When I was on the cruise last year I became friendly with a group of fellow cruisers, who were all around my age ( give or take 10 years). As people of our age are wont to do, we often discussed the differences we have seen over the years.

We had all come from similar backgrounds, hardworking supportive families. Two had been privately educated, the rest of us had been through the state system, a few via grammar school and the others via secondary modern. None of us had been to university, but all had had further education, either from our employers, day release, or night school and all had had reasonably successful careers.

There were engineers amongst them, from various branches of the profession, and all had done it via apprenticeships. There was a  news reporter, who had left school aged sixteen and graduated from “cub” reporter on the local paper to working in Fleet Street. One of the engineers had left school at fifteen, done his apprenticeship and ended his career as an installation manager for an international company, which had led to him travelling widely to supervise installations. This rather contradicts the popular myth that anyone who failed the 11+ exam was deemed a failure for the rest of their lives.

We were the lucky generation because we had opportunities of which our parents could only have dreamed.

Our parents had grown up in the first world war, started work in the “hungry twenties” (they were only “roaring” for the better off), where they were sometimes the only wage earner in the family, lived though the great strike, the depression and then the second world war.

As children we did not realise the full horror of the war ( none of us lived in the heavily blitzed cities), and remembered our childhood games. The boys remembered playing on bomb sites and looking for bits of shrapnel etc., until chased off by a warden.

Rationing was part of our lives, but we had never known a time when shop shelves were full and you didn’t need a ration book, so we could not miss what we had never known.

By the time we started work  there was relatively full employment and (if you wanted it) a job for life. Our parents, who had known the mass unemployment of the thirties, put great emphasis on this security!

I think we were not so materialistic then and accepted that we would not start earning much until we finished our training. I think my brother received about 25 shillings (£1.25) a week when he started his apprenticeship. I received about £7  for my first month at Nursing School, but,  as I also got free board and lodging and laundry, this felt like wealth! I think we were probably the first generation with money to spend on ourselves ( not much, but more than our parents had had.)

 Those who lived at home had to contribute to the household expenses, but the rest of their salary was theirs. My father introduced me to the “rule of three” i.e. money left after essential expenses was divided into three, one third for rainy day spending, one third for short term saving and one third to spend. This seems to have worked even when the sums involved were very small.

This post could ramble on for pages so I have decided to divide it into eras before you all fall asleep 🙂

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