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Using my noodle / Taking initiative

The title of this post might sound a bit strange, but lots of people say “use your loaf” when they mean “take some initiative.” I like to make up phrases at times, so I came out with “Use your noodle,” when I once wanted Mr Bunny to do exactly this, and it kind of stuck. To me, if you unravelled a human brain, it would probably look like a really thick noodle. So there’s the reason behind the phrase.

Working-class beginnings

When I was thirteen, a chance encounter with a lady looking for a person to take on a paper round lead to me getting my first paid job. My parents didn’t believe in giving pocket money, or simply could not afford to do so. Either way, by being prompted to take that first step in taking on a bit of responsibility, I learnt to work as a team with my brother and our dad.

I’d put all the inserts in the papers. When I had enough to start delivering, my dad and brother would load up their bags. They’d start the route around our estate taking out the weekly rag to about 250 houses.  I’d later join them, posting through the neighbourhood doors. We got to learn the houses that had dogs pretty quick, and that if we valued our fingers we’d best release as swiftly as possible!

Our reward for our efforts was an envelope of cash. Usually, we earnt no more than about £12 for a couple of hours of work. Dad didn’t want the money, but he did want us to earn ours, so I split the wages 50/50 with my brother. We caught wind that another paper round on our estate was coming up for grabs, so we secured that too. It was for another weekly rag, back in the days where we had two free papers per week. So our work doubled but so did our pay. And as a young teen, I was happy earning between £10-12 a week, to put in my savings account.

By doing these paper rounds we got to know the neighbourhood pretty well, and we always delivered whatever the weather. Whilst living on that estate, I had some retired neighbours. They wanted some help cutting their grass. This was another opportunity to take on a little job in return for a bit of satisfaction plus some cash to add to my savings. I’m not particularly green-fingered, but it was easy enough pushing a Fly-mo around and gathering up the clippings. There’d be a drink on offer too, usually a can of Coca Cola. On a hot day, I’d be especially glad for that drink!

What these experiences taught me is that there are opportunities out there if we look. The hardest part sometimes is knowing where to look and who to ask. We are bombarded with so much information in this digital age, it’s like overload some times. In an old-school sense, often it’s better just keeping your ear to the ground and looking in the local rags, magazines and at good old-fashioned notice boards.

Just yesterday evening, I saw that our local rag was being delivered by a teenager and a woman. It was refreshing to see after a long period of not receiving the paper. I found it so positive that this younger girl was taking some initiative (even if prompted by parents/carers) to start her ‘career’. We can’t all be high-paid workers, but if we’re working, we’re keeping ourselves and not depending on the state.


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  1. Lovely post LB. I think it is a great thing for the young to get a job – it isn’t as easy for them now as when i was young. My eldest daughter had to work voluntarily in a charity shop for 6 mths to gain experience and then a stationary shop employed her over the xmas holidays and that advanced to be a sat job while she was in the 6 th form at school.
    I do hope you and your family are staying well

    • Thank you May, yes it seems like volunteer work is now the pre-requisite to getting a job for a lot of younger people. I feel sad for those who would’ve been taking exams this summer, as it’ll be hard for them to feel a sense of accomplishment without those pieces of paper, but I’m sure the resourceful ones will see it as an opportunity to start a career or continue their education regardless. We are all well thank you, and grateful for that during these uncertain times. Hope you and your loved ones are all keeping healthy too xxx

  2. Your post brought me back to my first job, distribution leaflets once a week. That was the only job available to me at fourteen and I remember all the hard work it was. But, like you, I was immensely proud that I was making my own money.
    And yes, it can be hard to see opportunities as many tend to be well-hidden. But when you find one, you feel on top of the world 😁


  3. pretty nice post and it comes back to young days) and also pushes to talk with kids)

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