Wednesday, March 14, 2007

That elusive job

This is his story. All the way from the Valleys (South Wales - I keep having to remember the internet is global). Don't forget the accent, now then, or whatever they say with that sing-song sort of voice.

Over to him:

I will never forget that day. There were only three of us called into the headmaster's office.

There was me, Alan, and Phil.

I had only been in the headmaster's office twice before that.

Once was because I was late for assembly and I'd not finished my paper round in time to get to school. The other was when I had pulled Mrs Griffiths' wig off when I had bumped into her running down the corridor playing Tag (me not her).

Anyway, back to that fateful day. But not straightaway because I am Welsh.

My school isn't on the map. It isn't on Friends United. Hers is. Her junior school and her senior school. And her snotty classmates who don't really want to contact each other. Half of them are back in Yorkshire and the other half are in California. Anyway who am I to talk?

I don't think my school is there any more. Or at least not in the same existence. The school seems to have been re-incarnated and removed and closed. A number of times. In fact it seems to have moved at one point to the girls' grammar school. Have I missed out in life ? I would so like to have gone to the girls' grammar school. I might have got better results.

Where I went to school is in one of the most deprived areas of the UK. Perhaps it always was. I didn't think it was so bad myself, although I didn't like it.

Anyway the headmaster said, "Sit down boys."

We sat down and waited for the cane. He was standing behind his desk with his hand on the long cupboard door where the cane lived.

"Well done, Curly (Phil). You have got an apprenticeship in the print. I expected this of you. You are the brightest boy in the class.

"Well done, Alan, for getting your apprentice mechanic's job at Western Welsh Bus Company.

"And you boy, I can't really believe this. But as I have notification from your future employer and the Schools Career Service, I have to. Well done."

There were only three of us out of my class that got apprenticeships. There were two other classes. I have no idea what happened to any of them as they aren't on Friends United.

The headmaster said to me later, " I always expected you to get a job boy. Anyone that leaves the house at 5am at 11 years of age to go and do a paper round and sticks at it is always going to be in work. But I didn't expect you to get an apprenticeship."

This was when I was delivering newspapers to his house in Snobs' Row, before I went to work, still in my apprenticeship years. The paper rounds paid more money than the full-time job, so I kept them going, before and after work, and at weekends. The headmaster never liked me much anyway.

Lots of my mates went into the canning factory, better paid than being an apprentice. And when it closed they had no skill and no job.

When I started tech there were 25 of us apprentices, from a wide area. When I finished there were six of us who got our papers and were still in a job.

It wasn't easy at the time. There wasn't much work in the Valleys. Over the years there was less.

So I get a bit racked off when people come out of other jobs, with pensions, and take a short course, to retrain in a trade skill and get a qualification in a few weeks. It took me years and it was hard graft. It's never been an easy living and it's never been well-paid. But I've usually found work.

Why are people so greedy that they want to take money from those of us who have spent our lives in one occupation - for a bit of pocket money, to boost their pension, and maintain their lifestyle?

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