My first job, as a sixteen year old sixth form student, was working in a bakery.
Initially, I made pizzas. I had to ladle on tomato sauce, sprinkle on some cheese, then place an olive and an anchovy on each one.
It was messy, boring, smelly repetitive work, and by the end of each day my white overalls were splattered with so much tomato sauce that it looked like I had murdered someone.
Thankfully, my duties progressed from topping pizzas to rolling croissants, inserting the chocolate sticks into pain au chocolat, and eventually, I became supervisor in the packing department, being responsible for individually wrapping croissants and cakes that were ordered by Heathrow and Gatwick airports, P&O Ferries, and Buckingham Palace.
Yes, it is quite possible that the Queen has eaten a croissant that I helped to make.
Working in a bakery, as you can imagine, was quite lovely in winter, when I would be warmed by the ovens and soothed by the smell of hundreds of croissants being baked.
In summer, though, it was a different story; those ovens would torment me by raising the already high temperatures, and I would sweat while unloading hot croissants from the baking trays.
I used to sneak off to the huge walk-in fridges, where all the cream cakes and pastries were stored, and stand in there for a few minutes to cool myself down.
Often there would be a delay while I was waiting for the croissants to bake, so I would head upstairs to the store-room, and eat handfuls of raisins and, occasionally, some of the sticks of dark chocolate that would otherwise be intended for the pain au chocolat.
Sometimes, to relieve the boredom, I would hide raisins in some of the croissants, wondering if anyone would notice when they ate them, smirking to myself as I imagined their surprise.
This is the first in a series of posts exploring my employment history. Part Two is here.