Curriculum Vitae (Hocus Pocus)
Inevitably, my time as a Manchester University player came to end, and I left the club by mutual consent when my contract ended.
Somewhat bizarrely, looking back on it, I joined what appeared to be an obscure and tiny religious cult in the middle of nowhere (deepest, darkest Lincolnshire), dabbling in some rather questionable therapy / witchcraft.
My role was primarily as Administrator with responsibility for making sense of the almost entirely lacking paperwork, contracts, and financial arrangements of the company (?) / sole practitioner / lead sorceress. Bed and board were included in my pay, which meant I didn’t get paid much at all, and had to do a lot of household chores on a strict rota, along with the other, er, residents.
I got kicked out about six months later for dropping acid at the weekend. Somehow, with a couple of band mates, we cleaned ourselves up and managed to persuade a friendly estate agent to rent us out a four-bedroomed semi-detached house that had one careful previous owner (the local vicar), that was ideally located opposite a big pub and just up the road from the local drug dealers.
We spent eighteen months there, mostly on the dole, getting our musical act into gear. Completely by chance (we put up a card in the local Spa shop window asking for a “chilled out lamppost”), we met a nomadic (on the run) alcoholic junkie who could actually sing, write songs, and also played a mean guitar. We rehearsed every day in that house (pity our poor neighbours), recorded a couple of decent demo tapes (got to number one in the local newspaper charts), and played some wild gigs that were generally pretty well received.
The end was nigh, though, as it always is. I’d got a job to help pay for gear, and fell madly in love with one of my new co-workers. Euro 96 appeared, and we all took a break from music to enjoy Ing-er-land’s latest heartbreak efforts. Our junkie friend wasn’t into football, or staying around, and one day he was gone. My love interest left, too,
This was the catalyst for me to focus on work for the first time in my life, as a coping mechanism for loss, as much as anything else. The more I worked, the less loss I felt. I couldn’t get enough of it.
I started at the bottom. Literally. The job I applied for was Personal Carer in a Residential Home. I assumed that it meant psychological care, and didn’t pay much attention on my first morning shift when I shadowed another carer who was wiping bottom after bottom (and more) of all these frail, elderly folks. Anyway, I got into it (and my new co-worker), and found that, yes, there was a quite a degree of psychological care involved, too, if you had the time, skills and inclination. Unbelievably (or so it seemed to many in the industry at the time, when frail, elderly people find they have something worth living for (a friend to talk to, something fun to do, something like a day out to look forward to), they’re much more capable of getting themselves dressed, feeding themselves, staying continent.
Of course, many carers had none of those things, and in fact, got very little psychological care themselves in their own lives. Often it was just a continuation of the sadistic brutality from their school days. But I found myself actually enjoying the job despite the low pay, and often quite unpleasant working conditions. But I enjoyed the people - the camaraderie and comradeship of the staff and residents. We really were all in it together
That said, there was only so much arse wiping I could do before I got fed up with it. I’d done everything and more I’d been asked to do and applied to be a Senior Carer and even a Care Services Manager (responsible for running the shifts, and the home in the absence of the Home Manager). But I wasn’t successful - too little experience, I was told. Which might have been true. I’d only been there a year. But I suspect it might also have been because I was too much of a threat to the darker side of what was going on. The manager was taking money from at least one of the more severely demented residents, and some of the staff were in on it, too. At least, that’s what I’d been told.