Monday 14 May 2012

Monday Memories 16

I am almost catching up with myself in this series but this week I am being extra self - indulgent.
You see, on Friday this week, I am leaving my job in Sew Materialistic - I am taking extremely early retirement, lol.
I realise however, that I am unlikely to seek or secure further paid employment and I suppose I am about to experience another rite of passage......this has led me to thinking over my working life and I hope you'll forgive the indulgence.

I always wanted to be a teacher - however, due to circumstances, I left school at 16 with a bunch of O Levels, and joined the Civil Service. I was posted to the Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries for Scotland. I can hardly describe how exciting this was for a 16yr old........but I met some nice people.
After a year, in an unbelievable move, I returned to school!! It was a bit weird, all my pals were in the year above. However, I stuck in and left a year later armed with a clutch of Highers.
Despite a couple of offers from Universities, circumstances prevailed once more and guess what? - I joined the Civil Service! This time it was with the Department of Employment, in Edinburgh - I met some nice people. It was 1971.
I can sort of recall the Winter of discontent and have a memory of being allocated a personal supply of candles in case of power cuts. There were regular cuts and I recall evenings, still living at home with my folks, all huddled under duvets, playing Scrabble.......
I married in 1974, and in 1975 we transferred (Civil Service speak) to Worcester - I was still with the Dept of Employment but I was about to have a bit of a wake up call. I was posted to an Unemployment Benefit Office on promotion, and met a lot of people, some nice, some not!
This is the job I always think of as my proper job, my career job, if you will. I was there through high levels of unemployment, trained in the Birmingham office that dealt with British Leyland, and achieved another promotion, eventually becoming manager of the office with about 40 staff. In my twenties, this was not always an easy time.
I re-married in 1980, and when baby number 2 came along in '84, I decided to resign. Long career breaks had not yet become common in those days. I sometimes wonder how our lives would have been different had I kept on working, but I would not change a thing.
When the kids were tiny tots, I became a Tupperware lady - needs must and all that. One of my best friends told me much later just how obsessed I had become with plastic boxes! I like to think I had sales flair!!
Then followed a spell as a child minder. I met some nice babies.
In the approach to Christmas 1988 I got a temporary job with Marks & Spencer, and was kept on in the New Year. I think this was my first experience of having a woman boss - strict but fair. I have a nightmare memory of ordering way too many shoes using a new fangled hand held computer thingy called a Psion. Oops!
In 1990, we returned to Scotland and settled in Ayr.
I found work with the local council and have to say it was a pretty horrible experience. I worked in Housing Benefits, later to be called Unified Benefits, and enjoyed such highlights as rent - collecting door to door. But I met some really nice people.
I lasted there for 10 years and leaving in January 2000 probably saved my sanity.
I was rather idle for the next couple of years apart from a few spells of invigilating school exams - thanks to our friend Ken.
 I rather enjoyed this, it gave me an insight into working in a school, maybe teaching wouldn't have been the right move all those years ago..........
2004 was spent in Curacao and in Spring 2004 I started my P & Q classes, back in Ayr.. However, those pesky circumstances prevailed once more and I approached Marie, who had taken over Sew Materialistic, our local fabric shop in Ayr. I started in the October, and by January 2005 had settled into a part time routine.
I sometimes wish I had jotted down all the funny things that we have experienced together over the last 8 years - there is nothing so funny, frustrating or unpredicatable as the Public!!
It's not a big shop, we are a small team, and we have had some great laughs along the way. Once again I have met and worked with nice people!! I will miss the banter.  (The playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks.)
But, it's time to move on once again.
I will continue with my classes - you see, in the end I did become a teacher - I have truly experienced what it is like to pass on knowledge to others and marvel at the way others grasp that knowledge and run with it. I hope to keep going with that as long as I can.
In the meanwhile, I will be spending time with Ava, and hope to indoctrinate her into the world of sewing. Wish me luck.


  1. What a lovely post Shiela - you write so well. I'm glad you achieved your wish to teach!
    Good luck in your retirment, although I think you will not be resting much!!!

  2. What interesting jobs you've had. I often think that planning out a career is a useless exercise, as circumstances change and often life goes off in a completely different direction. I try to tell my teenagers to chill over this but they think that I am being flippant! I hope that you enjoy the next stage in your adventure. Di xo

  3. Don't consider it retirement, consider it a new and developing life skill - sharing and embracing your family and friends from a different perspective

  4. If you are spending time with that little cutie there will be no retirement! Have fun! And hope you will continue to meet really nice people (er hum like me - hehe!) online!

    Thanks for the CV!

  5. That was a brilliant post, Sheila. Congratulations on entering the next stage in your life - not retirement - but time for some new adventures. Now bugger off to Australia and make sure you keep us updated (somehow) about how great it is so we can live vicariously through you.

  6. Welcome to retirement Sheila! Now the real work starts :-) enjoy your time with your loved ones xx

  7. Judging by your history, you could go back to work at any time!

    It is funny the twists and turns our life takes isn't it. Especially having it all in one post to review like that.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. You have had such an interesting career. In the end it is mostly about the people you meet along the way, the work challenges all melt away. Enjoy this next phase, I expect you will just end up with another project or two and of course, there is that cute baby.

  9. What a great post - I really enjoyed learning about what you did before you became a P&Q teacher! Ava is gorgeous - how long before she discovers the delights of granny's button box?!!

  10. what a fabulous post Sheila. You will 'retire' and wonder how you ever had time to work!! Ava is gorgeous

  11. What a CV!! My current employment of 8 years (& second job) is in Housing Benefits at Leicester City Council. My P&Q is my stress relief!
    It won't be long before Ava discovers Nana's button box. For me it was my mum's DMC threads & cross-stitch pattern book.

  12. I think we can call it Partial Retirement! You will love your granny-sitting times and spreading the love as you do.

    Enjoy your last week - I bet you'll end up spending more time, and money in the shop after you have 'gone'! xxx

  13. Enjoy your 'retirement', I'm sure your new occupation will keep you as entertained as the others, but in whole new ways!

    Guess a woman can really have too many shoes though, huh?

  14. A great post Sheila, I really enjoyed learning about your really varied and interesting careers. Congratulations on your "retirement", I'm sure you will really enjoy the next phase, especially your trip to Oz.



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