He always calls me donkey

I started work in September 1974 and became a regular newspaper purchaser off the man at Balham Station who called everyone “John”. 

The thing you miss most about going to work are the lengthy school holidays.

Suddenly, you go from having had the only person of authority as your PE teacher, to having everyone as your boss.

If you’re the lowest in terms of seniority, you cannot tell anyone what you did on your school holidays – something you would have written about on your first day back at school after you’d covered your new text books with unwanted, normally distasteful, wallpaper..

You have no one to tell the only words of Spanish you learned on holiday were “I think my brake pads need replacing” (when actually you were trying to ask where the nearest chemist was); no one to tell about the third-degree burns you suffered because your mum had mis-read the “how to make your own sun cream” recipe; no one to tell of the singular lack of food served in a basket.

On my first day of work in September 1974, I stood on Balham Station, wearing my maroon suit with matching tie (this was 1974!), the only one peeling and holding a straw, almost life-sized, donkey tucked underneath my arm; I wasn’t to know I wouldn’t have a desk, let alone one to put a straw donkey on.

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