Lucy Kellaway

British journalist

Lucy Kellaway OBE (born 26 June 1959) is a British journalist who retrained as a teacher in her fifties. She worked at the Financial Times from 1985 contributing columns on management issues and other topics. She became a trainee teacher in a secondary school in 2017.

Lucy Kellaway in 2016


  • [Q:] What is the best thing about your job?
    [A:] Chatting. And the fact that I can write about whatever I like.
    [Q:] And the worst?
    [A:] Chatting. (I'm always behind with my work) And the fact that I can write about whatever I like - which is terrible when the cupboard is bare of ideas.
  • London is where powerful people are, on the whole. The best-paid jobs are here, the best-paid egos. London is the capital of power and egos — therefore it's the capital of office affairs as well.
  • People in professional jobs work for three reasons: money, status and the interest of the work itself. The main reason those in their fifties become sluggish is not that their minds are going, nor that the work itself has become too monotonous. It is that neither money nor status move them as they used to and the interest of the job is not enough to keep them going on its own.
  • With jobs, as with parties, it is best to leave when you are still having a good time.
  • [T]he biggest thing, which readers may find hard to swallow given my entire career has been based on ridiculing others, is that, for my next act, I want to be useful. Yes, I know sticking pins in pompous chief executives is useful in a meta kind of way but that's not the kind of useful I have in mind.
  • [J]acking in journalism to become a teacher so late in life wasn’t brave – it was desperate. Though I didn’t admit it at the time, I was entirely burnt out – I had been at the same place for an interminably unimaginative 32 years – and was showing the classic symptoms. I was cynical about the value of what I did and of journalism as a whole – what was all this crazy chasing of ephemera really for? I also felt the columns I was writing were rubbish. The very thought of writing another one was making me feel so sick I had to find a way out and do something else entirely.
  • Our blindness to ageism is particularly puzzling as it is a prejudice not against people who are different from us (other races, genders etc) but against our future selves.
  • As I write, I'm interrupted by a dull thud. My partner has discovered medieval ceiling beams in the bathroom above a more recent suspended ceiling. Oops, another section of plaster must have come crashing down — but the sound is muffled as the walls are so thick. Indeed, my sister's housewarming gift of a school playground bell to summon people to dinner has been almost entirely useless — in this house you can't hear a thing.
  • In my current school the teachers seem happy and have no plans to quit. Many have taught there for 20 or 30 years and educated the parents of the current students. Indeed, teacher turnover is so low that I very nearly didn't get a job. When I started looking last spring, there were 120 vacancies for business studies and economics teachers in London; in the whole of the North East there were only three.
    In the highest-achieving London academies a quarter of the staff quit every year — not just because they can't afford flats but because they are wrung out by the scale of the work. This is the trade-off: this sort of system gets the best possible GCSE results, but the teachers, and sometimes the students, get burnt out achieving it.
  • On returning, she got off the 214 bus outside our house, and spotted a familiar pram being pushed up the front steps. The person propelling it was a stranger — a sinister woman, tall with pointy glasses and a gash of lipstick. It would be nice to say that my earliest memory was looking up from my pram and seeing a prototype of Edna Everage.
    Instead, I comfort myself with the idea that I may have been the only person in history to be so unmoved by the sight of the housewife superstar — who went on to convulse the world and once rendered the then Prince Charles and Camilla helpless with mirth by simply turning up in their box at the London Palladium — that I slept through the whole thing.

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