In which The Author is between engagements

For the last couple of years, my ‘occupation’ has been listed on Facebook as ‘Resting between engagements’. It’s a throwback to a nice expression which actors used to use (and possibly still do) to describe those frequent periods when they’d be out of work. The joke is probably lost on many of my younger friends, unfortunately.
As of next month, I hope to change it to ‘Self-employed’. I’m meeting a small business advisor next week, and with any luck I should be up and running in April, or maybe May.
It only recently dawned on me that many people in South Wales seem to work on short contracts, or by sub-contracting, or just have unstable jobs. If you meet an old friend you haven’t seen for a while, almost the first question you’ll hear is, ‘Are you working, then?’ That speaks volumes for an area which (as my pal David Leslie Davies once remarked) has been in economic decline since 1929.
One of the lads reduced everyone in The Conway to hysterics a few years ago, recounting a visit to Aberdare Jokecentre. He works on the railway infrastructure, and in common with most people working in civil engineering he goes from contract to contract with occasional lay-offs in. He told us that he’d been registering a new unemployment claim in between contracts. Apparently the conversation went something like this:
‘Do you have any savings?’
‘Aye – two million pounds.’
‘Don’t talk soft!’
‘You started it!’
Even the landlord laughed, which says a great deal.
But back to resting actors. Jeffrey Bernard told a story about the British character actor and noted piss-artist Dennis Shaw. Apparently John Le Mesurier was walking through London one day and saw Mr Shaw being bundled into the back of a police van. Cool as a cucumber, the suave Mr Le Mesurier walked up to the open door and said, ‘Evening, Dennis – working?’