Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Saturday jobs...

I have my appointment on Friday. Well it has to be done, after all what’s the point of mortgage protection insurance if you can’t use it and I can’t unless I’ve registered.

I'm expecting it to be a little grim and I’ve got my black hoodie and trainers all ready. I spent some time in front of the mirror this morning saying 'innit' and 'dunno' and 'nuffin', shrugging my shoulders and gazing into the distance - so at least I'll be trying to fit in. No, that’s wrong. I’m sure that it’s not like that at all; it can’t all be stand-up comic stereotyping.

It got me thinking about my working life and my Saturday jobs though. My first Saturday job was delivering milk with my uncle Len. I was probably eleven or so. I can’t say that I enjoyed getting up at five o’clock in the morning weekends and holidays, shrucking on my duffel coat and going out into the morning air, but it was a job.

Later, in my early teens I progressed from the milk round to gardening work, first at the girls horticultural college at Waterperry (I’ve written about this before), and then at a big house (Saturdays and holidays) helping out the old gardener until he got knocked off his bike cycling home one day and was killed. What was his name? Old something-or-other, I'll never forget his face though. He taught me a lot about gardening.

Still later I went to work at the carpet shop inside what used to be the old cinema. It was strange spending my Saturdays in the same picture house where I used to watch Casablanca and Rin Tin Tin on a Saturday afternoon for a tanner. Ju-Ju worked there with me for a while and two less likely lads you can’t imagine. We used to measure the carpet and then cut it with a Stanley knife guiding it with a long carpet cutting block with a slot for the blade – sliiiiisshhh. I’ll never forget the sound of that blade, or the blood when Ju-Ju sliced the end of his finger off one day. We used to make sure that we never cut too short by always cutting far too long, this worked well until we were spotted and sacked for giving away hundreds of pounds worth of carpet. I wonder how many box-rooms were carpeted with our over generous measuring?

It didn’t matter though, this was the heyday of the Saturday job and a couple of weeks later I was working at Sheargold’s the ironmongers on the High Street. I liked working at Sheargold's, weighing out the nails on the scales, counting out the daffodil bulbs and dropping them into brown paper bags, putting the brooms out on display in front the shop window. There always seemed to be a Saturday job available back then.

Oh to be back then in the time of the Saturday job.

I got a message the other day from one of my ‘back thens’, a message from so long ago that I’d hardly recognise myself if I bumped into him in the High Street. Not a Sheargold’s back then, but a Lewis's back then - a Saturday job at college back then.

I started in the basement on china at Lewis's and, apart from a two week stint in ladies underwear, stayed in the plates and dishes for almost two years. This person had been reading my posts late at night and it made them think about the past and how, as we get older, it seems to become so much more important.

I know that feeling. I spend quite a lot of time in the past probably because at some point there comes a time when your future crosses the line and becomes shorter than your past has been. Maybe that’s why I go back so often - to live in my past for a while in the hope of slowing things down just a little, stopping the future from coming so quickly.

Of course you can’t really, and as I’ve said before – you can’t change your past, but the future is full of opportunity. There must be Saturday jobs to be had still.

Innit tho blud.


  1. I really wouldn't want to change my past, it makes you who you are - the fabric of life and all that. I certainly take a step back into my past often, not to dwell, make excuses, apologies or lay blame; well not anymore.
    As a mother, wife, teacher I am able to see clearer, understand and appreciate the complexities of life and all it brings. Opportunity is always there; the important thing is that you embrace it with all you have in the here and now.
    Good luck for Friday- "nuff said innit homee'

  2. Alan Shorrock commented on Facebook:

    Reminds me of my first Saturday job.. Hanging on the back of a flat bed wagon for grim death. Hurtling round the housing estates of Blackburn selling bottles of pop for Corona. Me and the driver had a scam going... We marketed the passion fruit drinks as the housewives aphrodisiac for their docile husbands.
    My first school boy scam!

  3. Barbara Balding commented on facebook:

    so true Andy! so true! just love this story!

  4. Neil Fishwick commented on Facebook:

    I once used to help a guy in our village who supplied and built in situ small kilns for craft potters. Travelled as far as Cambridge once to install one!

    I also had a paper round on a Sunday in Scotland, I was only 11 and used to earn 66p (if I remember rightly) plus tips :-)

    Oh, and I served petrol too when we had few if any self serve stations around.

  5. Never had a morning paper round, but I did deliver free papers, hundreds of them in the villages around Thame, now I come to think of it. I'd forgotten that.

  6. Kevin Parrott commented on Facebook:

    I too spend time in the past Andrew, probably for the same reasons.

  7. Sharon Hutt commented on Facebook:

    Sharon wrote "Hi you will be fine, lots of other professionals will be there also in same situation, take a book as lots of waiting around. Dont forget that by signing on you get your nat ins contributions paid which is v important."

  8. Dave Phillips e-mailed:

    What was the appointment? Jobcentre? Are you also now wearing these trousers with the low crutch and the reveal of pants?

    The old cinema was called the Regal when we were kids-it had other names before that. It’s now a new built Library and quite impressive. Timing was good-planned pre crunch I would think.

    I can vaguely remember you and Julian at the carpet shop although not the bit of you getting sacked. Are you still into gardening?

    I don’t think I was presentable enough for such jobs-I spent a bit of time at the Slaughterhouse [obviously since closed], at Bennetts the Butchers [since closed], the Woolyard carting round big greasy flacks of wool and the Laundry [both since closed]-to my surprise Malcolm Allsop worked at the latter for a bit. I also worked on the building of Van Diemens [popular demand would have this closed down]. CPM, Wrights the Bakers, King Harry, Thame Timber before graduating on to the more exciting job of van driving where amongst my achievements were the delivery of dodgy TV’s in strange places in London and managing to smash into a garage forecourt in Manchester

    I may have told you that in the early 80’s I was delivering something or other to a boutigue off Bond St and Marilyn Cole[?] the model and ex Roxy cover girl was working there. She was stunningly statuesque-I wasn’t, I’d just shifted some of those dodgy TV’s.

    I think your point about looking towards the past in part to try to counteract the future [or aspects of it] is an interesting one. Some of the reasons I moved back here are probably similar in nature. I think that I’m naturally inclined towards the slow life and living in a small town helps with this [although not as much as living out in rural Suffolk-man that’s slow]. I also find the emotional/mental effects of still walking the streets, having to go to John Hampden [I’m reluctantly on the PTA now] to be generally positive…I haven’t expressed that very well..will have to give more thought.

    Anyway some local News is that Lunny [David Lunn] died in late Jan. Was he a relative? Some other people have died and other stuff.

    Sorry for the ramble-it’s late.

    Will think of you as I shamble round the High St later this week-may wear my trousers low in some unfocussed show of solidarity although I tend to find this happens naturally now anyway.

    Cheers my very old mate

  9. Sarah Rook commented on Facebook:

    My Saturday job was working in a greengrocers cleaning.....hard work but enjoyed it. Five quid at the end of the day and as many grapes as I liked (or at least used to eat when no one was looking)!! Past is the past, I'm sure everyone has good and bad memories . Important thing is that any lessons that are needed to be learnt are and we continue down the path of life a wiser, better and happier person.

  10. Emma Cholmondely commented on Sarah Rook's comment on Facebook:

    Couldn't agree more sis! XX Gosh I remember that Greengrocers in Perry Barr Shopping Arcade. You used to get about £2 an hour if you were lucky!!