I started a new job on Tuesday. It’s my 25th job – always the new girl.
I’ve moved around a lot, and sometimes I’ve held down more than one job at a time. But still – 25.
Over the 44 years that I’ve been working for money, that averages out at 1 year 9 months per job. And I’m not even sure that I’ve remembered all the jobs. Everything from filling shelves at Boots the chemist, to being a Director of a limited company – via insurance, teaching, making sandwiches for Greggs the bakers, and being an Avon lady.
But I feel like I’ve been the new girl since I was ten. It was 1971, we moved from Hull to Sheffield and I started a new school.
I never really know what to say when people ask me where I’m from. I was born in Hull, but my mother is Scottish. I don’t really remember Hull very well, and the bits that I do remember have mostly been knocked down. I left Sheffield in 1980, aged 19 – so I only lived there nine years, and I never really felt like it was home either.
And I’ve been nomadic ever since – Devon, Shetland, Essex, Northumberland, the Republic of Ireland and West Yorkshire. Literally north, south, east and west – and in the middle.
And that’s not counting 3 years living on a ship. I really will have to do a blog about the ships.
However, I’m proud to be a Yorkshire lass, even though I left Yorkshire in 1980 and it took me 30 years to get back here. I’m back home. I’ve lived in this house for 6 years now – nearly a record.
I think I’m supposed to tell you how hard it is, being the new girl. But to be brutally honest, I don’t know that it is. Or rather, I don’t know any different.
You turn up, no-one knows your name, you know no-one. Everyone was managing perfectly well before you arrived, and you know (because you move on so often) that they’ll manage perfectly well after you’ve left. So in the period between starting and leaving you do the best you can. You try to remember people’s names; you don’t expect anyone to remember yours. You try to understand the way they do things, knowing that if you get it wrong it’ll be amusing for them – well, what do you expect, she’s from up north, or she’s English, or… Because of course, the way it’s done is the way it’s always done, unless you move around so much that you know it isn’t.
Moving around has changed the way I talk – I speak with a Standard English accent, but with odd phrases picked up hither and yon. I had to lose the Hull accent – it was bullied out of me in Sheffield. And I learnt not to use the Scottish vernacular that was my birthright, as no-one understood what I was saying, they just thought I was odd for saying it. Those phrases are still in my head, but when I say them out loud my English accent mangles them, and even my mother thinks it’s odd.
I use the short ‘a’ sound (bath, path) of the north of England, but in the north of England people think I sound posh. I was told once that I sound too educated – and not in a good way.
Down south they know I’m from up north the moment I open my mouth. A man in Hampshire once tried to explain teapots to me…
Tuesday went well. I met someone from Hull, which was nice.
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