My first job

Yesterday, having decided that 4 days bed rest was sufficient down-time from surgery, I attempted to leave the house and go for a spot of lunch with members of the extended skulk. Obviously, this was both over-ambitious and wrong, and, having had a good yank on my stitches (18, to be exact, and in a place where one would least like to have stitches), I am now actually bed-ridden. Lesson learned? Watching Holby City (don’t you judge me) does not qualify me to make informed medical decisions. And I’m an idiot.

Moving on.

This thread popped up while I was pissing about on the interwebs: My First Job. Always a fun thing to ask new people – everyone ends up trying to out-do each other for the honour of having the worst first job. Mine? I worked for Next, hawking candles (they called them wax pots for some reason, which made me irrationally angry) and cushions. You were contractually obliged to be there at 4.30am when the sale started, and had to check all your payslips to ensure that they’d paid you properly (they had a habit of ‘forgetting’ that you were supposed to earn more on Sundays).  I quit after 10 months when my upstart shit of a manager threw the rail of skirts I had just tidied onto the floor at my feet, and demanded I replace and re-tidy them before leaving. I declined to do so. All for the princely sum of £3.93 an hour.

Some of the IdeasTap contributors:

Comedian and improviser Cariad Lloyd: “My first paid job was working at a local bakery. I had to wear a straw boater with a hairnet, as it was a traditional bakery that kept up its Victorian values. But we did get free bread, pastries and pasties at the end of the day. My brother was absolutely devastated when I quit. “

Theatre designer Jo Scotcher: “My first paid job was doing punting tours along the River Cam. I probably made better money than you do as a theatre designer.”

Lead singer of Wild Beasts, Hayden Thorpe: “I was in charge of the dairy section of the local supermarket. But, being lactose intolerant and incapable of not vomiting at the faintest whiff of stale milk on my hands, I spent most of the time developing strange OCD habits involving manic hand-scrubbing and frantic dashes for the loos. I lasted three weeks.”

Actor Glyn Pritchard,  “I worked in a fun fair back in the early ’70s, to buy Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies album with my first wage. It was a great job until some skinheads came and made me ride around on my own merry go round for what seemed like half the day.”

Costume designer and stylist, Laura Clayton: “My first proper summer job was doing data entry in a portakabin on a giant trucker park. I was the only female and regularly subjected to smirking renditions of “Tell Laura I Love Her”. I still shudder every time I see a car transporter.”

Textile designer and illustrator Ellie Curtis: “I found a job in my village pet shop where I had to crawl on all fours among quails, scraping their poos off the floor, or smashing up blocks of frozen chicks from the freezer for owls to scoff. I was paid £1.75 per hour and after a few weeks I saved up enough for a pair of unflattering baggy red dungarees from Camden Market, which was my goal.”

Writer and independent publisher, Kit Caless: “Cleaning up old people’s sick on P&O Ferries aged 16.”

Novelist, writer and columnist Kirsty Logan: “Mine was dressing up as Maisie the Mouse for a children’s book event.”

Digital storytelling producer and theatre-maker Lisa Heledd Jones: “My first paid job was as a checkout girl at Kwik Save. I absolutely loved it.  I was a big fan of the massive freezer where I’d attempt to trap and flirt with Jake the Stacker. After I’d graduated and got my first ‘proper’ job I went back in to buy some flowers. Weird Phil the Freezer was now the manager, earning double what I was earning and driving a sports car.”

Lady Fox also had to dress up as Maisie Mouse at a children’s book event! There’s even photographic evidence:


Lady Fox: “It was the day after my 21st and I was absolutely hanging. Every time a child hugged me I had to hold my breath to stop me vomming all over the inside of the Maisie suit.”

Lovely, isn’t she?

What was your first job? Virtual gold stars for the most horrific.

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