After completing my Graphic Design degree at Blackpool and the Fylde College and being awarded a 2.1 BA(hons) from Lancaster Univeristy it was time to find a full time job. I’d already done a newspaper round in my early teens and worked at ‘Nostalgia Tea Rooms’ as a kitchen porter since I was 14 and through my degree, a real job now had to be found.
I had been to a few interviews since leaving university but I finally got a job in Leicester. A ‘Junior Graphic Designer’, the salary wasn’t that great or anything like what I had been told by my tutors but it was a start. I moved there on my own and here are some memories from the time I was there, news about how the job went on is at the end of this post.
I only lived in an independent tiny flat, the rent wasn’t that much and the bills like electric and rates were paid by the landlord. It was downstairs with a bedroom, lounge, tiny bathroom and triangular kitchen, it was small but good enough for me. It did have a shower though and sometimes I cooked a really good ‘Toad in the Hole’ obviously only for me.
Due to living on my own I had more disposable income and at the beginning of my working life I only had my graduate debt, it was time to treat myself. I remember buying a new television, being new to this I never gave any thoughts to actually getting it into my flat. I had to pull the box apart in the doorway as it wouldn’t go through in the box, also as I couldn’t lift the television out of the box I had to break down all the polystyrene at the bottom, I made a right mess and it required a lot of effort. Eventually I managed to get it into the lounge, I can’t remember what I sat on to watch it but at least I had a TV.
Being the ground floor flat of a semi-detached house it was facing the road, only about six foot to the pavement. I had a bay window with a lovely yellow net on it but I could see and hear everyone who walked past, luckily the bedroom was behind the lounge so at least I could sleep. On match days thousands of people walked past my window to go to ‘The Walker’s Stadium’, the Leicester City football ground as it was named then, it was almost like they were walking through my lounge. I wish I’d gone one day, just for the atmosphere, I also wish I’d gone to watch the ‘Tigers’ but I never got round to it.
Most weekends I walked into the city to go shopping, I didn’t always have money but I enjoyed browsing. One day I decided to buy a new coat, I can’t remember the name of the shop but it was a brand new one located right in the centre of the city. I bought a long black one, I must have walked in and out of the shop three or four times, there were so many alarms on the coat that the shop worker couldn’t find them all, finally though I managed to leave. The only reason I remember all this is because George hated the coat, she said I looked like a flasher, well that’s what she thought anyway, I didn’t keep it for long after that.
Whilst living in Leicester I learnt to drive, this was because I was relying on other people to get to work and I also finally had the money to afford it. My two hour weekly lessons were uneventful but it was my test that remains in my memory. It took place in winter, I forget which month but there was ice on the ground. I managed to do my three point turn and drived around satisfactory but when we returned to the test centre something was happening.
Just after we’d pulled out of the car park one of the instructors who was working on his badges had fallen over. He was getting into the car with his examiner when he slipped backwards on the ice and most likely knocked himself out. Whatever happened it was serious as he’d been on the floor since we left and was still being attended to by the ambulance.
The reverse parking I was going to do for my second manoevour couldn’t be done. The examiner instead decided to get me to drive down the road and park up. He said I’d passed the rest so if I could do the last one I’d pass. He got me to reverse around a right angled corner, I’d only done sweeping corners before so when I got round I was about four feet from the kerb. I didn’t panic though, I pulled forward and reversed next to it. I finished about five inches away perfectly straight. I’d done enough, success. Passing this test really helped with my future jobs.
One of the only good memories at work was watching the World Cup on a banked temporary stand located in the main entrance. This was made by the people who worked in the workshop. We also had breakfast at half time as most of the matches were happening in the early morning. We had bacon and sausage buns with a cup of tea and these were great and a good social time with my colleagues. This was an amazing thing to see and luckily the company was doing well then. I wish I’d had a smart phone when this happened so you could see it, there were about 30 flip up seats and a big projection screen.
I won’t say much about the end of my job but all I will say is that after 20 Months of working, sometimes till 4am in the morning, I was called into the office and was asked to clear my desk and leave within the hour. I’d been made redundant in my first job at just 23. I believe due to the abruptness of this, it was something to do with other workers leaving to start a new company, not my performance, I can’t prove this but it would have been nice to know that this was the reason I was booted out. I’d never even had an appraisal in my time there so if they were unhappy with me it was never communicated.
To say this destroyed my passion for design would be an understatement. I returned home and knew in my heart of hearts that I would never be a designer again. All the promises etc had been rubbish and I knew that if you didn’t like working more hours after work than you did in the day they would just find somebody else.
I knew I would never be taken advantage of again. A lesson in life well and truly learnt, luckily at an early age.