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mouldy strawberries vs fish and chips – student jobs

Posted on Oct 13, 2015 | 0 comments

My youngest brother started Uni last week (everyone say Ahhh), and it got me reminicising about student life and all the things we used to do to. My lasting memories of Uni were over-drinking (mainly nasty coloured liquids on a Wednesday night- I did go to Loughborough after all); over-sleeping (missing half of my ten hours of lectures in a week was not unusual) and all the jobs I did to make money. Most of these were in the 3 month holidays we had. Those were the days…

Sensible people of course saved their money, and went back to Uni with all their books bought for the term and new stationary and a food budget which would buy them more than 1 bag of pasta and a tin of tomatoes per week. Of course, I was not one of those people. I worked solidly for 6 weeks and then went on holiday, so I found myself in an odd situation where I had to work in the holidays and in term time. I know, what was I thinking? I wound up with a job on security at the student union, removing people just like when they had got too drunk on purple / blue / orange liquids and hoping that they did not vomit on me in the process.

One year, I had the pleasure of working in a very famous jam factory. I had to stand at a conveyor belt and pick the mouldy bits out of strawberries with a teaspoon. I was so good at it that I was promoted to the pectin machine (yes people, I was the envy of all the other students), where I had to work with a bloke who was about as sharp as a doughnut, on the onerous and highly skilled task of adding pectin to the fruit before it became jam. This was my first lesson in how it feels to be promoted above your peers. I soon asked to go back to the conveyor belt…

Now, I think about it, I re-call that most of my jobs were food related. My favourite job was working in a chip shop in my home town on a Friday and Saturday night. I did that for 5 years, before and during Uni. I used to work on the counter with a fabulous pair of old ladies called Ivy and Pat, both with perfectly blow-dried hair, who had a new vendetta against each other every week. John and Jan cooked, and everyone thought they were married, but no, John was a fabulous old queen who would entertain us with kitchen stories and Jan was his trusty sidekick, rolling her eyes at him as only one can when you have known someone for so long… The only downside was that I would absolutely reek of chip fat when I’d finished, but it was nothing a liberal coat of Dior Poison couldn’t cover up, and besides, once I’d been in the pub for half an hour, I was so coated in fag smoke anyway, that no-one could smell anything else.

It wasn’t quite the same when I worked in the Vodka factory. That was nasty. Filling up bottles with something that smelt like white spirit, my hands would get covered in the stuff, and trousers and shoes too if any of the bottles fell off the conveyor belt on to the floor, which was quite common. I still wonder who drank that stuff, because I never saw it for sale anywhere. Now I think about it, it was probably sold to my student union…

Modern life is not like that anymore… (mutter, mutter, mutter, youth of today, mutter) My brother does not even need to leave his room to make money. He has a youtube channel and makes money from advertising revenue. He will probably never have to work in a factory and almost definitely will not have the experience of working in a chippie. But I did, and I loved it. Those were the days…

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