Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 30 January 2017

Where it started

My last post spoke something of my current work situation, it may be interesting to note that I have now been running this business for longer than any other period of employment I have ever had.   I consider that I have actually now had four careers, but each of them has included a few different jobs.

It all started way back in the seventies when Harold Wilson was still Prime Minister of the UK, it was then that it slowly started to dawn on me that my idea of going to one of the few music colleges around then was not going to be fulfilled.   If I couldn't do that then I might as well work in a bank, so that was what I did!

Doing a paper round hadn't really prepared me for any proper work (especially since when ever I could get away with it I would do my round wearing a gym slip I had acquired) so I followed advise that since I was good at maths and couldn't spell for toffee I should try working in a bank.   Not the first or the last time I have followed some pretty s#@t advise.

My first place of Employment
My timing was ideal in that it meant I could both afford driving lessons, and get a cheap loan to buy my first tuba.   Not so good in that I had the "joy" of experiencing the summer of 1976 while I had a contractual obligation to wear a suit to work every day.   This was in the days before Margaret Thatcher so we still had banking regulations that would stop us lending to people who couldn't afford repayments, had to record all foreign currency transaction, and wrote in ledgers with fountain pens.   In so many ways this was a different age, including what to modern eyes was quite startling institutionalised misogyny.

On my first day the branch messenger introduced himself to me by his first name, but always called me "Mr".  He told me that he looked after the tea and coffee, he would make the drinks, provide biscuits and collect the money.   "Of course the girls look after themselves" The "Girls" included the first cashier in her mid forties!

In those day, although not so long ago many, many things at work were very different
  • We had to put in a red light bulb to use the photocopier.
  • Only men contributed to the Widows and orphans fund or (I think) were automatically enrolled in the pension fund.
  • Men were obliged to wear suits, women to be "appropriate"
  • Only the year before I started, the Bank had been forced by law to offer subsidised mortgages equally to men and women.
  • I never met a female officer of the bank above the level of first cashier
  • I worked for NatWest for about 18 months before I met a black employee ~ and I was working in PECKHAM!!
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