This is an artificial date. I am re-publishing this blog because Sophia seems to have withdrawn her funding from the original. I have changed nothing important, mainly just the times of day the postings took place, the dates are correct.
Carfilhiot (July 2007)
Well, this is the first entry in my blog. All my friends are blogging these days. It seems to be a good way to keep a diary. I’ve always kept a diary until this year. You can see that it’s taken me 3 days to get this year working.
I have to say that one of these days was lost to family stuff. I have such a lot of family you wouldn’t believe it. I used to think it was nice, but since I’ve been at University it’s been a trial. All the uncles and aunts want to know what I’m doing and when I’ve explained they still don’t know. From their point of view, and my mother’s, really, I ought to get married, settle down, buy a house, have children, join the happy extended family thing.
OK, my cousins kind of understand that I’m making a career, but most of them are doing practical stuff in shops, offices and factories.
Mum: “What’s the point of archaeology? Have you thought of hairdressing? J is getting a good wage and fantastic tips.” Grrr.
I know it’s one day late for setting ground rules but I had to think of them first
- The whole world can read this, if they’re interested, so I’ll just use initials to protect the innocent. I used J’s real name yesterday but I went back and edited it.
- I’m not going to drivel on every day. I’ll only drivel on if I have some drivel to say, which won’t be every day. I don’t suppose.
- I’ll come back and edit this list with any new ground rules I think up.
So, what is my situation? I’ve been unemployed since graduation, except for a hideous month in summer scratching around on a dig in East Anglia under the world’s rudest Professor, who treated us all like crap and paid less than the minimum wage for sixteen hours in drizzle. It was in a car park which was about to become a Sainsbury’s and the Prof. had persuaded Sains to let him check for Viking artifacts first. They gave him six months, five of which he frittered away trying to get a grant for it. Silly twit. Needless to say, we found nothing.
It’s not quite true that I’ve been out of work the whole time. I did a couple of weeks as a clerk in a garage, which cousin B organised. The money was OK but I had to leave because they were getting me involved in the business, and I’m worried I’ll get diverted from my vocation.
I am SERIOUSLY DEDICATED to Archaeology. I know jobs are few and far between, and badly paid, but as long as the company is good and I can afford to live on what I get paid, then I’ll be OK. I do prefer warmer weather than East Anglia, though. The Mediterranean would be nice.
I’m living at home. Obviously. It is a bit guilt-making because I am dodging kind offers of paid employment from family and family contacts all the time. Pity none of them is the slightest connected with archaeology! Up to Christmas, I spent most days at the university library and haunting the department, hoping to hear of any opportunities to get my hands dirty on an actual dig. I can’t wait for the Dept to open again, and meanwhile I’m becoming very unpopular around here, and the remarks, particularly J’s, are quite hurtful.
Saying I’ve got a degree in Archaeology is a bit simplistic. There is so much in it. I think that’s what excites me most. For my degree I did Archaeological Method, Bioarchaeology, Archaeological computing, Landscape Archaeology, Ancient History, Greek and Latin. It was such hard work, and at the end I had hardly started on anything real, just a few visits to British digs and holiday jobs doing pick and shovel stuff.
I graduated without a job to go to. Then before my month looking for Viking relics I skimmed through all the literature on Viking stuff in the department’s library and on the internet and visited the Brit Mus, and other museums, and still I knew nothing by the time I was scratching a trench in Sainsbury’s Car Park.
That’s what makes me so mad. The worry that I might have spent four years of my life learning a trade I’ll never use. And people telling me to take a job, any job, while I “find my feet”. If I do that, I’ll find my feet all right – nailed to the ground. In a way, if I could afford it, I could get any amount of work standing up to my knees in mud somewhere in Britain for no pay. I did plenty of these during the vacations. But I need an actual job, or if I’m going to fund it myself I want it to be really worth while.
I suppose that I’d better fill in some background about me and my family. My great-grandmother came from Jamaica. She married an Irishman recently arrived from a famine-stricken Galway. At the time, they were both representatives of the underclass, but together they forged a dynasty of industrious workers. I am an exception, and Mum loses no opportunity to remind me.
The Campbell clan varies quite a bit in appearance. Some of my cousins are very dark, Peter in particular. I am almost white, but the mirror reminds me of my Carribean origin. Those lips. But at least my hair is reasonably long and straight and I don’t spend half my life in the hairdresser, steaming out kinks, plaiting them into cornrows and threading in beads and extensions. No wonder hairdressing is a growth industry in the East End of London, my sister and several other female relations being pillars of the profession.
I don’t really like the way I look. It’s been quite comfortable at University wearing jeans and baggy sweaters and I am confident that a professional archaeologist can spend most of their life wearing just that uniform.
Suzanne keeps trying to get me into make-up and posh frocks, and perch me on shoes of unlikely height, and I have to admit that she looks really good in all the war paint and finery, but I haven’t got the patience for all the effort.
So I’m not exactly under siege from boyfriends, and I think most of my relatives of my generation think I’m retarded – half of them are married or at least in a “meaningful” relationship by my age. 22 in case you’re wondering. I’ll post a photo up here next time I’m all dressed up for a party. Till then, you’ll have to use your overactive imaginations.
I’ve been offered a job and it really is ideal because it allows me to have most of my day free for archaeological pursuits – at least those items that can be pursued in the college library. I remember my cousin Peter watching me on New Year’s Eve, when the whole family were on about me earning a living, and he was the only one who wasn’t on my case. He phoned up this morning and suggested that I take a job as his assistant. He would pay me a percentage of what he earns and I would just help him and learn the trade at the same time. He mainly works at night – he has a franchise as a 24 hour emergency plumber. This doesn’t mean that the job is 24 hours, you choose a shift, and you only get called during that time period. He takes the midnight to 8am shifts because he has his brother’s shop to look after. You can see there’s a tradition of hard work in our family and why it there is such pressure on everyone to get a job!
So, anyway, I start tomorrow, Monday. A plumber!
Well. My first night shift over, and a few tales to tell already. I’d sort of expected to be sitting around half the night, waiting for a phone call, but it wasn’t like that at all. We must have answered a dozen calls. I’d always imagined that plumbing was all about fixing burst pipes, but there was only one of those.
In a filthy kitchen showing all the signs of a recent “domestic”, a sink had been pushed a good six inches out of place, and a mist of water sprayed out from the twisted joint under the tap. Peter found the supply valve and turned the water off. We wrestled the sink back into place and Peter fixed the connection.
There were two blocked toilets, utterly ghastly. What a stink, I tell you. Peter says they always leave it too long before calling him. He has a strange flexible plunger sort of thing that he rams down the loo. It worked both times last night, but Peter says it doesn’t always. He didn’t mention what he does if the plunger doesn’t work, but I hate to think.
In most cases it was a blocked sink and involved taking out the trap and clearing it. One of these was truly silly – someone had poured jelly down the sink and it had set solid.
Despite the fact that Peter is my cousin, I don’t really know him very well. He was very nice, explaining everything he was doing, and letting me pull the spanner from time to time. In between jobs, we talked a lot, and he seemed very interested in my archaeology, saying I should stick to my guns and not be bullied into some dead-end profession.
It was a quieter night from the plumbing point of view and Peter and I spent a couple of hours sitting in his kitchen waiting for another call. When we’d talked about plumbing for a while, he asked me about archaeology, that’s the second time he’s done that – and he’s the first member of my family to listen to the answer. I think he was really interested. Then we got another call and it was madness again for an hour or two.
I’m beginning to recognise the various customer types that Peter services. There are the terribly poor ones who can hardly afford Peter’s rather expensive rates. They tend to be in the council flats and only call Peter when it becomes obvious that the council are not going to turn up and make the repair for them. And when the situation is almost out of hand. Then there are the estate management people, including, sometimes, the council themselves, who are looking after a building. They are usually spending someone else’s money, so they don’t care and they’ll call out Peter for a trivial job and pay the full callout fee and exorbitant hourly rate without a blink. Finally there are the well-off people in these Docklands developments, with fancy interior decor and what Peter calls ‘slick’ plumbing.