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Why aren’t youngsters in Saturday jobs now?

Talking Point | Published:

Express & Star columnist Anouska Knight with today's Talking Point

Mow money

Not to cause any alarm but, where are all the kids?

As I write, it’s Saturday. The day most of my school pals and I used to have to drag ourselves out of bed, forgo half of our weekly opportunities to lie-in and trudge off to whatever position our parents had generously wangled for us.

We worked in the local corner shop, or fruit and veg stand, or mucking out stables for about a pound an hour, learning the true meaning of ‘menial’ and the value of a quid.

We learned the value of time too, perhaps the only thing more precious to us than a pocket full of dosh.

So, it’s Saturday and not one kid have I seen languishing behind a till, stacking a shelf or, as was my speciality for four hours on a Friday after school and eight hours every Saturday, sweeping hair cuttings and tumble-drying towels at the local salon.

Discounting the occasional paper round I held my first steady weekend job aged 13. My eldest son is now 14, 6ft tall and strong as an ox. More than capable of a bit of hard graft, that’s for sure.

And here and there, when he wants to earn a tenner we’ll find him a spot of heavy-lifting to do, moving bulky materials around the house we’re renovating or helping his dad transport various piles of rubble from one end of the garden to another.

His nan is pretty quick to make use of this resource too, nothing gets a teenager raking leaves and lugging lawn-mowers around quicker than the whiff of a crisp twenty pound note. (Nan-rates are significantly more favourable.)

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This system works for us, mostly. But my darling eldest currently owes me a fair old chunk for work yet to be undertaken thanks to a couple of last-minute trips out with his mates and a lack of drive on his part now that the cash has been spent already.

He’s chipping away at it, but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I decided he was old enough to start earning a little here and there and contribute a bit to his own lifestyle.

So why don’t I kick him out to work? The trouble we have is largely down to one thing.

No, not my inability as his mother to crack the whip, but football. He plays Saturdays and Sundays at times that fluctuate week to week.

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I can’t expect a business owner to plan around him when I can’t even suss out which pocket of the Midlands he might be in, so chances are slim that you’ll spot him in any corner shops or hairdressers any Saturday soon. And the rest of them? Who knows?

There are a lot of thirteen to sixteen year olds around, where are they earning their pocket money? Or are we all paying for the privilege of having our lounges hoovered once in a blue moon?

I asked my boy how many of his friends held regular part-time jobs and he could name just one who has a paper round.

Even paperboys it seems might be a dying breed. Have you noticed who delivers your papers?

Bet they’re over 50. Probably earning a few extra pounds to pay the grandkids for mowing the lawn.

  • Anouska is a best-selling author of novels published across 20 countries.

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