my500words : day 28 : From Being a Paper Boy to Having a Career

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From Being a Paper Boy to Having a Career


My first job, with a salary, was as a paper boy. I had a paper round and delivered door to door until my bag was empty, six days a week.

My first real job though was a Saturday job in Woolworth’s where, wearing a long brown overall, I worked behind the scenes, organising the stock, receiving deliveries and working the machine that crushed paper into large cubes, secured with metallic ribbons.

After a few months, they let me behind the counters, and I sold nails and bolts, washers and screws by weight. A sort of pick and mix of the DIY variety.

I remember loving the banter and the contact with the customers and those Saturday’s flew by.

When the shop doors closed at five pm, I would run up the stairs to the little office on the first floor, to get my pay in a small brown envelope. Then, sitting on the cold concrete stairs, I would rip it open and let the coins fall into my hands and feel their weight in my clenched fists.

I felt wealthy and of course, the coins would burn a hole in my pocket until I had spent them all on sweets, comics, model aircraft and Dinky toys.

My passion for music developed at home and at school around that time.

I’d been having piano lessons every week, but one day my piano teacher heard me sing and persuaded me to drop the piano and take singing lessons instead.

At the same time, I was taking the bus every Sunday to a manor in the country, where a wealthy woman hosted an orchestra of forty or so amateur musicians. I became the percussionist.

When we had finished rehearsing, we would retreat to the hall, or walk out onto the lawns when the weather permitted, for afternoon tea.

Then our host would give me an oboe lesson before I took the bus home.

I treasure the memories of those Sunday afternoons, five decades later.

I was passionate about music, and I envisioned it as a career. I also had a yearning for adventure. I wanted to join the Royal Marines when I left school and play an instrument in a marching band.

Circumstances, however, led me to leave school, and I ended up taking a suitcase with a few belongings and travelling to Edinburgh to work for a small publishing company. During the week I would work the printing machines and make pamphlets and bind larger books. On the weekend I would visit the bookstores and offer books on a sale or return basis.

It was a far cry from the shining adventure I had anticipated, and looking back at it now it was a form of slave labour. I only got paid when the company had sufficient funds, and I slept in a small room on the second floor of the warehouse. I ate when I could, but I don’t remember having meal times, just a sandwich or two grabbed between never-ending tasks from morning till night.

I hated that job and only persisted for one reason.

It was there that I found my first love, and discovered the joys and pains of infatuation.

At last, I was on a real adventure, of passion and sweet suffering. For a time nothing else mattered, and my only thoughts were to be with her.

We eventually left the publishing company together and pursued a summer of love in bedsits and grotty flats living an authentic hippy life.

It’s amazing what you are willing to do to quench your thirst from the cup of love.

Most of those memories still make me smile, but some of them I’ve tried to push as far back into the recesses of my mind as I could.

Unfortunately, with memories, you don’t get to pick and choose, and although I’ve tried hard, I’ve not been able to forget many of them.

Two years later we parted company, and I found not only a real job but a career that I would embrace for the next 25 years.

This is day 28 of my 31 day challenge to write 500 words a day.

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