Back in the olden days of the early Naughties, when the world was sepia and Twitter didn’t exist, Fay Schlesinger was a college student brimming with energy but clueless about what she wanted to do. Until, that is, a veteran news reporter delivered an electrifying lecture at Oxford University. “Journalism is like having a front seat on the arena of the world,” he said. From that moment, she was hooked.
Fay moved from local papers to The Guardian, the Daily Mail and The Times of London, where she became head of news — the first woman to hold that role and the youngest in the paper’s 230-year history. In a decade of covering news in Britain, she met Usain Bolt and the queen, won awards for exposing tax avoidance by the rich and famous, and spent an awkward evening in a Parisian swingers’ club apparently frequented by the head of the International Monetary Fund. Next stop? OZY.
After the maelstrom of daily breaking news, her eye was caught by OZY’s insatiable curiosity and off-the-beaten-track stories. Fay loves nothing better than a good new fact, the weirder and more counterintuitive the better, whether in politics, the arts or tech. Among her faves: Why Uganda has fallen in love with houseflies, and how it’s harder to become a hair-braider than an EMT in the U.S. — and who’s to blame. Oh, and what we can all learn from the foreskin of Jesus.
Traversing the Atlantic from beautiful Yorkshire and London, and ending up in stunning California, has taught Fay a few things: Americans and Brits really are two peoples divided by a common language. If you book a double hotel room, you get enough beds for four people. No one says “keen” here. Or “terrific.”
She feared that coming to a sunny state would leave her unable to talk meaningfully and daily about a Brit’s favorite subject: the weather. She needn’t have worried: The microclimates of the San Francisco Bay Area — where you can burn, then freeze half an hour later when the clouds roll in — will make for riveting elevator conversations for years to come.
And finally, mac ’n’ cheese translates! Thank goodness for that.