shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


letter to the editor no. 7 (on paying the help)

This gem comes from The Times Literary Supplement's overall rather droll letters to the editor:

Skivvy at £20pa
Sir, – In his letter about Dirk Bogarde’s birth notice (January 14), Ron Haggart informs us that vacancies for women domestic staff were advertised “at the usual rate of £25 to £35 per month”. Derisory though such rates may appear to us, to unemployed cooks and maids in 1921 they would have seemed unattainable riches. The rates of £25 and £35 are surely annual?

I do not believe in any event that pay was expressed in terms of monthly rates then or now in Britain. This is a Continental custom; here pay was and is expressed in hourly, weekly, yearly, or piece rates. Pay at £400pa in 1921 would have satisfied the manager of a small bank branch or a middle executive civil servant. Pooter’s grandson, having worked his way up to £350pa, would reckon he had arrived and be placing an ad in The Times for a skivvy at £20pa and, within a few years, dreaming of buying a car.

183 Banstead Road, Carshalton, Surrey.


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