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My very first job title was ‘playworker’. I worked for the YMCA, running holiday and after-school clubs in and around Kingston Upon Thames.

Next I worked in theatre. That was in Exeter, Edinburgh, London, Taunton, Brighton, Hove and elsewhere. My main job was to sell tickets. (Including for ‘plays’. And at this point, I would like to point out that this entire post is about ‘play’, in one way or another.)

After university, I went on an adventure through Asia and New Zealand, before arriving in China to teach. I taught schoolchildren how to speak English. Or, at least, I tried to. The children weren’t very keen. They were more interested in playing around. (‘Play’ again, see?)

To earn some money, one summer I worked at a festival bar. They told me off for dancing too much. Later, the same company even made me shave my beard off to meet the grooming standards needed to serve hotdogs at a video game conference. (Can you spot the ‘play’?)

In a more illustrious role, I did work experience for The Observer. I was encouraged to drop in at The Guardian’s morning ‘all-hands’ meetings, which was a revelation. It was so calm and concise, and yet so purposeful. Writing for The New Review, one of my tasks was a 250-word summary of Kenneth Branagh’s life and career. I had to rush the end of it, otherwise I would have missed the start of a play I was seeing. I’d hope he wouldn’t have minded. (‘Play’, right? I’ll leave you to it from hereon in…)

That same Autumn, at The Scotsman, I learned that journalists – even interns – always need a backup pen. My mental notes on that year’s Turner Prize nominees made for some rather hazy reporting.

Having left the theatre, I worked at a small East London marketing agency for a bit. I liked the creative challenge, but was ill-suited to things like time tracking and charging for work, which I had so hoped was going to be my path.

In evenings and weekends, I occasionally tinker away as “Sideways”, my moniker for my own creative projects. (So named, incidentally, after a cheeky rascal I played in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good in school.) As Sideways, I’m particularly proud of my branding for ’The Oatcake Company’ and ‘Smile At Dave’, despite neither one making it off the blocks…yet!!

Now, most of the time, I work for a company that provides professional services for gambling and payments businesses based all over the world. Our mission is “to enable* valuable connections between people and businesses,” something I believe is doing an awful lot of good.

I’m also a Dad, a husband, a son and a friend.

That’s my “career in play”, so far.

Note: This post is loosely inspired by “F*** Work, Let’s Play” which I bought in the East Surrey Hospital branch of WH Smiths. I never actually finished it. Mostly I just liked the title. It was in the ‘top 25 bestsellers’ display shelf, or maybe top 10 even. Either way, how great is that?!

* Update 04 September: In the first publication of this post I wrongly cited this as ‘to create’. ‘Enable’ is far better.

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