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A kind of freedom

Disclaimer: I need to say before I write this that I bear no ill will to my former employers Archant. I left to go and follow my path, everything was and is good. Archant did me well as an employer for eleven years and, I like to think, and know, I did them well as an employee.

At 5:30pm I suddenly realised that I had run out of decaff coffee. I usually shop at Morrisons but their decaff range appeared not that wide. I decided to head to Sainsbury’s on my bicycle, three miles from home. I thought I was mad to head out at rush hour time. Yarmouth road is being resurfaced and I braved that nightmare yesterday on the way to Buckenham Marsh. I took a convoluted route to avoid traffic. However I found the traffic wasn’t bad. I also found Sainsbury’s quite quiet.

I found the coffee, though it was just a bigger pack than one I could get at Morrisons. I was good and didn’t buy anything else. Then I was very bad. I paid and went to leave, past the café. I looked at the menu and thought, oh, why not?

Decadently I ordered an all day brunch and a cappuccino. I took my seat in the virtually empty café at 6:30 expecting them to close at 7. The cappuccino was weak, but actually very nice. The all day brunch, watery in places, but really not bad.

Now I will start to arrive at my point. During this wait and meal I realised that I hadn’t been in that café since 2010 or 2011, before my time working in conservation. When working at Archant Print I would sometimes come here while working or on a day off, then Sainsbury’s was my local supermarket. Then I could afford to eat there. I could afford a lot of things. I had been telling myself off about this meal, how I really couldn’t afford it. Then I decided that a treat once in a while can’t be that bad, however tight the purse strings.

My mind went back to that time. Things had been so different then. There had been so much experience since. Experience I wouldn’t change for anything… the ups and the downs. The regrets and the positives. It had been another life. And feels like a lifetime away.

I decided after my meal to cycle through the industrial estate where I used to work. I thought I might not look at Archant Print. I had been back for an interview after arriving back from Indonesia. Unfortunately I was on strong antibiotics and rather high. I didn’t end up working at Archant again.

I went the back way up the steps from the supermarket. Then cut over the railway bridge like in the old days. Down the cycle path behind Archant Print and onto the road which leads to it. Did I ignore it? Did I cycle away? Did I hell. I cycled up to the entrance slip road. As I did so I saw a car or two arrive. People coming for their shift, like I used to. The place looked the same, the trees a little taller, that was it. Across from the factory the old St Andrews hospital had been flattened but for the entrance building. I used to look at the building when I was in the canteen at Archant. I cycled over to look at the last block of it left.

Then I turned back to Archant Print and as I started to head past it I saw a couple of people entering, and a further couple walking down the side. I then had a furious revelation: I didn’t work there anymore! I had no ties. I didn’t have to spend my life returning to that place. I HAD MOVED ON!

I know that seems like an obvious statement. Times have been tough of late and to tell myself off in Sainsburys and think of the time when I had money had been a little odd. But there and then it all flooded back to me about how I left for a new life. And yes, I am having that new life. I don’t have to be working at Archant. When I worked there our shifts were initially very intense, one got one weekend off in three, things like that. None of it was bad, you just seemed to spend a lot of time there. And it was always the same, the same newspapers week in, week out.

I cycled away down the cycle path into the industrial estate, the path were I used to walk when I took my break. Now I didn’t have to go back, I was free!

I headed into Whitlingham Country park over the A47 flyover. The same feeling kept with me. I was on the bike that had belonged to Archant when I got it on the cyclescheme. The bike now belonged to me. I was now free to head to my new life still. I’d not even felt like that when I really did head to my new life in 2011.

I stopped by the river as I got to the first part of Whitlingham and sat on a bench. There were many rowing boats going past. The feeling was with me strong. Whatever had happened since 2011 I was still free of the, almost prison, of having to be in the same place of work, almost, everyday. Never again! I know I am poor at the moment and one always needs money, there is no escape, but why does it have to mean doing the same thing until you conk out? I had decided the time had come for change in 2011 and I went for it. Working at Archant had given me money which had given me the chance to do things. The redundancy had paid for the conservation experience. But now, despite cash, I was on that new road, the road now heading to University and beyond.

I stood up from the bench and there: Archant Print above the trees. Goodbye Archant and thanks for all the fish.

Archant - thanks for all the fish

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