Careers Advice 1970’s Style

Yesterday I wrote of a memory from my schooldays which resulted in receiving several pieces of very encouraging feedback. In fact one friend went as far as saying “I’ve just read your blog, Gary. Any chance I can borrow a tin of soup?” Buoyed by this positive critique, I thought I’d try recollect further memories from around that time.

As my comprehensive school education headed towards it’s conclusion in the late 1970’s, if truth be told, I lacked the maturity to go out into the big wide world of employment. Despite this and regardless of being bereft of where my career path may lay, at 16 years old my aspirations were to leave.

When I was 15, I wanted a job where I worked 10 hours a week, could claim ridiculously high expenses, receive fringe benefits, along with being able to interrupt follow workers with child like cheering and booing, whilst they attempted to convey potentially crucial information. Unfortunately, I was too young to be a politician so an interview was arranged with a careers advisor………… More of which later.

I’m rubbish at remembering some of my fellow pupils names from senior school. However, I do recall one lad attempted to get everyone at school to call him by the nickname Smithy. Bearing in mind he was called Carl Jones it was a bizarre request, which was suitably ignored by his peers……. Much to his chagrin, they bestowed an alternative moniker of Jonesy upon him.

After a failed attempt to swap nicknames with Steve ‘Smithy’ Smith, he eventually relinquished aspirations of securing this unlikely pseudonym……… Steve couldn’t be persuaded to switch, even after Carl attempted to sweeten the deal by offered him a live frog and the five Panini football stickers he needed to complete his album.

smith and jones

Smithy or Jonesy, or whatever the hell Carl Jones was called, was an eccentric kid who made up for what he lacked in intelligence by exuberance. He could be really hyper at times, often falling foul of teachers with his numerous behavioural issues. He was guilty of many irrational judgement calls, including the inexplicable wearing of The A Team oven gloves in winter.

As well as being the first kid to wear gloves with Mr T emblazoned on them, he was the only kid in school to be diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) simultaneously.

Saying that, though, the claim was made by Bert the school caretaker so I’d venture the validity of the diagnosis is open to question. Unaware of Bert undergoing any medical or child psychology training, there was a consensus amongst the kids not to hold much store by his prognosis.

Saying that, though, I’d say the caretaker was nearer the mark than Carl with his diagnosis. Jonesy (or Smithy…. Blimey, I’m chuffing confusing myself now!) incorrectly claimed he suffered from OHP and ADP, which I believe are acronyms for Overhead Projector and Andorran Peseta!

At the age of 15, as preparation for our meeting with the careers advisor we were told to attend the session with an up to date curriculum vitae (resume). Carl updated his hobbies to include ‘creosote and bourbon’. He was told to immediately remove the entry by our form tutor Mr Bagg, along with the word Smithy he’d added in the ‘Nicknames’ section.

No one knew if creosote and bourbon were two separate hobbies, or some kind of weird alcoholic drink that could protect your fence………. To be honest, no one really cared either.

Creosote and bourbon – A potent mix!


When the careers advisor arrived at the school a week later, he’d chosen to provide his occupational guidance in one of the most feared rooms in the school. Much to everyone’s displeasure, he commandeered the scarcely used Torture Room.

This paucity in the use of the room followed a recent edict from Gateshead council schools in the borough could no longer perform punishments utilising the rack, chaining to a wall or restrained pupils in stocks.

I’d never been in the Torture Room prior to my careers interview and I have to say was relieved. Discussing your potential career path is distracting when you have a dust-covered rack and guillotine in your eye line…… I don’t believe the guillotine was every used in anger, it was apparently present as a deterrent and trimming the caretaker’s toenails.

Not that I was in the room for any prolonged duration. I recall being introduced to the advisor during a masonic type ceremony involving aprons, weird handshakes and the reading of the melancholic lyrics of Terry Jacks’ song ‘Seasons in the Sun’.

He was a rotund, balding man with eyes that seemed to rotate underneath his black spectacles as he spoke (the advisor not Terry Jacks).

Black spectacles not dissimilar to the careers advisor’s


If I hadn’t been so engrossed with the rack and the guillotine, I’d have been equally distracted by the fact his eyes seemed to rotate in an anti clockwise direction when he finished a sentence.

Saying that, it wasn’t as though the dialogue flowed much during the meeting anyway. The advisor, who I will call Dolores Greenhouse as I can’t remember his real name, facilitated my inspirational careers advice meeting, which went as follows:-

Dolores – “Hello. You’re Gary I take it?….. How can I help you?” (eyes spun anti-clockwise)

Me – “Errrr…… I’m here for careers advice, sir”

Dolores – “Well, why you here to ask me, lad?…… I’m a butcher!” (eyes spun anti-clockwise)

Me (confused) – “Am I in the wrong room, sir?”

Dolores – “No, I’m kidding lad!…… Tell me son, are you interested in role within the manual labour field?……. You know, things like building, becoming an electrician or a plumber.” (eyes spun anti-clockwise)

Me – “No sir.”

Dolores – “Ok then, I’d recommend you try get a job in an office, lad!” (eyes spun anti-clockwise)

He then smiled and, after a period of silence, motioned me to vacate the Torture Room. I thanked him, prior to walking back towards my classroom relieved that my career path uncertainties, which I experienced prior to my interview, had been allayed by Dolores’ thorough employment options.

Carl Jones was the next pupil to be interviewed by Dolores Moorhouse. His interview seemed to last longer than mine, as he was out of the classroom for around fifteen minutes.

When he eventually returned his body language indicated things hadn’t gone well. He looked really fed up and for some strange reason considerably taller. The more I thought about it,  I surmised him being six inches taller on his return was more likely down to him being subjected to time on the rack, than a fifteen minute teenage growth spurt.


It worked out well in the end for ‘Smithy’/’Jonesy’, though, as time on the rack during his careers interview resulted in him getting a job as a professional basketball player.

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