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I know what you’re thinking, why on earth am I taking photos of an old, run down, decrepit building? Well, that old, run down, decrepit building you see is the site of my very first proper job, Littlewoods call centre.
Littlewoods was located in Hendon just outside Sunderland city centre, no idea how long it’s been there but it shut its doors around 2010ish. Why did I go back? I guess it’s got something to do with The Story So Far article I wrote a few weeks ago. I’m turning 30 next year so I’m trying to revisit old haunts of yesterday just to rekindle old memories and just see how far I’ve come. I found my old login card the other day and that inspired me to take a trip on memory lane.
I began working for Littlewoods in April 2005, ten years ago! Christ time flies! I was a shitty arsed 18 year old who thought he was king of the world. I was signing on the dole, having a laugh with my mates and generally loving life. I have to hang my head in shame when I say this but I had no real desire of getting a job, I was content with what I was doing at the time. Signing on, going on the piss with the guys and just wanting to live a carefree lifestyle forever. Damn I was such a dumbass back in the day but it made me learn my lesson about the importance of earning an honest wage. The only income I had was selling random tat on e-bay! It got to the point where the Jobcentre said, “If you don’t accept this job we’ll stop your money”; I reluctantly took the deal. At the time, call centre jobs were in the in-thing. Everyone was banging on about them and saying how great the money was. That made me spring up a bit. I checked how much my wages were and they were going to be £200 a week. Fuck me, with 200 quid I was practically a millionaire!
I still remember my first day turning up for training. There were about eight people on this induction day all dressed to the nines in their smart suits and here’s me strutting in like my shit didn’t stink. I had long flowing hair down to my shoulders, black sunglasses, a white shirt with the top four buttons undone displaying my then hairy chest, the tightest of tight cream trousers that were so tight they might as well been painted on and brown cowboy boots. Seriously I looked as if I arrived from the 70’s. I had no idea what to wear. I didn’t own any suits, I bought 99% of my clothes from Footlocker as I was going through a hip hop phrase at the time. I walked right in the room, took a seat at the back of the class and whipped out a copy of Nuts Magazine and began perving over pictures of Kelly Brook’s boobs. Remember in The Story So Far when I talked about being the life and soul of the party? That was me back in 2005. Everyone wanted to knuckle down and here’s me as the token class clown. The job sucked. It was doing my nut well in but I was thinking of the dough. On my break, I found an old friend, Steve, in the staff canteen, he begin working three weeks before so I began quizzing him on everything. I was later assigned to working on the same team as him so I had at least one person to piss around with.
To make our jobs more interesting me, Steve and three other guys had this game where we had to try and slip in a certain word which was given to you from someone else. We started off with silly childish words like “willy” or “boobs” but we began to up the ante to some crazy stuff like “Muscle Weenier”, “Smooch Pooch” and “Schwarzen-Gouger”. It sure as hell made things more interesting! I hated the job but at the same time, I had such a laugh too. We all began our shift at 1pm and finish up at 8pm Monday to Friday, so it was a case of having a quick session at the local, do our shift, return to the pub and continue doing that for the rest of the week. Littlewoods had this bonus system where if you managed to sell this credit card you’ll get an extra £2.50 added to your wage. At the end of the customer’s order you had to sell them this card and if they accepted you had to transfer them to the other department and click “yes” on this pop up screen. That’s how the bonus was calculated. Everyone used to fiddle the system and I was no different. This one week I claimed that I sold 8 cards (£20) but in reality, I had only sold 3 (£7.50) and when I saw that I had £220 that week, I was well made up. Everybody seemed to be getting away with it so I decided one day to say that every call I had I also sold a credit card. Big mistake! The next day as we were having our regular session in the pub before work I got a phone call and they gave me the sack! They said they were going to look into this and that proper made me shit my pants. I had visions of me in court standing in front of the Judge to confess my wrongdoings. That well and truly put the frighteners on me. I was well gutted. So it was back to dole again and I eventually got a part time job Christmas temp job in October at Topman. One of the best jobs I ever had!
Today I decided to pay the place a little visit. It wasn’t a case of turning up, take a photo and leave. I wanted to recreate the same journey that I took all those years ago. So I would get the bus into town, get off at John Street and walk to Littlewoods. For added nostalgia, I brought along my minidisc player (remember those kids?) just so I could re-listen to the type of music I would have been listening to back in 2005. From those not living in Sunderland, Hendon has a reputation of being a rough area and that opinion still holds up today with the amount of chavs hanging around the corner shop asking whoever walks past to buy them some alcoholic beverages. Stick to Coca Cola, lads. As I was walking to “work”, I was overcome with this strange wave of emotion. I was suddenly transported to my 18 year old self walking to work just like I did ten year ago listening to Eminem and the Happy Mondays on my minidisk player.
I would love to know what the inside of the building looked like now but I’ll never know since the entire premise was under lockdown and most likely riddled with asbestos. The car park is still a shit tip so nothing changed there.
So there you go guys. Revisiting a memorable place of huge significance of my life.
See you again in 2025, Littlewoods.