Bit of this, bit of that, not quite enough of the other. That’s my working life in a skittering nutshell.
I am sitting in the car driving to one of the bits. A young woman pops up on the radio to elucidate my post-redundancy life. She is called Emma Rosen and she is a guest on Saturday Live, the BBC Radio 4 magazine programme that occasionally uplifts but more often infuriates.
As I spin along the A64, Emma explains that she didn’t much like a job she was doing, so she decided to do 25 jobs before she hit 25. Many of these ‘jobs’ were more in the way of work experience, but she did manage to hit her target.
Emma says on her website that what I shall call her “try-before-you-buy” job scheme ranged from “archaeology in Transylvania, tour guiding amid violent protests in Venezuela and investigative journalism with a national newspaper”.
She also had a go at alpaca farming in Cornwall. And, yes, the alpaca spits, apparently; as does life sometimes.
Emma is a smart woman and won a book deal out of her experiment. Having passed that birthday, she is now a published author and a sort of millennial motivational speaker. She is also an expert in people who do a bit of this and a bit of that. As I have a bitty life, my ears pricked up.
Many young people, Emma says, will have four or five careers in their working lifetime. That’s careers and not jobs. The portfolio career will become the norm.
And not only young people. That mix-and-match approach arose for me after redundancy hit at the age of 58. Nowadays when I tell people about my part-time package sellotaped into a sort of whole – the journalism lecturing, the freelance writing, and working for the Press Association – they think that sounds like a fine arrangement. And perhaps it is, although one lacking the security of one regular job with a regular wage.
Last term I had three-and-half jobs: two lecturing gigs, plus the freelance work and two days editing on the Irish newspaper. Today is the first of the non-Christmas days; first day of the diet; first non-drinking day in a week or so.
My wife has gone back to work, leaving me home alone to arrange next Monday’s lectures and organise an interview for a feature. Oh, and to prevaricate yet again about sending off the latest novel to an agent suggested by a writer friend (one who is still being published).
Writing more novels was my first post-redundancy money-creation scheme. This worked so well that the other week I received a payment from the US for £30 or something. Still, a hopeful fool with a laptop and a half-baked idea or two never gives up. Perhaps today I’ll write the synopsis to go with the excerpt printed out before Christmas.
Emma Rosen shows that a bit of lateral thinking can go a long way. I admire her neat solution to not having a job she liked. Sadly, I have neither time nor energy to write a book called something like Three-and-half Things To Do Before You Finally Manage to Retire (Whenever The Bloody Hell That Is).
My new life is rackety, but now I do things that would have seemed unimaginable in the past, including standing in front of a roomful of students. Which is what I will be doing at 9am on Monday. I’d better look over my notes.