A Conversation for The 1970s

My work 70's

Post 1

Stuart the Wanderer

I left school in 1970 - aged 17 - and my first employment was working for the local council, finding jobs for unemployed youths (under- 18's). In those days unemployment benefits were paid in cash, weekly, and my job was calculating the amount due to each claimant during the early part of the week, ready to pay the money out on Thursday and Friday.

In 1972, the UK made the change from pounds shillings and pence ( 12 pence to the shilling, and 20 shillings to the pound)to decimal, and we had to work late every evening for three weeks to convert everything to the new system, and get geared up ready to pay out in the 'new money'.

My work 70's

Post 2

Trillian's child

Well, I left school in 1972 with 2 A levels and did a secretarial course in Cambridge, still living at home. During my sixth form years (1970 - 1972) I worked as a "Saturday Girl" in a local shop for a pound sterling a week. Actually, that was quite low even for then.

In the summer holidays, once I could type, I temped - almost entirely for solicitors. I can't remember what we got paid. Of course, in those days, we did shorthand and used mechanical or electrical typewriters. If you mucked up an engrossment (final legal copy of a Will, Conveyance, or the like) you had to start again. Rubbing out was not allowed. My fondest memory is the smell of hot paper in those offices in that heat.

In 1976 I worked for a year at a solicitors in Cambridge, earning 126 pounds gross, which, after tax, DHSS etc., came to something like 112 pounds.

Out of that I paid 25 pounds for rent (sharing a house with four students - we paid 125 per month for the whole thing), saved up to get married (which I did the next year) and ate. Sometimes I went to the launderette to wash my sheets. That cost about 25p to wash and 10 p to dry I think.

We had to dress up in dresses and skirts. I don't remember the men touching us up or anything. One did ask me out to lunch though.

After that I came to work in Germany. I got a job in industry and earned considerably more. We drunk a lot during work, never missing any excuse for a party, until someone killed themselves in an accident. Then it wasn't allowed. So we went off elsewhere - restaurants, organised barbecues etc, after work. Quite a lot of hanky panky went on.

I'm told.

Here it was much more easy going. I find people are the same everywhere. The biggest difference is between working for commercial enterprises, where you can type a letter three or four times and waste the paper, and a solicitor or architect or doctor who has to watch the pennies or even for a council office, where they are just odd.

In the seventies in Germany, people didn't necessarily wear ties to work (I mean the men). It was far more informal. I left to have children in 1981 and there was just the first talk of word processors then. I mean, we were still using Telex. For the whole firm of approx. 500 people we had a fax somewhere - probably by the switchboard - but I never saw the machine or a fax then. I could actually almost read the holes in the tickertape and decipher telexes.

By the way, my first temping job at the age of 19 was also a rather responsible one - handing out the keys to the new tenants of the Council Houses.

I certainly remember the changeover to decimal money. I was working in the shop at the time and had to work it all out for myself. The schoolings that the other shop assistants had were in the middle of the week.

Sorry I have gone on a bit. I hope I could recreate the atmosphere a bit.

My work 70's

Post 3

Wand'rin star

69-73 Lecturer English Dept haile selassie I Uni, Addis Ababa.
73-76 University of Malawi AND reception class of Sir Harry Johnstone Primary school
77-81 National University of Lesotho
Lived in 10 different houses in 4 different countries (there's a year in UK not working there) and had two children in African hospitals. I enjoyed nine tenths of my African decade and managed to avoid most of the fashion excesses: in Malawi women were not allowed to wear trousers and male flares could only be six fifths of the width of the trouser at the knee. Male hair could only be as long as a line drawn round the back of the head level with the corners of the mouth

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My work 70's

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