Portland Place 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.
Sarah Shaw was born next-door to a bombsite in Purley, Surrey, and brought up amid books and newspapers. Early writing included a series of novels in which she and her friends enjoyed exciting and romantic adventures with the Beatles. These were circulated in exercise books and read under the desks during Latin lessons. Sarah's first job was at the BBC in the School Broadcasting Council, after which she went on to work with John Parry on radio programmes for secondary schools. Later, she returned to the BBC's Television Plays department, working with Louis Marks on productions such as the BAFTA-winning The Lost Boys. In the 1980s she moved into academic librarianship, retiring in 2014, having spent the previous twelve years as Librarian at Selwyn College, Cambridge.