Title: Career Guidance
Fandom: Yes, Minister
Rating: U
Originally posted: 30 January 2004
Summary: One might consider it the beginning of a promising career.
Disclaimer: All original works are copyright of their respective owners; I lay claim only to this particular story.
Notes: I wrote this story as the first part of a planned three-part set, one for each of the three main characters. The other two are still somewhere in the fanfiction aether of my mind. (Any Wykehamists reading this will forgive, I hope, the lack of College-specific slang in this story.)

Career Guidance

Winchester College - 1964

Giving a talk on careers to a gaggle of grubby-faced, adenoidal schoolboys was not my idea of a pleasant way to spend the hour after lunch. It was hardly likely that even one of them had truly heard what I was saying –- they seemed more interested in the dust motes swirling in the patches of late April sunlight that was streaming in through the windows. When the bell rang both they and I were glad to make an end of it. Before I could open the clasps on my briefcase to put away my notes, they were pouring out the door.

'Excuse me, sir, but could I ask you something?'

I glanced up from the papers in my hand. One of the boys had stayed behind, a scrawny, rather mousy-looking lad –- a second- or third-former, I supposed –- with a slightly crooked tie. He was gazing at me with a strange sort of earnestness that was rather disconcerting.

'Yes, what is it?' My train to Waterloo would be leaving in forty-five minutes, and although the College was only ten minutes from the station I didn't really have the time or the inclination to stand around and chat with a wet-nosed pupil.

The boy fixed me with that stare of his for a moment, and then said:

'You said that a career in the Civil Service allows you to have your finger on the pulse of government and a hand in shaping the future of this nation, but were you talking about the same hand doing both things at the same time? Because unless you had one hand doing one thing and the other hand doing the other, I don't see how –- '

'Hey, Wool-for-Brains!' Another boy, older, with a flattened nose and a shock of reddish hair, had poked his head round the open door and was scowling at both of us. 'If you're late to Maths one more time you'll be kept in at games for a week!'

If I had not looked over at the younger boy just then, I would have missed the calculating glint in his eye that was gone as suddenly as it had come.

'Heaven forbid,' he murmured, and there was a wry wistfulness in his tone that was almost undetectable. 'I'm coming,' he said, more loudly. 'I was only asking the gentleman a question.'

For my part, I fixed the older boy with a hard look until he grunted an apology and left us alone.

I turned back to the boy in front of me. I must admit, he had piqued my curiosity. 'What's your name, lad?'

'Woolley, sir.'

The name didn't sound familiar; there hadn't been a Woolley in my time, but in these days that didn't seem to matter as much. 'And your Christian name, Woolley?'

The boy blinked, calmly. 'Bernard, sir.' He seemed to hesitate, as if he was about to say something more, but he shook his head slightly. 'May I go now, please sir, because I don't want to be late for Maths.'

I half-nodded, waved one hand dismissively, and watched the boy as he headed out the door at a jog-trot that was certain to get him to Maths just short of being on time.

Prudence, caution, shrewdness. The boy had the makings of a sound young man...and quite possibly, a good civil servant.

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