Our series of photographic portraits by Neill Menneer shows Bath people at work.
In this day and age, with all the distractions, challenges and negatives that can surround us, we can spend too much time worrying about how people view us and where we are heading. We forget to stop, look out and enjoy the view. I’d initially enjoyed working in a library. Along with the usual book-related tasks, I was heavily involved in IT training for ‘Silver Surfers’, storytime sessions and craft projects across many South Gloucestershire libraries. It allowed me to be creative, mix with different people and learn a lot of skills. It wasn’t, however, a role I’d ever before imagined myself in, so when an opportunity arose to work in a gym environment I took it with enthusiasm.
While initially I had to work in reception and sales in the leisure centre, the promise of further training was there. I’ve always loved sports and was planning to go down either the strength and conditioning route or the personal training one. After a couple of months, I completed my fitness assistant and aqua aerobics certificates, which opened up much more engaging work. I really liked my colleagues, but I found I wasn’t enjoying the environment.
When my aunt passed away suddenly one Monday evening in July 2012, I resigned from my job the next day. I felt life was too important and too fragile to waste time being uninterested or generally dissatisfied. This allowed me to pursue things I’d once been passionate about but hadn’t been free to do so before. I started travelling, learning other languages and experiencing different cultures.
Listening to great bands in underground Manhattan bars, leaning against a broken-down 4×4 right next to lions in Uganda, taking in the fresh Icelandic air, and chilling with red wine in the Tuscan countryside are some of the many experiences I had.
When I came back to reality and the UK I did several temp jobs, none of which promised to lead anywhere promising. So when one day in 2014 a friend gave me the opportunity to start cleaning windows in Bath, after an initial hesitation I took the plunge, and I haven’t looked back since.
The city’s rich history affects our present. It certainly makes window cleaning in Bath interesting as it offers a great variety of work. It also provides the opportunity to meet a mix of people with different backgrounds and interests. I thrive on this. In fact, my wife and I have been learning Mandarin Chinese, which has given us some really funny and enjoyable experiences, and the chance to meet even more incredible people.
My job also means I can be really nerdy, using the latest equipment or practising new techniques. I strive to do as professional a job as possible, yet the work lets me enjoy life as well. I have fantastic customers and I meet amazing people daily, often sharing coffee with them and having fascinating conversations. At the same time I feel satisfaction in working hard and trying to provide the best service I can. This makes my job a lot more fun.
PORTRAIT: Neill Menneer at Spirit Photographic. Visit: capturethespirit.co.uk, tel: 01225 483151