The feeling of ‘school’s out for summer’, takes on a special significance when it’s your last day of high school. Ahead lie a few long hot months, and for many, the first tentative toe into full-time employment with the ‘the summer job’.
Many young people find work in the food and travel sectors; from cafes and restaurants, to campsites and hotels. Often the summer job is a key milestone on the road to adulthood and a proper job. You’re given responsibilities and tasks and you get to learn some real life skills and experiences. And you get a proper wage, probably not much, but more than you’ve ever had before.
In my day, many jobs came about by word of mouth, friends of friends, or people your parents knew. Of course today, there’s the internet, plenty of advice, and the whole process is much more organised. You can even work at Harrods.
I had quite a few over my youth; from warehouse picker for a chain of newsagents to call centre worker for the AA. But perhaps the most memorable, and certainly the most fun, was in a chip shop in the summer of 1989 in Lyme Regis, Dorset.
The Cobb Gate Fish Bar
My dad had set it up, ‘why don’t you and a pal come down here and work for the summer?’. It even included use of the flat above the shop; one room with lilos on bread crates for beds, and no bath or shower. But to teenage me, we had our own flat. And so we did what teenage boys do, we worked hard and then partied with the locals in the town’s many pubs; halcyon ‘daze’ indeed.
So what did I learn? Well I learned how to cook fish and chips properly in boiling hot dripping. I also learned how to make a mean curry sauce, cash up a till, and deal with the public. I also had a great time with a mate, my dad. But best of all, I found having the keys to a chip shop suddenly made you the most popular person in the bar at closing time.
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