My First Job (As A Pre-Schooler), Kenny Chesney and ‘Shiftwork’

Well, I seem to have turned into a bimonthly blogger. Or at least I thought I had until I discovered bimonthly can mean either occurring twice a month, or every two months. All very confusing so you have to add something else to clarify which of the two you mean i.e. ‘a bimonthly blogger only publishing something new twice a month’. Seems to me it’s probably best to avoid the word altogether.

It probably comes as no surprise to regular followers around here, that when life gets a bit angsty, my blogging suffers. Watching rolling news is a recipe for disaster but nigh impossible to avoid. Like many others, I sometimes wish I could turn back the clock and change some of the events of the past six years, both in the wider world and closer to home (Brexit, that pesky bat in Wuhan, my mum’s Alzheimer’s…).

The hot topic at the moment is the ‘cost of living crisis’, as it’s being coined. Basically, everything is getting more expensive. I cannot imagine how tough it must be for families with young children coping with the current onslaught of rising prices – energy, petrol, food, etc. Can it go on long-term? Hope not. I had thought we would be ok when retirement comes along but now I’m not so sure – my decision to give up my secure office job ten years shy of pension age, so that I could spend more time blogging, was maybe not one of my best, but hey, who knew back then what lay ahead.

Talking of jobs, something nice happened recently that made me reflect on my very first experience of the world of work, when I was aged just four. Every now and again I get contacted by one of the people I used to know from my old village primary school. It’s still a close-knit community and although I am no longer part of it, they know I have a good memory for things that happened in the dim and distant past. A booklet is going to be published soon containing stories from the 1960s and they wondered if I would contribute. Here’s what I came up with (some of it in Doric, the local dialect):

Going to Work for the Doctor

One of my very first memories is from when I was aged four. Doctor Campbell, our local GP, had opened the back door to our house on Meadow Avenue to find us sitting at our little kitchen table supping our lunchtime soup, possibly broth, or maybe tattie it being a Saturday.

‘Isn’t it time you were getting back to work quine?’ he said to my mum who was still in shock from this unannounced visit (but no-one locked their doors in those days and village doctors didn’t stand on ceremony).

I think the year was 1964 and it turned out he was in need of assistance as his wife, Mrs Campbell, who became my Primary Three teacher, was heading back to the classroom. A new appointment-based system was going to be set up and there would be a need for reception/secretarial staff at his little surgery within the grounds of his house on Western Road. He had obviously remembered my mum from her time at John Robertson Ltd, the local building firm, where she had worked for many years prior to having me.

‘But what about Alison?’ asked my mum once a brief discussion had taken place between the good doctor and my parents. (Our soup by this time had quite probably gone cold.)

‘She can come too,’ he replied.

The young worker in her favourite office attire – a dress with rabbits on it! (My dad’s bumper ‘tattie’ crop in the background)

And so it came to pass that my mum and I headed off to work every morning, me on my trike and her in one of her smart outfits that hadn’t been needed for some time, those pencil skirt and edge-to-edge jacket combos that were popular in the early ‘60s. It couldn’t happen nowadays of course, and I can’t imagine any of my 21st century bosses agreeing to such a thing, but I think I must have been quite a well-behaved and trustworthy child who was good at amusing herself, so it worked well. There was the waiting room to ‘file’ comics in (I couldn’t actually read them yet as Miss Margaret, my Primary One teacher, still had to work her magic on me); the garden and conservatory to ‘make house visits’ in; and the paths to ride my three-wheeled ‘ambulance’ on. If I ever had a fall and ‘skinned my knee’, as children are prone to do, there was medical assistance close at hand. Come lunchtime we headed home again and the other lady, who had been recruited at the same time, took over, ready to greet the afternoon’s batch of patients.

In due course, I started school, so my days of ‘going to work’ were short-lived but my mum carried on supporting the local GP practice for another 31 years right up until she retired in 1995, at age 60. There were many changes of course during that time with some doctors retiring and other new ones joining the practice. It happened after I had left the village, but there was also the move to the fancy new Health Centre, and the advent of computerisation which had to be grappled with and conquered.

My mum lives in a care home now, not far from me, but on her wall she still has the cross-stitched picture she was given upon her retirement, of her sitting at the Health Centre reception window in her red cardigan. Happy memories for her indeed, of being at the heart of the community and of a job well done.


But what the heck – this is supposed to be a music blog. I have pretty much used up all the wordcount already so nothing much left to do but share a song relating to the world of work – this one called Shiftwork by Kenny Chesney. I can’t say I know much about Kenny other than that he’s American and is a very successful country music star, having won many awards. The song Shiftwork was recorded with George Strait in 2007 for his album Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates. Both singers express their frustrations with constantly working shifts at a convenience store.

Shiftwork by Kenny Chesney (feat. George Strait)

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – The world of work has changed a lot over the generations and in the 21st century it has changed again. Although there seem to be plenty of job vacancies out there, most of them are down to the after-effects of Brexit, and the pandemic, so not always the quality jobs our offspring need to get them on track for adult life. Many of DD’s friends already have two (shiftwork) jobs and she has recently taken on a second job herself. Life is tough for some of them and without help from the mythical ‘bank of mum and dad’, the idea of ever owning their own home is a non-starter. I think I may have thrown in the towel myself, a tad too soon.

Until next time…

Shiftwork Lyrics
(Song by Troy Jones)

Shift work, hard work, tired body
Blue-collar shirt and a baseball cap
You knew me

He’s hot, sweat drops, ’round the clock
Door never locks
Noise never stops
Not all day
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Shift work, tough work for the busy convenience store clerk
Two feet that hurt, going insane
She’s mad at some lad
Drove off and didn’t pay for his gas and he won’t be the last
’round the clock pain
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Talking about a bunch of shift work
A big ol’ pile of shift work
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Well I work, shift work,
Ten years man, i hated that work
I made a break with the money i saved
It took me to the beach to have a beer by the edge of the sea
And this ’round a clock place
I drank my money away
We partied
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven