FORMER secretary Eve Willard (Observer, June 12) brought back numerous memories as I also graduated from the lowly role of shorthand typist to that of secretary and personal assistant.
I started my slow but steady progress in Mayfair in 1955, receiving £2 per week, working from Monday to Friday, and every other Saturday morning.
That princely sum enabled me to buy a quarterly season ticket on the steam train from Waddon, Surrey to Victoria for £34, smoke flip-top Churchill cigarettes at 3/8d for 20, enjoy a lovely sandwich and coffee in nearby Dover Street at lunchtime, and have my beehive hairdo kept in check at Taylor’s, Bond Street.
Because of coal smuts blowing back from the steam train, mother made me wear two pairs of white cotton gloves a day.
Working in such surroundings after life ‘in the sticks’ was a marvellous extra education, especially when wandering around Soho at the age of 16, as sexual matters were a mystery!
High-heeled winkle-picker shoes were the norm, along with flared dirndl skirts over numerous stiff petticoats.
Tights had not been invented, so 4/11d was paid for a good pair of stockings which laddered very easily. Nevertheless, we ‘young things’ looked fresh and feminine.
All too quickly I’m now 75 but still using dear old Pitmans shorthand from the age of 14, having gained excellent grades in shorthand and typing at a top-grade secretarial college, having passed a two-day English examination.
Needless to say, I’d do it all again as it was all a wonderful experience, taught me much and enabled me to be self-sufficient and responsible.
Thank you for the chance to share my memories with the many readers who shared the same experience and way of life.