up ten minutes earlier and make some?
Have you ever broken the law? Yes, I’ve cycled on the pavement twice.
What makes you happy? Happy people and Guinness.
What makes you angry? Getting older without getting wiser.
If you could be a superhero, what superpower would you choose to have and why? Time travel so that we can go back and have another go with the benefit of hindsight.
What is your best piece of advice? Make your own lunchtime sandwiches and invest the savings in a vast country estate.
If you could be God for the day, what miracle would you perform? I would help the England football team to win a few games.
What has been the best moment in your career? Witnessing our CEO at the time ordering toast and a latte in a greasy spoon café and being given toast and pâté.
What has been the worst moment in your career? Laughing at the indignation caused by the above.
What was your most embarrassing industry-related experience? An altercation at Spicers’ railway crossing with a lorry driver. Can you work out the rules at that junction?
What would you like to be doing in five years’ time? Winning the Tour de France – a tad unrealistic I suppose, but you never know!
What is your IQ? Rounded geometrically to the nearest prime integer, about 23.
If you won the lottery, what would be the first item you would buy? I really must replace that Vauxhall Cavalier…
Which three items would you want if stranded on a desert island? Insect repellent, water and Ray Mears’ phone number.
Have you got a claim to fame? This is it. I’ve been published!
What is your biggest weakness? Pontificating too much and doing too little, probably.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? A summer job picking Fresno chilli peppers. Try rubbing your eyes (or anywhere else for that matter) after a day of doing that.
If you could be any historical figure for a day, who would you be and why? Edmund Hillary. Imagine being the first to reach the highest point on the planet!
Have you ever read a book that changed your life? I’ve had a stiff neck ever since I read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography over a holiday weekend.