Vivid Views is my series of articles, blog posts and press releases show-casing my work as an author and reflecting my many years in business and self-employment. They are a blend of my real life experiences, professional insights, personal views and fun stories.
My hope is that in them you find enlightenment and inspiration. 'In The Heat Of The Cold' is the 23rd in the series.
My grandfather was a master baker in the city of his birth which was, at the time, the largest fishing port in Europe. As such my earliest work experience, early morning, after school and weekend jobs were in his bakery and in the fishing industry.
The bakery was hot, an open-necked, sleeves rolled up environment where I learned to knead dough with easy-going, flour-ghosted tradesmen, bake bread and gorge myself on scorching hot Scotch pies straight from the oven! I needed them. Because from the bakery I high-tailed it on foot most mornings to the fish docks, freezing cold in the early hours of winter days, to unload trawlers, pack their cargo of wet fish in ice and deliver the bulky boxes to the fish processing houses for gutting and filleting.
Where the atmosphere in the bakery was chirpy and cheerful, busy but sometimes subdued, the fish industry was an ever loud, vulgar, rough-and-tumble world, peopled by tough trawlermen and even tougher fishwives! The bakery taught me the skill of baking and the language of rolls, 'softies', loaves and 'fancies'. At the docks I learned how to handle, grade and cut fish and the coarse talk of the hardened souls which went with it.
I also learned, not surprisingly, that fishworkers bought bread from the bakery and that bakers purchased fish from the fishmonger. On this realisation was my first enterprise born. It was a barter style arrangement whereby I supplied my friends at the docks with morning rolls and bakery goods and my baker colleagues with fresh fish. Each day the dockworkers awaited my arrival from the bakery before enjoying their early morning tea break with the hot rolls and pies I brought them. The bakers in turn relished my return from the docks with my fishy cargo before knocking off for the day and taking their fresh cod, haddock or herring home to their families for lunch.
So I now had three jobs, a foot in two industries, friends from many different backgrounds and the education and future contacts to go with them. Of course I was neither the maker of the bread nor the catcher of the fish, the prime wealth creation activities, but, as a middleman between the two, I had unwittingly become a young entrepreneur! Later in life I would create my own goods and services but for now I was earning in both real terms and, more importantly as I would discover, in experience and goodwill.
In due course my grandfather retired and the fish industry died. But the need of the populace to be fed lives on. There is always a market for fresh food. And there are always opportunities for those willing to grind that bit harder than the rest, get their hands dirty and use their native wit. Grandad, the bakers and the fish workers all knew that. I know it too - so should you.
I am Tom Riach. I live and write in the sunny south of Portugal.
My latest novel is 'Too Early For A Glass Of Wine?' Claim your copy by clicking on the image below.
IN THE HEAT OF THE COLD is an original copyright Tom Riach feature.
I hope you enjoyed this Vivid View and found it to be of value.
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See you there! Regards, Tom.