Post by LFS Post by Kate B
I did a paper round when I was twelve or thirteen or so (wasn't there
an age limit for that?
There was indeed. My daughter did a paper round when she was about 11
- used her wages to buy herself the complete Illustrated Oxford
Dictionary as a part-work. Our version of Carpet Burns, who was a
friend, came round to tell me, very apologetically, that she would
have to stop delivering the papers - including his! - because he'd had
an official complaint.
Do today's children still have such opportunities? We had a paper girl
until last summer but the paper is now delivered by a chap in a car.
In the sixth form our children both did stints on the phone for a local
double glazing firm which was very well paid. Son was brilliant at
fixing appointments but gave it up in a crisis of conscience: he said it
upset him to think that so many of the people answering the phone were
elderly and expecting calls from their family. Daughter worked for
directory enquiries at one point but got fed up with the abuse.
In the Neil-Gaimanesque underworld of the black economy and the drug
economy, I'm sure they have bags of opportunity: don't so many of the
stabbings and shootings and acid attacks in big cities result from
children working in -let's call them - Unregulated Industries?
But Saturday jobs and other part-time work seems to have been made
almost extinct through regulation by the authorities and changing
attitudes amongst young people: newsagents have been employing older
people to deliver the news for some time because they have found them to
be more reliable than the young - and with the wave of newsagent
closures and monopolistic wholesaler practices - see
- news delivery may soon be a thing of the past. These days employment
of young people is very closely monitored by local authorities and by
schools and I guess many potential employers - who can be clobbered with
all sorts of fines, etc - don't think it is worth the bother.
Three of my summer holiday jobs really stand out: the stint on a factory
floor which was mind-numbingly boring but through which I learned an
awful lot about the power of the unions in those days; the holidays in
which my then-girlfriend and I each, separately but intentionally,
worked in the same, large grocery store and the summer, aged sixteen
and waiting for my O-level results, when I signed the Official Secrets
Act and worked on Concorde.
Knowing that we would never be going back there again we staged a six
week long soap opera for our own amusement and the benefit of staff and
customers. Only two characters (us) were seen: the rest were voices off.
It was an everyday tale of shopkeeping folk: though we had been going
out together for some time, we pretended we'd never met before and
played the Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy And Girl Make Up And Live
Happily Ever After drama out on the shop floor right up to our very
I've either claimed immunity from from telling this story because of
the OSA or bored umra with it so many times I don't need to repeat it. I
can't remember which.
Except, of course, in real life, we didn't