We live about five minutes from Teddington Lock on the river Thames.
As part of our daily constitution, we take the air and hit our local outdoor café, The Flying Cloud, for coffee and a slice of something homemade. It’s a great place for meetings especially when it’s bracing encouraging speedy decisions and a minimum of waffling.
The Boat House sits alongside with the informative Design Studio, Café and Chandlers neatly yet quietly displaying its reason for being.
Design Studio and Café are easily understood. Chandlers, I had to check: ‘A dealer in supplies and equipment for ships and boats’.
It started me thinking of proper jobs, professions, vocations and careers.
The temptation for every parent is to categorise the future for their children in terms of a respectable and stable profession. My mother introduced me to a friend after I’d been working in music for four years saying:” Well, at least you’re training to become a teacher”. News to me but it certainly made her feel better.
At school I was offered several opportunities from Master Baker to Adventurous Fireman especially when, having said I wanted to become a professional musician, their own point of reference only going as far as Top of the Pops.
Again, my dear dad offered a word of advice with the warning;” Nobody’s going to be that interested in a thirty-five-year-old folk singer!” Something I further heeded by becoming a session player and media composer. Sadly, neither of which could still be described as a proper job.
We lived in a very large house in Twickenham surrounded by Bankers, Solicitors and Accountants, all very respectable and easily defined. Tina, my actress wife, and I always felt that we were housesitting for our parents who would in time, return to take full possession and continue paying the bills.
When a good friend actually discovered we were together and intent on getting married asked what my father did, knowing our chosen and ephemeral activities. “Dave’s father is a Baptist Minister”.
Oh, well, that’s alright then, she replied. “The Church is a great leveller!”
I would have loved a title such as Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy. These seemed to be fine professions that offered all sorts of options by way of day-to-day vocation as well as infinite party small talk.
I discovered that one of the universities close by was doing a post grad M.A. in music technology and production. I also knew the guys who were running this so I called up to see if I could enrol despite the fact that I didn’t have a pre-degree or anything past school diplomas. “On one condition,” they said.
” You’d be responsible for heading up some of the lectures”. I know this would’ve please my dad, but I decided against it and showed him my Mercedes instead!
When explaining that you’re a musician, composer, producer it’s always followed by “And have we heard anything you’ve written?” Or “Who have you played with?” adding “Do you know anyone famous?”
I would always gird my loins before a party with the thought that I could make my job sound like the most entertaining or the most boring depending on my mood and if indeed I could be bothered.
Meanwhile at an age where most respectable jobs are terminated into a state of passive retirement, mowing the lawn and decorating the third bedroom, we, on the alternative side of measured employment, continue to work. It doesn’t stop because it’s what you really want to do and you really couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
We have some fine pioneers who are excitedly still grafting away towards their first hundred; wrinkled octogenarians with no sense of shame, respectability or ever giving in.
Happily, I don’t think I will ever get a proper job despite still wondering what it is I actually do.