Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Careers in the 60s

Setting off on a career was different in the 60s, and the concept only applied to men. When the boys left their (single-sex public) schools, one or two went to university, but most did not. Those with connections to the land went to Cirencester (like my brother Fuff) while others joined their father's businesses (Nick Duke and James Duke and Sons) or followed their father into the navy (Johnny Cooke). One started his own successful fishing business (Ian Hay and The Rod Box) and another became a restaurateur (Charlie Skipwith and Cobbetts).

School friends at Winchester were all destined either for the City, the services or one of the professions - and mostly went to university first, not to learn anything in particular, but to have a good time. Oxford was favoured because of the school's links with New College. Interestingly, absolutely no one went into the sciences, manufacturing or engineering, though one or two brave souls went into IBM.

None of the girls went to university; instead they went to finishing schools like Doina in Switzerland and Daisy Martinucci and Signorina Signorini in Florence - and some did the season. Afterwards - or instead of - finishing school, they (eg Penny Hitchcock / Cenci) went to secretarial school, the favoured one being Miss Sprules's (Miss VM Sprules and Miss Aristea Glyka) above Barclays Bank in Winchester. A few (eg Belin Wallis / Martin) went to Miss Balfour Barrow in Parchment St. Thereafter they took secretarial jobs in London, and shared flats. Publishing was a favoured job; poorly paid but socially entirely acceptable. But the idea was to get a good husband, not to work for more than the time taken to find one. 'Work' was bringing up children, looking after a husband, sometimes joining a charity or doing a part-time job for pin-money, gardening and looking after the house. Above all the family came first, and family meals were sacrosanct.

Consequently, my generation grew up with the men in some sort of career or business, while their wives stopped work as soon as they got married or in a few cases, when children came along. There was no thought of any other arrangement, and family life therefore followed the traditional pattern of our parents.

Everything began to change in the 70s and particularly in the 8os.

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