Reading about Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to pay all under-18s a minimum £10 an hour if Labour return to power allowed me to take a stroll down memory lane.
All the way back to 1986 when, aged 17, I got my first part-time job. It was only a summer role - early July to mid September - collecting rubbish from bins at Exeter University. Sounds glamorous, I know, and for it I was paid the princely sum of £2.15 an hour.
My millennials were stunned when I first recounted this tale.
Ben pulled a massive face when I told him I emptied bins. He hates the thought of even touching the rubbish bin, let alone opening it up and putting his own trash in it. Hence, in true teenage fashion, he gets around this by just leaving his rubbish strewn around the place.
He also pulled a massive face at the fact I was paid £2.15 an hour. ‘I wouldn’t get out of bed for that amount,’ he stated. ‘You struggle to get out of bed anyway at the best of times,’ I deadpanned back.
Anyway, there were numerous benefits of working as a university porter.
Apart from the cash, I enjoyed free use of the sports facilities and I could have all the posters students couldn’t be bothered to take home with them at the end of their year’s drinking, sorry studying.
I appreciate the next sentence not seem hugely exciting, but this was 1986 so bear with me. Some students had left behind their Marillion and U2 posters! I was a huge fan of both bands - stifle those laughs - so was delighted, deliriously so, to save those posters from the rubbish pile.
Both my kids have part-time jobs. I’m glad for a number of reasons - three of them being 1) it gets them off their screens, 2) it gives them the chance to earn some cash, and 3) it allows them to liaise with adults who aren’t their parents, parents’ friends, or family members.
There’s a 4) for Ben - it gets him out of bed.
Ben works at the Co-op and is paid £8.38 an hour, which is a good amount for a 17-year-old to earn. If he stacks shelves after 10pm his hourly rate rises to over a tenner.
Ellen, 15, has two part-time jobs. One is a waitressing role in a tea rooms (£5.50 per hour) and the other is picking up horse poop.
Now, how much would YOU want to be paid to traipse around a field pock-marked with large dollops of dung armed with a spade and a wheelbarrow?
The leader of the opposition will be delighted to know Ellen is paid £10 an hour for filling barrows with equine faeces.
She actually does this for two hours a week, so each month she collects £80 just for picking up poop.
I’m proud of her - not every millennial would do that, and in all weathers too.
Tales of Sam Fox and Bon Jovi
I also vividly remember one student had left behind a poster of topless model Sam Fox. Now, with all the PC strides society has made, I cannot believe a single uni student would have a poster of a page 3 girl on his (or, it has to be considered, her) bedroom wall. But this was 1986 and life in the UK was vastly different to today.
In my second year of A levels, I got a second part-time job - working in the fast-food restaurant at a leisure centre.
This was far harder work, and an extra annoyance was I had to wear my hair in a net to avoid it flapping in someone’s milkshake or hot dog.
Bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Whitesnake and the wonderful Guns ‘N’ Roses were riding the waves of huge popularity at the time. I was a big fan, and grew my hair long. The back bit was permed, so I resembled the footballer Chris Waddle with his (in)famous flowing mullet. I probably looked ridiculous.
Still, I could eat as much ice cream as I wanted - which was a lot – and I learnt a valuable life lesson: when in KFC or McDonald’s, always place your rubbish in the bins provided. Don’t leave it for the staff to do. It’s good manners. I once cleared up such rubbish, and it wasn’t much fun - certainly not for £2.30 an hour.
And no, I didn’t take the Sam Fox poster. I always preferred Linda Lusardi ...