Louise Shore, born 1930s: Life and Labour

Louise Shore mentions several different jobs throughout her memoir, both when she lived in Jamaica and then when she moved to London, England. Her first job was a rather credible one for someone from a working class family with poor literacy skills. She was employed in a doctors: “I went to work in Linstead. I used to work at the family doctor, the surgery” (Shore, Pure Running, page 21). It is not made absolutely clear what Shore’s job role was at the surgery but perhaps she worked as a receptionist or assistant, someone to welcome patients perhaps or fetch documents and such. Shore was exposed to some very gruesome sights whilst she worked here: “I never seen anything so strange. He cut him right in two and take out his heart and his kidneys to test it, to find out what he died of” (Shore, 22). Shore had no medical training and very little experience with things of this nature and so was both shocked and unprepared for the sight of the dissected body: “I fainted. I just fall down” (Shore, 22). It seemed that Shore grew a lot whilst working at the doctors as she saw things many would not see in a lifetime.

The surgery Louise worked at (page 20)                                                              Pure Running, page 22

In the end, working in the surgery became too much for Shore: “I couldn’t do any more work with the doctor, because I was frightened” (Shore, 26). She went to Spanish Town which is the capital of the parish of St. Catherine. The Spanish town was the largest town in Shore’s parish and was also the former English and Spanish capital, hence the name, which meant that job opportunities were greater there than in Ewarton where Shore lived. In Spanish Town, Shore gained employment as a babysitter: “I started to work with this lady, looking after this little Chinese boy” (Shore, 28). Because of the distance from her home, Shore was offered a room with the family and so became a live-in child minder: “for where we live it’s a far place, and I don’t want to go home at night alone – she say, well, she would give me a room” (Shore, 28).

In London, Shore worked in the teashop “Lyons” (Shore, 54), first founded in 1884. Unfortunately for Shore, the Lyons she worked at closed down: “I still work at Lyons in Hammersmith Road…After a while, Lyons closed down” (Shore, 54). Shore filled out numerous applications and attending several agency meetings but never received any further contact: “never heard from them…I get so depressed with not having a job” (Shore, 55). Eventually Shore landed herself another job. She went from cooking, to cleaning, to serving tables: “I went cleaning the table, until they put me on serving again, serve tea and cake” (Shore, 56), all relatively lowly jobs compared to the jobs she had had in Jamaica. The last job Shore makes reference to is British Airways: “The following Monday I start up there, and that’s where I’ve been ever since” (Shore, 58). Again, Shore does not mention her job responsibilities but she seems very content with her job at British Airways: “I pray that I stay there till I retire…The job – it’s hard, and it’s far; but I have to say, well, things are better” (Shore, 62).

 

Louise Shore, Pure Running: a Life Story, Hackney Reading Centre at Centerprise (1982). Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiography, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection, 2:707.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *