“Work is the curse of the drinking classes” – Oscar Wilde.
Polish readers might (or might not) know me as a blogger, writer, teacher and social media geek and these days the quartet takes up all my time away from football, friends, family and a fight with depression. Northern Irish people might know me as a member of the GAWA – the green and white army. English people might know me as Ulster Cherry: an AFC Bournemouth fan. But life saunters down to a halt – we work every single day of our lives and it keeps me going.
“Libraries gave us power, then work came and made us free” – Manic Street Preachers.
And while the aforementioned four (writing, blogging, teaching, social media) are all four ways that I have made money in my life, there have been some truly crazy jobs on my travels. As I try to introduce my barmy life to you while promoting Poland to the world, I thought it might be nice to get a background into who this man is, the editor of the website.
The stripped down Jonny Blair isn’t really a Facebook nerd who just happens to love pierogi. My journey to Poland was “f**king far away” from straight forward and I have had around 50 jobs in my life, spent most of my life working because I’m 100 miles an hour.
“I can’t sleep cos the world won’t wait” – Noel Gallagher.
I felt I should share my top 10 craziest jobs in my life with you on this Pracujące Poniedziałki (Working Monday).
Seriously? Yes seriously. I spent many days on cabbage fields in places called Bishopsbourne and Carrick and other such settlements I cannot remember in the middle of nowhere in Tasmania, Australia. I was basically there from 7 am (sunrise) until 5 pm (sunset) weeding farmer’s fields so that the cabbage could grow in peace!
Those were glory days my friends and I often look back with great joy on those times.
2.Selling Ice Cream
Maybe not as crazy as you think, but when you consider the fact that I spent four summers on the beaches of Bournemouth serving up “whippys” and “softees” then this is certainly a crazy lunatical job. At one point I could honestly serve 14 softees at a time in ONE hand. I held some kind of record in the seaside town. But the curtain fell in 2009 and I haven’t served an ice cream since then.
3.Distributing Phone Books
I didn’t see the magnitude of the challenge ahead of me when I decided to distribute phone books in my home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland back in 2001. I earned something ridiculous like £150 delivering about 300-400 phone books, when myself and my family probably spent about half of that on petrol as the books were so heavy and we couldn’t walk and take them. Still, we completed the task and I’m still pretty proud of that.
4.Serving Guinness in Hong Kong
Did you hear about the Northern Irishman who COULDN’T speak any Cantonese or Mandarin yet spent 5 months selling Guinness in Delaney’s Irish Pub in Hong Kong? Well that was me! I arrived in the Kong in 2011 on a working holiday visa and worked as the barman in the Irish Pub. Of course my Guinness and Kilkenny skills were superb but my cocktails and smoothies weren’t quite so rock’n’roll and I also couldn’t understand the locals. Luckily it was a foreigner hang-out and things ran smoothly, just like my Guinness servation. I loved those times and count my boss Colin as a friend – a top man.
First of all what is pyrethrum? Well I didn’t have a clue but my old manager Hayley invited me to go to a farm in northern Tasmania in May 2010 to plant pyrethrum, so I went in for it. We spent days walking through fresh soiled fields planting pyrethrum. You had to basically plant one every few inches so you had to work fast and hard.
6.Compiling Travel Itineraries
In 2013 I started working for myself as a professional travel blogger and this opened up many other doors, including the chance to work on travel apps. At the time, I concentrated on planning travel itineraries for the Asian market for companies such as VadoVia. Those apps went live and my itineraries are all still there, of which I can still feel a little pride. But it was so much minor editing and perfecting that it drove me wild! All for $30 US roughly per itinerary.
7.Working on the World’s First Broccoli Harvester
Again my farming days in Australia took a truly wacaday turn when I was offered a job as a broccoli cutter. It was so ridiculous that I loved it, became an expert, got a payrise and worked in over 20 farms, often chopping thousands of broccoli per day. I worked in remote farms in places like Poatina, Squeaking Point and Wesley Vale. The highlight was the morning I awoke at 5.23 am to become one of the first five people to work on the world’s first ever broccoli harvester.
“Good times never seemed so good” – Neil Diamond.
“Traded in my sorrows for the joy that I borrowed back in the day” – Kylie Minogue.
8.Putting Stickers on People
I actually used to earn 300 Hong Kong Dollars for a short shift in swanky bars and nightclubs in the Kong for being the Internationals Global Rep. welcoming guests to events. I loved it and the job came through the sister, Bibi of my ex-girlfriend Panny Yu. I ended up working in this job for well over a year, but only part-time on nights. We would welcome the guests by ticking their names off and putting stickers on them. Through work we always got at least one free beer, but often the Chinese workers didn’t drink so I’d end up with a hat-trick of piwos!! Snacks were also provided.
9.Teaching English to Chinese Children
I really loved teaching the children in Hong Kong where I worked in 2 Kindergartens and 10 Primary Schools over a 4 year period in the Kong and China as well as a lot of adults. Again, it was a job I got by chance. I was invited to a party in Hong Kong and I only knew one person there – Chris my friend from Bournemouth. At the party (which I was only at for 1.5 hours as I had to dash to work in the Irish Pub) I met a guy called Simon Skinner who gave me details of a job teaching kids in a local kindergarten. I applied and with no experience but lots of passion at a crazy interview, I got the job. I had so much fun in this job and taught over 500 Chinese children over a period of about 4 years.
10.Writing, Editing and Selling Northern Ireland Football Fanzines
Over the years of being a crazy Northern Ireland football fan (121 matches so far – and a 501 not out), I have been featured in four of the country’s fanzines: Arconada…Armstrong!, Here We Go…Again, Everywhere We Go and Happy Days as well as having featured in the official IFA Magazine. Aged 15 I wrote for Arconada…Armstrong! Aged 16, along with my childhood friends Michael and Gavin we launched our own Northern Ireland fanzine back in 1997. This photo was from the Finland home match in 1998.
Then in 2016, we relaunched the fanzine as we had made a promise that if we ever qualified for a tournament again, we would re-release the fanzine. It was same again, 20 years later as I stood with David, Gavin and Michael in the SAME spot outside Windsor Park selling the latest fanzines. We aged and the fanzine wasn’t the same but life went on.
That might not feel to you like a top ten crazy list but it is to me and admittedly I could have done a top 20 crazy jobs but 10 will suffice for now in the Warsaw heat. Down the years I also worked as “Gangway Man” on car ferries to France, in a 3 star hotel, a nightclub, doing backstage drinks at theatre performances, a hot dog seller, in a hut doing echinacea purifying and even a short-lived stint as a postman.
and for once my poet of choice, Noel Gallagher was WRONG “Is it worth the aggravation to find yourself a job when there’s nothing worth working for?”
“Yes Noel – it is – you were wrong, for once.”
Happy Mondays everyone!