A life in the shift...; Of Jean Clarkson, 25, supervisor, Ridley Bakery, Dalston, London

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The bakery is open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I go to bed at around 2pm and get up at 10pm. I hardly see my flatmate, and I only see my boyfriend at the weekend. I was an art student at Middlesex and saw the job advertised in a newspaper. I keep meaning to get in contact with some artists, but I never get around to it. I've done a few portraits - staff bring in photos of their kids. I never charge any money.

I live in Peckham and cycle to work at 12.30am. We get a few dodgy customers ; some don't want to, or can't pay; others are off their heads and buy loads of bagels; and you get people from nightclubs. The Guardian said we had a riot a few years ago, but it was more a fight between two guys. One woman sat on the counter with her stilettos in the cream cakes. I put it down to us being short-staffed.

Working here has made me tough. If you get grief from one customer, you might take it out on the next. We're always told to drop everything and serve, but sometimes I have to work overtime on other jobs - cleaning floors, making mayonnaise, tidying the deli. We get overtime pay, but you have to ask for it.

Our only perk is eight bagels and a loaf of bread day. That's the worst thing - you put a lot of hard work in and get little back. Better wages would be a sign of appreciation, or at least somewhere to have a cup of tea and a cigarette. We take our breaks (three 10-minute breaks a night) on the stairs.

The high turn-over of staff means there is always someone new to talk to. It can be really buzzy. I'm amazed at how far people come just for a bagel. None of us who work here are Jewish - I'm not even that keen on bagels - but the owners are.

After I finish at 9am, I have a cup of tea and cycle to a gym. After a work-out and a shower - cutting up 15 bunches of spring onions can leave a bit of a pong - I cycle home, have some cereal and go to bed.

I'd like to do something else, but I don't know what. I don't resent those who can afford to paint. Good luck to them. I'd just like to get my act together.

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