Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Work, work, work...

It's good to enjoy the simple pleasures in life: one of them for me recently has been the pictured Forgotten English calendar I found in the January sales. It has all kinds of discoveries lying in wait for fans of the quirky and strange.

Last Monday's entry was more thought provoking than usual as it highlighted all kinds of strange occupations found in the early days of the census. As well as showing us a snapshot of occupations long gone, it seems being a little subversive when we can has deeper roots too. Perhaps declaring Jedi Knight as your religion on the census return isn't quite so original after all.

It got me musing on how we spend most of our lives letting work define us. Often one of the early questions when meeting someone for the first time is so what do you do? The idea being to seek out the common ground with the people we're talking to. How much more refreshing (and enjoyable) it would be to be asked so what do you like to do?

When NAH and I first met we had occupations designed to make other people's eyes glaze over when meeting them: electronics and electrical engineer for him and systems analyst for me. Yawn. So we invented 'alternative careers' which we'd use when going out to parties and suchlike.

NAH alternated between designing shapes for dog biscuits and putting cones out on motorways - this was in the days well before John Major and the cones hotline - and I was a crazy paving designer. We were constantly amazed by how seriously these occupations were taken before our joke was rumbled and there was laughter all round.

Nowadays we don't work in the conventional sense and it's well before the age retirement is decreed for us, so I often see people struggling to slot us into the 'correct' pigeonhole when they meet us. The one marked Bloody Lucky will do, but I'm also finding the idea of using one or two of the occupations on the pictured list quite tempting ;)

13 comments:

  1. I think I may have to have a career change after reading this. Though I can't decided if "Turnip Sheperd" or "Invisible Net Maker" would be best. Some may say "26 Years An Imbecile" would be more accurate! :)

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  2. Hmm. I think I would like to be...an admirer of clouds.

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  3. Helen - those were two of the ones which appealed to me too :)

    Susan - that's such a good idea *rushes to window*

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  4. I might have to think more about my 'career'. People do like to pidgeon hole though. I find if I want someone to stop nattering to me on the bus or in the hairdressers the best cure is to tell them that I'm a computational physicist or high-performance-programmer, and the eyes quickly glaze over. Sadly though, I do like conversation... I need to come up with something exciting!

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  5. Examiner of underclothing is a bit, erm, suspect though!

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  6. Invisible net making sounds challenging. Now falling into that 'Bloody Lucky' bracket too but when working as a careers adviser, revealing my job inevitably led to remarks like 'Give us a job" or 'You can tell me what I should be doing!" :)

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  7. This is a great post. I'm not sure I would have wanted to be an "Emasculator" or a "Sampler of drugs", though I could probably do a good job at "Running about".

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  8. Colourist of Artificial Fish!? Brilliant!

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  9. Jay & A+E - welcome!

    It's good fun isn't it? I'm sure plenty of us are good at Running about Jay ;)

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  10. Oops, sorry Anna didn't mean to leave you out. So experience the same thing as e.g. Doctors when meeting people!

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  11. Tonia - it does make me chuckle that one! Perhaps one of the other ones takes your fancy for your 'alternative' career?

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  12. I like the idea of being a turnip shepherd - sounds like a very restful occupation.

    Lecturer in acting is also an annoying one to have to own up to - no-one seems to understand that this means you are paid to teach adult professionals so everyone expects you to be willing to run their church/village/school amateur drama club for free. I tended to give a vague answer and then find something very important to do elsewhere - always wished I had the courage to say "my consultancy fees are ... ".

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  13. Juliet - nice to see you! Everyone expected us to fix their computers - it looks like we all try to get advice from others for free!

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