Rodge Glass is an Author, Lecturer at Strathclyde University and an Associate Editor at Cargo Publishing. His latest novel, Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs, was published in April 2012.

But what did he do before all this? Read on to find out all about where he started his career…

1 – My first job….well, I think my first job showed me that all jobs are really a collaboration. I was given a paper round for the local freebie thing on the estate where I lived in South Manchester, I was about 13 at the time, but there were about 200 of these things to take round, and I could only carry about 40 in my bag at once. So my poor old stepdad had to also take the night off and sit in his car at various points along the route, waiting to fill up my bag again. How full time posties manage their bag loads I’ve no idea – maybe they also have generous-hearted family members who are prepared to do such things? Anyway, I trundled around, headphones in my ears, walking at a leisurely pace and picking these papers up as I went. Don’t think I realised that this took a couple of hours every Thursday night out of the life of another man, I was very focused on myself at that age. As you are, I suppose. But his sacrifice never really occurred to me until years later. Surely the football must have been on the radio? Maybe he’d have preferred to have been in the pub? Or at home? Anyway. Every project is a joint effort I suppose.

2 – I graduated to collecting money for St Ann’s Hospice, a local hospice also on our estate, who used to run a £2 lottery every week, and folks signed up for this in the grim old days before the shiny National Lottery, which killed many others when it was born in 1994, I think? I remember writing an essay at school about how unjust it was that St Ann’s was going to struggle as I was going to a lot of houses where people had to break the news to me that they were switching…Still. At least I was able to carry all the money myself, and nobody had to wait on me at the bottom of every other road.

3 – I must be missing some things out here, but the next one that stands out to me was working picking Pomelos in Israel on a kibbutz in 1996/7. It turned out Israel wasn’t really for me, and I was uncomfortable with a lot of the things I learned out there about the Israel/Palestine conflict – so I’ve only been back once since, to be best man for my best friend. But the year I lived there did have a big impact on me, and I loved being at the kibbutz. I’m not really an early morning type, but I loved getting up at 6, shovelling down a big breakfast in the canteen and then taking the truck out into the desert to pick these fruit which to me looked like massive pears on the outside, massive oranges on the inside. The fact that I’d never heard of them before made it all seem very other-worldly. We could see the border from where we were working and I always wondered what was on the other side, how people outside the kibbutz viewed those inside, and I could never quite sign up to the idea. But there was a huge sense of camaraderie, I made great friends and loved picking those silly big fruit with the headphones in. (I’m seeing a pattern here. I like jobs where I can switch off and listen to music, daydreaming.) Also, though I’m not a Zionist and I didn’t fall in love with the country, much of the ethos of the kibbutz I picked up at 18 years old did stay with me, and I still enjoy working in communities. It’s just that now those are literary communities.

4 – There were a couple of other brief ones in between but my next main job was cleaning the rooms on the kibbutz, after the Pomelo season ended. Up until then there’d been a women-only policy for cleaning the rooms the (very small amount of) tourists to the kibbutz used, as the guy in charge thought that it was woman’s work – and that men couldn’t do it. This made me and a friend feel like gender warriors…which of course we weren’t, but it did make it easier to motivate ourselves to clean the toilets, mattresses, floors and all that. I don’t think we did a great job and I’ve been a little mop-shy since, but we did get the boss to admit fellas could do the job. Whether he switched his policy again as soon as we were on the plane back to the UK, I’m not sure…

5 – My first proper job in Glasgow, which I got in 1998, was at Curler’s on Byres Road. I started out on the bar and then got trained as a Team Leader, then loved it so much I almost went into the management training programme. As an undergrad I was doing 50/60 hours a week there – in those days it was a student pub, with cheesy discos and clubs on til 3am. Again, I liked being part of the team, counting the money up (with headphones in) and thought I’d like to own a pub of my own one day. But then I looked around and saw all the managers had no life, they were always always in the pub, and even when they finished they’d stay for a pint or two. I got lucky, as at Curler’s I met Alasdair Gray, who I later wrote a book about. So my 5th job was an important part of my first real career. Which became writing…

Find out more about Rodge on his website and follow him on Twitter.


We’ve asked professionals in creative industries what jobs they have had in the past to get their foot through the door (or at least pay the rent). For more in the “My First 5 Jobs” series look here.