A small advertisement in the Guardian newspaper caught Joanne’s eye: ‘Qualified English teachers required for a school in Porto’. Joanne had little relevant experience for a teaching job other than her year in Paris but Porto sounded just the sort of place where Jessica Mitford would have ended up. So she sent off her CV, a covering letter explaining her enthusiasm for teaching in Portugal and a contact phone number. The advertisement had been placed by Steve Cassidy, principal of the Encounter English Schools in Porto. The turnover of staff teaching English abroad was quite high, so every year he would seek to employ three or four new teachers, sifted from forty or so replies.
On a trip to England to visit his family in Darlington he would contact half a dozen applicants and arrange to see them. He met Joanne at a hotel close to the railway station in Leeds. ‘We had coffee and chatted,’ he recalls. ‘She was a bit gothic-looking with very dark eye-shadow. She looked like Morticia from the Addams family. She wasn’t an outstanding candidate but I thought she would be OK. She was a bit shy and I remember she looked a bit sad at the station. I think her mother had recently died.’
Joanne got the job. She was thrilled to be starting her own new adventure. Her father had begun to rebuild his life and moved from Church Cottage, Tutshill, into a new home in Chepstow. Her sister Di was working as a nurse in Edinburgh. Joanne was leaving without regrets. She did not have many belongings to pack although the Harry Potter work-in-progress was not forgotten.