Over the years I have had several jobs, apart from cartooning.
My first ever job was during the school holidays working in the Bally shoe shop in Hampstead as a callow 16 year old. Quite what the well-heeled celebs of NW3 thought of being served by a lack-lustre, spotty, long haired schoolboy, I suppose I’ll never know. As I was into the prog-rock band, Yes, at the time I was quite excited when guitarist Steve Howe came in. Unfortunately he was too busy to give me guitar lessons. Even then I was cartooning, and the manageress and staff were quite excited by the full colour cartoon strip depicting them all in various hilarious predicaments that I drew on an A1 sheet of board. As far as I know that early example of my work still languishes in some back garage or cupboard in Heath Street.
Building on my extensive retail experience I decided to aim for the top and my next school holiday job was with Harrods. I remember the selection interview vividly – the girl was simply parroting all the questions, terms and conditions with absolutely no expression in her voice. I must have been the thirtieth person she had seen that morning alone. The group of students working at Harrods that year were an excitingly eclectic bunch. There was the upper crust master of one upmanship, immaculately dressed at all times and a dead ringer for Leslie Phillips from the Carry On films.
We had to have lessons in special classrooms on how to use the old credit card swipe machines. A very tall girl named Alison joined me in the ‘Leisure Man’ department where we set about having a real hoot serving customers and wrestling with the arcane credit card sanctioning system. The manager of the department was a sleek lounge lizard who flirted with everything in a skirt.
One of the most memorable things about Harrods were the underground passageways where all the stock was kept. This was like a world that could only be described by Terry Pratchett or Iain Banks, so other-worldly it was. Every long, dark cobwebby corridor was named after the nearest road above. I had to make numerous trips to get stock and got frighteningly lost sometimes. Even weirder, and the sort of thing you only find in fiction or films, there was a permanent resident caretaker of this labyrinthine dungeon and, like Quasimodo, he was deformed, having obviously suffered some sort of chemical accident as suggested by his grey melting face with only one eye. He would always scurry away when someone approached. A weird and yet wonderful time.
Apart from these periods, I held down a Saturday job in a televison rental shop, spent five weeks in a photographic studio and did a couple of weeks in a dog kennels.
But none of these, of course, was my ideal job.
My ideal job, apart from cartooning, would simply to be imparting brilliant ideas, from my lofty hammock in the sun, to hungry media types, for which I would be paid lifelong royalties. A passive income for a little inspiration.
So if anyone knows of an outlet for this most realistic of ambitions, just let me know!
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