Friday, 3 February 2017

Matchbox Memories

On the council estate in Southend-on-Sea in the 1970s money was tight Consequently there was none over to set me and my siblings up with trust funds. The princess mentality therefore passed me by and I've worked from an early age.

My first job was, yes a paper round at the age of 15.  Perhaps that's where I got my early bird habits from.  For six days a week I rose at 5am, literally got my hands very dirty from all the  newsprint, and was paid the princely sum of £3. I replaced that with a much cushier number whilst I was in sixth form.  I worked in the accounts office of a furniture shop where the white suited owner looked like a member of Showaddywaddy.  Many of my hard earned pennies were spent in the Golden Disc,  a record shop where Morrisey filmed one of his videos.  A lovely old chap in the second hand department befriended me and bought me a bottle of Charlie for my 18th birthday, the perfume much coveted by teenage girls of the time.  I always preferred the furniture up in his loft area to the new stuff in the showroom below.

At university I worked in student union bars during term time.  With hindsight I wished I'd gone travelling in my summer breaks but I wasn't as bold as now.  Instead I worked for two years at Matchbox.  Yes, in those days toys were made in places other than China.  Company buses collected workers from all over South East Essex and took us to the factory in Rochford where men in the foundry hung out of the window and leered at the lady workers as they arrived.   Sometimes there was a fight on the factory floor when romantic boundaries were crossed.  My first job was on a line of other students where we packed cars into boxes and listened to 'Young at Heart' by the Bluebells five times a day on Essex Radio.   My Walter Softy hands from a life of academia weren't up to the job and were cut to shreds.  We were the least productive workers in the factory and were split up by the end of the second week.

I was taken under the wing of the print department where I spent the first hour or so dispelling the myth that all students were snobs.  I've never been snotty. So  I rubbed along nicely with the full timers and earned decent productivity bonuses under their wings.  In my second year I returned to the fold by the supervisor with a big hug.  'We'll have this one back' she said.  On my last ever day I was taken to the pub and persuaded to down a bottle of wine in my half hour lunch break.  My final bonus suffered as a consequence.

In between chatting for England  which I'm good at to this day, I printed the sides of about a quarter of a million of these toffee vans. 'They'll be worth something in the future'.  one of my colleagues say. My doubts were well founded.  This one is selling for £2.95 on Ebay!

4 comments:

  1. From the same stable...job in a posh cheese shop from age 15 and then stints at M&S and a local insurance company in the holidays. Term time I used to make pizzas in the student union bar and work for gratis at a local special needs school every Friday afternoon. Teenogre started with a paper round at 15 too which was the first paid job he could get. Arilx

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    1. Posh cheese shop sounds good. I'd have been tempted to do some nibbling there! xx

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  2. My holiday jobs were at the local Mayor's Mansion House and hotels in the West Country. I seem to recall a lot of bed making.

    I still love Matchbox cars and vans.

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    1. I'm glad I escaped the bed making jobs. Not a chore that I relish. xx

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