Where to start?

You know that thing where you have absolutely loads of things to do but you don’t do anything because you just don’t know where to start.  Well, that’s what’s going on with me.  There are house-y things to do: school uniforms to wash, as well as dinner dishes, and the living-room needs sorting before somebody is killed by an avalanche of shoes, schoolbags and empty water bottles.

It could happen; I remember a similar catastrophe a few years back.  I think it happened in my bedroom and involved the 17 pairs of slippers (which I seem to have inexplicably accrued whilst only having 3 pairs of outdoor shoes, and to be honest, one of those is really a pair I ‘borrowed’ from my daughter and ‘forgot’ to give back), a stack of Killer Sudoku magazines and Terry Pratchett’s entire back catalogue.  Although, I might have dreamt it.

I’ve been promising myself I’d sort out my wardrobe for a while now: about 14 years!  I suspect that if I got Time Team in to do the job for me they’d be fascinated by the suppositions they could make as each new stratum is revealed.  It might go like this:

Tony: As you can see, Phil is very carefully dusting away the topsoil so as to preserve the integrity of the finds and …oooh!  I think he’s got something interesting.  He’s looking very excited.

Phil: Come and have a look at this.  Don’t come across many of these …

Tony: What is it?

Phil: It’s a jacket …with shoulder pads.  Made from sponge.  You can tell it’s an early example, because the sponge isn’t even covered by any kind of fabric.  And the jacket has the sleeves rolled up.

Tony: Is that significant?

Phil: Very!  It pre-dates the age of good taste.

Tony: Has anything else turned up?

Phil: Nothing as interesting, but we’ve observed a curious thing.  The garments get smaller and smaller, the further down we go.  LOOK AT THIS. (Holds up red label Levi 501s.)  Can’t be more than a 28”.  Fascinating when you compare it to these nylon tracksuit pants we found near the top layer.

Tony: Yes, the Levis would fit down one leg.

Phil: Exactly!

Tony: I think I’m recognising some mediaeval items there.  There are at least three garments that Baldrick would have worn.

Phil: No, Tony.  That’s her newest stuff!

(Cut to both men, shaking their heads in disbelief.)

So that’s why I haven’t got Time Team to do it, despite them being the experts on excavation.  Also, I’m worried they might find some decaying king or other under my Cream vests and the T-shirt with Garfield on it.

There are other things I should be doing.  I should be mending the fence that had the middle blown out of it last week.  Strong winds, not explosives.  Actually, that would be a really good place to start because next door’s children keep wandering around my ‘garden’ (Inverted commas used because that’s another job on the list) and inviting their friends. I assume they’re playing explorers.  I also assume they’ve left the garden, but I can’t be 100% certain of that because they’re shorter than the grass.

There are other jobs I won’t bore you with.  Did you say ‘Too late?’  Well, anyway, I have a long list.  Or I would have a long list if I had written a list, but I haven’t got around to it.  Maybe THAT’s where I should start.  Better go; I’ve got a list to put off writing!


‘Will write for food’

So, this is the thing.  I’m 47 and I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up.  When I was very little I wanted to be a number of things that begin with the letter ‘a’: architect, artist, archaeologist, apoet.  Oh alright, the list wasn’t as exclusive as I’d have you believe, but I really did want to be those things.  Apart from a brief period when I was about seven and I wanted to be a nun; the outfit seemed pretty cool, my teacher was a nun and she was lovely and I’d just made my First Holy Communion and the ‘holy’ hadn’t worn off.  Oh, and there was that time I wanted to be a Gorgon and tried to magic myself into one using the contents of every bottle from the bathroom cupboard but merely succeeded into turning my mother into a banshee.  But I didn’t end up being any of those things; not even the Gorgon.

This is my work-life in a list, with some of these things having happened simultaneously and some being ‘on the side’ so to speak:

Trainee mechanic (work scheme*)

V.A.T. clerk (temporary*)

Recording studio lackey

Jewellery maker (painting wooden miniatures which someone else made into necklaces etc.)

Pencil for hire (portraits mostly)

Pen for hire (poems, wedding invitations, seating plans, sundries)

Librarian (temporary*)

Finance clerk (several different places)

Health Education Officer

Freelance writer (Published: 1 short story, 3 articles: No, you shut up!)

Mother (It’s work!!)

Supply teacher

Supply TA

Supply teacher again


And that brings us to here.  A few things that were unpaid, I have omitted.  And today, I sent my resignation letter to my supply agency so I suppose I am now back to just ‘mother’ (still work!).  I have assessed my bankable workplace skills, which are few:

Good grammer and speling (just kidding)

I.T. skills (Office packages, mostly.)

Good in a team

Capable of working independently

Hard worker

Can feign people-skills if forced (I might stop writing this on job applications)

You see? Not a lot to work with. 


On the other hand, I also have these skills:

Can write poems in many styles, on many topics, to order

Can write lyrics but play guitar really badly

Can write in an academic style so it seems as though I know what I’m talking about

Can draw pictures in pencil, fabric pens or ink

Can paint, but not amazingly

Can decorate cakes as long as I can sit down to do it (I don’t copy – I like to innovate)

Can paint pictures on icing, using food colouring (Not a massive call for paintings that melt in a warm room, to be honest)

Can turn things into a pun to the point where you might want to punch me in the face (Also not a big call for this skill apart from on Twitter)

Can make toy cats out of old socks (Alright, technically that should be ‘Have made a toy cat out of old socks’ – He’s all black and his name is Sockrates)

Can be very creative (Currently working on a special creative project involving old eggshells – I will blog this when it’s done. You’re excited now aren’t you!) in fact, CAN’T STOP being creative!

Can usually save you the bother of going for a dictionary because I am a proper cleverclogs with words

So, what do you make of this?  Is there a paying job in this mess?

I’m trawling through the job websites looking for something clerical but I haven’t any recent experience and I’d love to go back to library work but sometimes I wouldn’t be able to access low shelves unless I simply fell on the floor and I’d probably just drop all the books and get shushed by the other librarians.  I’ve written a book for young children and I’m just starting work on the illustrations but from what I read it’s THE most difficult genre to get published.

So let me pitch you some ideas:

  • If anybody wants to pay me to tweet for them I can guarantee** them 300 followers in just 3 years.  It doesn’t sound like many but I have a very strict quality-control policy.  
  •  Do you know anybody who wants a nice drawing of a hedgehog (no idea why I picked ‘hedgehog’ – psychologists, feel free to analyse) or a bag with their favourite cat drawn on it?
  • Should I stand outside Aldi with a sign saying, ‘Will rhyme for money’? 
  • Should I just go back to square one, empty out the bathroom cupboard and turn myself into a Gorgon? 

All suggestions welcome.


*This was the 1980s – thank you, Maggie Thatcher!

** can’t guarantee this but it’s where I’m at now