Wednesday, 10 March 2010

English Journey

My first thought when I wake up each morning is, 'what day is it?' Without fail I ask myself that question. This is one luxury I am very gratefull for, to be able to spend half an hour or so gently emerging from my sleep and quietly contemplating what the day ahead might bring. I am in complete control, how I fill the hours and minutes is entirely up to me. After ten months of retirement I never dreamed it could be this wonderfull.

Some people fear the day they have to stop going to work, the routine of clocking in every morning, chatting with their work colleagues and tasks to be completed, it all gives a purpose to life. I used to be the same, I remember I laughed at the older drivers when they said they couldn't wait to get out. I was so in love with the job I joked that as long as I could climb into the cab with the aid of my zimmer frame, I would carry on driving till the end.

So what changed? Well I am convinced it wasn't me. I have thought about it long and hard. I still have that craving for freedom of movement which the job gave me. I still have an appetite for exploration and learning. I still have the confidence required to do the job and the intelligence to work alone, to make decisions, and to do what I think best. It's the job that has changed.

I find the whole work ethic fascinating, and have recently found this interesting book which gives detailed descriptions of many workplaces throughout the UK. I haven't read any J B Priestley before but I am really getting into this. English Journey was first published in 1934 and is just as relevant today as it was then. His journey starts in Southampton, then Bristol, Swindon, Cotswolds, Birmingham, the Midlands, Yorkshire, Lancashire, the North East, and back down to Lincoln and Norfolk. He gave up driving after crashing into a lamp post, and used rail, motor bus, and a chauffeur driven car for his wanderings. Maybe the modern day equivelant would be to do it on a bus pass :o)

The book paints fascinating pictures of work places. What I like about it is the down to earth, plain speaking descriptions. There is no political correctness, he says what he thinks. Of the Potteries he says, 'Undignified and ugly little towns, the rows of dingy dolls houses, the narrow streets that lead from one dreariness to another'.

He visited a hosiery factory in Leicester, detailing the tedious piece-work that the girls spent hours at. The manager explained, 'In his experience girls preferred purely routine and monotonous jobs because once they learnt the fairly simple necessary movements they could then work all day and think about something else while they were working'. I remember doing piece-work myself, in a toilet roll factory. I don't think they call it piece-work any more, it's called targets, ahhh, the dreaded targets:0(


And so today, I have no piece work, I have no targets. Good or bad? I don't know. Maybe I'll set myself a few goals, who knows. Perhaps I'll roller skate around the UK and write the follow up to this book, ha ha.

4 comments:

  1. Get your roller skates out girl... I'd buy your book! (not joking you know!) x

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  2. When you've finished with Mr Priestly, you might consider comparing it with "Notes from a Small Island" by Bill Bryson; a book that made me laugh out loud in the dentist's waiting room.

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  3. I can see you traversing the roads on your roller skates now, lol. What you write on your blogs must make a good book already. Any other coming out, let us know. I`ll read it!

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  4. What ever you do - you should write a book, if it's half as entertaining as your blog then I'm up for buying it!

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