Mostly Bollogs, I'm afraid

But occasionally, a glimmer of truth.
If you find one, please let me know.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Failed your GCSEs?

Think about becoming a roofer, plumber, block paver, electrician, mechanic, landscape gardener, locksmith, tyre fitter, window cleaner ...

No, I'm not taking the piss.

I'm an engineer. I don't do much engineering now - I deal with plant (big noisy plant, not wisteria) and make the electronic things and computery things work.I invent stuff to make things work better, faster, cheaper. And I refuse to do things which take away jobs. So I'm not rich, nor posh. I like my job.

I'm in this job because I failed exams, mightily and with flying colours. I am crap at them. I taught myself English properly after I left school. Same with maths. I started in the seventies working shifts while all my mates went to Uni. I was well-off. I drank a lot, and still do. I ate Chinese and Indian takeaways. I still do.

I will have a go at anything. Most people won't. They need those tradesmen.

And here is where I think the problem is.

You're at a "do". Someone asks you what you do. You say "I'm an electrician." They say "Oh." You say "I'm a doctor." They say "Wow! Really? You must be dead clever."

I have respect for all those tradesmen up there. I bloody KNOW how hard it is to do these things, especially when there's a curve ball in the way. Most people SHOULD know how to wire up a light. Should. They don't. I do. But I also know when someone thinks they can bang a couple of lights under their kitchen cupboards, that some poor sod has to get a switch set into a wall, chase away at least the plaster and probably some brickwork, which will have a concrete lintel in it, plus some water pipes, then have to lift the upstairs carpet, floorboards, drill or chase out beams, route the cables behind the units, put in false bottoms, make good, replace plaster and redecorate ... it's a BASTARD. It's skilled. Most people won't even think about doing it. If they tried they'd fuck it up.

So. Failed some GCSEs? Not Uni material? Nor am I. Look at some proper stuff. Real work. See if you can get an apprenticeship. Work for what someone can afford to pay you, get into tech (that's college, not Uni, and you learn better stuff there, not a load of theoretical bollocks). And if they ask you to make the tea, make the tea. Until you can make tea properly. And watch the pro work. You'll learn. And yes, the guvnor WILL send you down to the wholesalers to ask for "a long weight". And a tin of elbow grease, and a pack of skyhooks.

And when you become a sparky, a plumber, a welder, you say "Actually, I'm an electrician/plumber/welder/whatever". With pride. because you can fucking DO something. Something useful. And the graduate suit will NEED you. And you just wait until you get your own apprentice.

You'll be doing the job in your sleep. And people will be amazed at your skill.

Remember this little gem ...

Chap goes for a job in Homebase. Undermanager says "here's a broom, sweep the warehouse floor." Chap answers "Actually, I'm a graduate." Undermanager says "Sorry, didn't realise. Here, give it to me, I'll show you how."


He's Spartacus said...

Before becoming the internationally renowned giant of commerce that you see before you, I was a gamekeeper for two years.

Without doubt the most rewarding and enjoyable two years of my life.

Captain Ranty said...

I know fuck all. Didn't bother with exams.

Been round the world twice. Spent a week or more in over 70 countries.

I may be as thick as mince but at least I've seen a bit.


LesleyAlmost said...

Good post Marvo as always. There is only one thing I will add. I know that plumbers, electricians and all skilled folks out there are smart and busy. I admire the skill required as I know I can't do it and have difficulty getting hold of one who can as they are always in demand.....

Fascist Hippy said...

Hear fucking hear, well said!

DarthMeerkat said...

Well said Marvo!

I was an apprentice in the mid 80's and I'm still in mechanical engineering, albeit from behind a desk now.

I have fond memories of being sent to get a "box of sparks" for the grinder and then had the pleasure of sending my apprentices to the stores for the same thing!

SadButMadLad said...

Some people think. Some people do. Some people can use their hands. Some people can use their brains. In all cases they are all brilliant when they do a job which matches their skills.

Being a welder is top stuff. Highly skilled welders can name their price and their price is very high. They are better paid than doctors.

I would take issue with one point though. "I invent stuff to make things work better, faster, cheaper. And I refuse to do things which take away jobs." If something's cheaper and faster than it generally means it needs less manpower which takes away a job, but it also requires new jobs of a different skill to manage the new machines.

Anonymous said...

Well said. Horses for courses.