Working in Swindon


Working in Swindon

Like Sean Lock I had an early career in journalism.

I was a paper boy.

I had a rigorous interview

“Have you got a bike?”

“A Raleigh Trent Tourist” I replied, “Three speed”.

Hoping to impress with my knowledge of all things cycling.

“Start tomorrow, 6 o’clock, don’t be late”.

And I wasn’t, although it wouldn’t last.

All the canvas bags for the rounds were laid out for the delivery boys

(I don’t recall any girls and I would have done!)

The papers were stacked by street and house number.

The street name written on the first paper for the street

Beechcroft Road, Merton Avenue (Nancy Hooper and the Spackmans),

Bradley Avenue, Cricklade Road (Dorothy Benham), Wheeler Avenue,

Jefferies Avenue,

Marsland Road, Headlands Grove and back to base.

It was a hard lesson to realise that at the age of 12

I wasn’t cut out for a journalistic career.

First came the overconfidence.

Not looking at the numbers but trusting to memory.

Then someone cancelled and everyone after that got the wrong paper.

Next, I just couldn’t get up

Until the newsagent angrily knocked the door

and my mother “encouraged” me to go to work

Then the complaints.

The quickest way to finish your round was to hurdle the garden walls

Leaving the gates at the start and finish open

Run for your bike and off.

Jefferies Avenue had low walls – easy!

Except at one house they would hammer on the window as I ran past

That got me the sack instead of the bag