Risky business; leather and lies

REALISTIC:  I thought I could be a rock singer but  I liked Jewel, above,  and Shania Twain.
REALISTIC: I thought I could be a rock singer but I liked Jewel, above, and Shania Twain.

I was one of those annoying kids who always knew what they wanted to do in life.

While my friends poured over university brochures and panicked about law versus life on the breadline of fine arts, I was smug in the knowledge that my path was set.

What a sucker, huh?

I had the usual dreams as a child. Ballet dancer. Astronaut. Palaeontologist. Watching Jurassic Park at age 6 put paid to that one.

I also thought I could be a rock singer, which was never going to work out because I liked Jewel and Shania Twain.

To be fair, I thought being a writer would be far more glamorous than it actually is.

I thought I'd walk into a bookstores all over town and people would whisper, "Hey, that's her."

I fancied myself as a famous war correspondent until I met Robert Fisk and decided to leave that job to the big guys.

Back in reality, it's a beautiful Spring day. I'm perched in my chair in my dark room, my back is propped up with three pillows and a hot water bottle to stop my nerves from playing rag ‘n' bone on my spine. It's after noon and I'm wearing pyjama pants.

It doesn't get more glamorous than this.

I did consider what I'd do if the whole writing shtick didn't work out.

I like catching bad guys, so I thought I could be a bounty hunter. What I know about bounty hunting is limited to the Stephanie Plum novels and a series of terrible chick flicks where people always seemed to end up handcuffed to a bed.

Bounty hunters wear lots of leather and drive fast cars. I'm a vegetarian who's too high risk to have a licence.

I quite fancied being some sort of cat wrangler and I actually did it for a while, working at a vet clinic/cat hotel during university.

Cats are classed as bad guys too, especially when you're on the Sunday morning shift after a late night out and you have to clean up after sixty of them.

Now that I think about it, I've had quite a list of unglamorous jobs.

Kitchenhand in a curry house, where my fingers were almost permanently stained orange from satay and turmeric.

The cattery, which not only involved cleaning a seemingly endless line of litter trays but also giving insulin injections to feline diabetics.

We had one repeat offender. Pumpkin received his shots twice a day, and boy did he know what was coming.

In the end, the only way to administer the treatment was to don leather gardening gloves that went up the elbow, and sit on him.

I've cleaned hotels too. One job lasted half a day because, little upstart that I was, I made a comment to management on how the systems could probably be improved.

Another was at a resort in the Marlborough Sounds and I proved better at lying by the pool than making beds.

Through Student Job Search I scored a job transcribing poetry. I was pretty excited.

It was twenty bucks an hour and all I had to do was write the poetry out.

Unfortunately, it stunk. It was some of the most terrible stuff I've ever read and I have to read my own.

Worse, the writer would hang over me while I worked and ask for my opinion.

I stuck it out for three months. Twenty bucks is twenty bucks.

In one brief and illegal stint - people who have met me will laugh at this one - I was a bouncer in an English-themed pub in Canada.

I was travelling and I was hired off the street because of my accent, which they thought passably English. I had no other credentials. I was the opposite of qualified.

This was before my disability of course but I'm a little over five feet, fifty kilos, and meek as a mouse in a church.

My job was to stand on the freezing street and ask six-foot-tall Canadian hockey players for their ID.

This was usually met with a growl of ‘Who wants to know?' ‘Um, I'm the bouncer,' I'd squeak, then stand there for the inevitable half an hour of guffawing and "Check out this chick!" and "You're a laugh, come and have a drink when you finish up."

So, writer it is.

When the block hits I still covet the idea of something more daring.

The leather-clad bounty hunter (owns her own handcuffs) or maybe the FBI agent who goes beyond the law to bring justice to small town dairy owners.

I could go undercover as a drunken bookstore proprietor a la Bernard Black. Or I could follow in Fisk's footsteps and travel to places where I have to wear a flak jacket just to get a bottle of milk and a packet of Hobknobs.

It seems I'm forever attracted to occupations full of risk, intrigue, fights to the death and the occasional possibility of using one's own rule book.

Maybe I should just go into politics and have done with it.

The Nelson Mail