I have had to think of an answer to the idea that there is a #dreamjob for everyone. I was asked again the other day if there was anything i really, really wanted to do. “You have enough time left to make your mark in the world, haven’t you?

1972 or thereabouts my family moved from Church/Oswaldtwistle to Bispham/Blackpool just in time for me to take my 11plus at Grange park infants before we broke up for the summer. I can remember the Jubilation on my fathers face as he read my report in the kitchen some time later, well done son!

That night as i lay in my sleeping bag, ear to the carpet i heard my Mother (later to be Stepmother) say “No he’s not going to Grammar school”, i don’t want him thinking he is any different from the others”. So off i went to Montgomery High School in Bispham and found myself in 1Alpha with the sons of Dentists, Solicitors and even a Judge. My older siblings where already in D/E.

Year 2 i had dropped to 1a and continued every year to drop as my home life seemed to occupy my thoughts more and more. My English essays brought extra school dinners on occasion’s, and i once  missed the whole of Speech Day at the Wintergardens in Blackpool as i had a whole tray of Sultana Sponge and a huge Aluminium jug of Custard to get through before i was allowed to leave, Teachers orders.  One thing that was obvious to some where my skills at making things but i can only remember one item actually making it home, a three sided paint scraper with turned handle which my Mother refused to give me the money for on the idea i had bought it.

In my fourth and fifth year i had a careers lesson with a lady who knew every local company, who was good to work for, who paid what etc. Somewhere in my notes was the information for her to steer me into Printing and off i went to a Printing shop in the far South of Blackpool as a Typesetter. My factory was situated across the road from a Littlewoods pools building staffed by women, some came from my end of Bispham and their works bus allowed me on to get me there. It wasn’t a nice experience for a 16 year old, all those cackling women. It was the only time i have had a clocking on card but i quickly settled in to the day in my little workshop complete with a wall of trays full of Fonts which where supplemented by a Typesetter machine constantly through out the day.

I had to work a month before any pay so the bus had been great but i was five minutes late on my card which brought me in front of the manager before the end of week one. My only option was to cycle, a good ten miles but hellish in November in the rains. Week two and another new starter from out of town had been bought a house to stay in not far from the factory and he asked if i would like to stay with him. I jumped and had two glorious weeks living a free life.

Its pay day and i am desperate to pay my dues to my new friend as the factory gathers around the man with the cardboard box and the clipboard on the main factory floor. He proceeds to shout out names and hand out little brown packets and the crowd gradually shrunk until there was only myself.

The chap scanned the list and  said Lee you need to see the boss so off i went. I could see on his face it wasn’t good news and i quickly learnt my mother had been in and signed for my wages, allowed in law until 18 years. The boss finished off my sacking with “you want to get yourself far away from that woman, she is a nasty piece of work and will ruin your life.” I have never asked my dad about that evening when i had to return home.

Carpet fitting,  the Army, homelessness followed by Farming, cooking, and years later i had the option to do just that and put some miles between us by getting married and moving to Devon. I found myself in a rural nightmare not having passed my driving test but was lucky to meet someone in the pub who wanted help Plaster boarding so off i went earning £100+ /day up until Mrs Thatcher came to power which was followed by a construction dip as everyone bought their council houses. Unemployed i found myself in with the Manpower Services Commission working on the refurbishment of Coldharbour mill, which has got to be high on the list of jobs ive enjoyed.  I built most of the timber bridges across the river and the steps down into the mill etc and it was me on my own with welding bottles and a plan that did all the steel landings, steps, and banisters in the main Beam Engine house amongst lots and lots of other stuff. A fantastic boss a Major Robert Hoy was responsible for this project. I even managed to climb that chimney and sit on the top one lunchtime, my rock climbing Geography teacher would be impressed. Over twenty years followed that with the Connaught Group working on Council house/ block refurbishment mainly, i have an unblemished record for finishing jobs on time and in budget with everyone happy. And those are not my words, they where said to my son by an ex Connaught Office person. But he still hasn’t given me a job.

I had a call from my then boss whilst out in Jersey 1999 doing a three tower block refurbishment offering me salary of £32,000 plus benefits, car etc after years of being Self-employed. Get yourself home and discuss it with the wife. I did just that on that Valentines weekend and ended up in emergency housing and an unemployed single parent to boot. The effects of working away when you live in a rural area with little work.

A few years later i went back on the tools to teach my son the trade and we earned well together until i damaged my arm on the Exeter Crown Court project on a scaffold pudloc. The Cowlins site manager was reluctant to let me enter it in the accident book on the day, “its only a knock”. A week later my Doctor said i would never do my job again and i was signed off for 24 months and told to tell the jobcentre to look into training or i would never reach my earnings potential again and he would probably be seeing me in the future for depression.

Connexions  i think where the first who offered to re-write my CV followed by Nextstep i have lost count how many times its been altered. Luckily i had friends who had set up a new company and wanted me to run the office as they where too busy on the trowel. Two years in and we price for a local health centre using Sto M system, which i have done miles of, here and in Germany. We win the bid and all goes well until final paycheck day and because Cowlins hadn’t earnt as much as they wished, the Qs Ning in front of us was telling us we where going to be robbed of £16000 pound. He went on to say we could take them to court but they had already worked out if they sat on it we would run out of money in about eight weeks. Bankruptcy followed by unemployment followed by Connexions, Nextstep, A4e, TTs re-write the CV go to interviews after being told “you should go for that”, “but i’m not qualified” go for it anyway, you never know. After many of them i am going back to Construction interviews in desperation., sick of being embarrassed in the waiting rooms sat opposite people with folders full of Qualifications on paper. The list of things on my skills map has been tucked away, it may have worked if the world hadn’t gone NVQ mad but i still don’t have an NVQ which has stopped me getting into Assessing in Construction #dreamjob “you can have a 100 years experience but if none of it is on paper, you aint coming in” (A local Training est in Exeter). So a roofer drives down from Blackpool to monitor my son and his workmates NVQ in Plastering and has never seen anything like it (he’s words). My son is depressed as the goons working next to him are going to get an NVQ also, he wouldn’t let them plaster a cut finger never mind a gable end. They have been in the job for weeks and my son for years. We await to see if that is the case, qualifications handed out to anyone. Now i am at work experience stage MWRA and i have to offer my services for free for four weeks. First stop my local Library is being built and Sto M system is on some walls. Sto is in Basingstoke, i ring, they know me well, i speak to the library people, i speak to the main contractor in Barnstable no joy yet and i’m an expert. I haven’t phoned quite a few of the big construction company’s due to loosing money to them in the past but if i don’t find somewhere TTs will, Poundshop is always on the cards.

“You are young enough to have enough time left to put your mark on the world”, a quip of wisdom from my TTS fellow, is there anything you really want to do? i can fix it for you. He doesn’t give me much hope, he dribbles as he speaks and his shirt is always hanging out. He has the look of an old knackered ground worker winging it. I stare into space, my #dreamjob was probably the Connaught salary which would have brought with it folders of qualifications which i could be taking to interviews today. But i could also have ended up super depressed at the demise of the Connaught Group in 2010, i know some are. Perhaps Typesetting was my trade, i still love a good font but now my eyes are on the change, but i still have a desire to write something and make the paper, bind the book etc. #dreamjob

Now my body, arms in particular from fingers to shoulder are shot at from chasing tight prices on huge walls/ ceilings and probably being in the wrong trade all my life. My son is in the same boat today, wrong trade and a crash in world economies and he’s on prices i earned 25 years ago.  Going back to what the Doctor said earnings wise, i haven’t earn more than £6,000 since that day, its a low pay area i keep being told. My reply to that takes me back to Connaught which i left with RSI, one of the office persons left shortly after with 11 million, low pay, please define low pay. It was this week my Doctor asked me about depression, he still hasn’t tested my blood pressure even after mentioning he hasn’t seen me in eight years, i told him i am hanging on well, even though my body isn’t, after all there’s a #dreamjob for everyone, apparently #dreamjob #dreamlife #dontknow


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