Hugh (gapingvoid) Mcleod suggests the term ‘crofting’ for the way many of us work these days. I’ve just got used to using ‘portfolio career’ to explain my bits and bobs means of earning a crust so I wonder if crofting is a better term. Hugh says:
gapingvoid: “cartoons drawn on the back of business cards”: “crofting” as a metaphor for the new world of work?
as the BigCorp job-for-life also becomes more and more a thing of the past, expect to see more “Crofters” out there, even if like me, its no longer sheep and potatoes we’re selling. I think its a sweet little term that conveys a lot, especially to those of us who seem to have a built-in aversion to salaried positions in other peoples companies. You?
Well, in its favour is my Scots heritage – there’s a dogged streak of self reliance, an inbuilt distrust of any boss, a desire for self-determination, a belief in the power of self education and improvement, a dislike of over-commercialisation and consumerism. These are not just the qualities of the traditional crofter. They are actually many of the classic Scot of any flavour’s pet obsessions.
My lot were never crofters. It’s a Highland term and it has a very specific meaning. It’s an intriguing way of life and one that I was quite drawn to at one time. Still my ancestors were Lowlanders mostly, an accountant, a test driver for the Ford motor company before the First War (that’s a whole other story), a rector (head teacher), a writer of cookery books, a dominee, a poet, a seed merchant, tenant farmers, gamekeepers, a coachman, more teachers, farm labourers, mill workers, hand-loom weavers. I could go on but there are no crofters there. (That’s how I learned to use the internet, doing family research. I’m over it now, mostly!)
So, can I embrace the term crofter to describe what I do now? I think I’d have to learn to love Kale first! I’m semi-serious here. The physical, hard work of tending a patch of, often infertile, land is so intrinsic to the idea of crofting that I don’t think we can just hijack the word and change its meaning so utterly. (Even if Hugh’s uncles do farm manilla envelopes these days!)
I work. I think I sometimes work quite hard but I do not physically wrench my living from the land and the sea like a genuine crofter. I agree we need to find a better term for this mixed way of working but for me crofting isn’t it!