But I was put right the other day courtesy of dear, dear Julia McKenzie who did the most scary 'a life in the day of' at the back of the Sunday times mag (I don't take it personally re being allergic to Rupert Murdoch, but I do sometimes glance over a neighbour's shoulder.)
Now perhaps like me you were always quite warm to Julia in an oak table and Aga sort of way. But be warned she is not to be messed with and thoroughly dangerous. Here for your safety and education I reproduce snippets of the evidence. Please don't show this to children, especially if they are not yours, and please don't share with any invalids currently receiving treatment in an NHS hospital. I most certainly don't want to be responsible for any ulcerous flare ups!
It was all very 'I don't wear make up in the country, but I do enjoy a slice of ham. I wear a headscarf in Waitrose, I'm not for being recognised'.
Here are some actual gems.
'I have several cups of tea. Then I shower and get into a pair of jeans and a white poplin shirt, my uniform. If a fairy granted me a wish it would be the ability to put an outfit together. I do try, but the result is not good. My friend Una Stubbs, who’s very crisp, tells me what I should and shouldn’t wear. She’s the most fashionable person I know.'
'If I’m going to Waitrose, I put on reading glasses and a brown woolly hat. I’m really not to be seen.'
'If I’m going to be away working I make vats of soup for Jerry’s lunch out of guilt. But I do love the days I come up to London. I wear different clothes, mainly black, and put a little make-up on.'
'I love my Aga. The trick is, knock your repertoire down to six recipes and don’t venture. And I do like a good spring-clean. Chaos makes me nervous.'
'I’m not really a country person. I’m set at town speed.'
'And we’ve got a terribly active village hall, where we have pub nights. We’ve got a licence and someone will start passing round something they’ve cooked, and it’s all very nice. Amateur dramatics, on the other hand, presents a line that should never be crossed.'
'We always eat unsociably early, around 6 o’clock, because Mother’s digestion isn’t what it was.'
And so on and so forth. Fantastic but not quite right. She probably had to take a lot of strong pills in the 70's when everyone's parents lived on gin and tonic, and had sheepskin car coats. That's what I put it all down to anyway.
But the thing is I'm worried that I don't always get the ladies, so it is possible that I may be reading Julia all wrong. It has certainly been suggested recently that I may not be suited to managing women of a certain age. Now I took this as quite an affront, but let's not delve too deeply for legal reasons. However it did make me review my approach.
I'm all for making the most of any potential learning curve, so I took my query to the local lending library where I was confident I would be furnished with the necessary advice and guidance.
Unfortunately I was thrown asunder on my way there. I needed to buy a greetings card (so sorry to hear your gout is weeping) and experienced the following in my local Birthdays.
The woman in the shop was on the phone to the girl who had not come in. Bear in mind this is 11 am.
Woman: Are you coming in today?
Girl: (gleaned) No I ain't got no money.
Woman: well you still have to come to work, you have a commitment to your work place.
Girl:(gleaned) whatever - I ain't got no money, sumfin 'bout mi Gran.
Woman: well will you be coming in tomorrow, cos I'll need to get someone to cover if not.
Girl: (gleaned) Nah I can't be bovered.
Woman: well you'll have to ring Clare and tell her you're not coming in.
All this excitement enabled all the old dears (advanced ladies) in the shop to gather round the till and do a 'in my day you dragged yourself in even if your eyes were bleedin'. One old dear asked of the woman 'is she a young girl? Yes well they don't have no sticking power' I don't think she was concerned about her double negative usage; It wasn't high on her list (under the radar).
When I got to the till, it took a while as everyone else in the shop had quite a low IQ, the woman said to me something about the girl in a 'I really do want to carry on talking about this and getting all the customers involved and debating the values of employment in this modern day throw away society' sort of stylee. I said to her, 'well at least it gives you a wonderful opportunity to say 'you just can't get the staff these days' which I took to be very funny, and a great opportunity to roll out one of my old standards.
She didn't really see it quite the same and ended up trying to over charge me by 10 pence (new) in the confusion.
As you can imagine I was even further off kilter re the employment of women so I was very grateful to Hilda, my local deputy assistant reference librarian who was able to supply me with some tip top guidance on ladies in the workplace.
We found the following tips from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine.
- Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they're less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn't be doing it, they still have the pep and interest tom work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.
- General experience indicates that "husky girls those who are just a little n the heavy side - are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.
- Give very girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.
- Stress at the outset the importance of time, the fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.
Well you can imagine what a boon these were. Although I had always been led to believe that the way to a woman's heart was through a nice pin cushion.
I think however my new policy will be to only communicate via mime - I think it might be for the best.
So there you go
All the best from the west.