Maggie’s questions this week are about our childhood dreams of what we wanted to be when we grew up. A tricky subject for me because as far as I can recall I never had any real idea of what I wanted to do with my life. My motto has always been that I work to live not live to work.
Do you remember what you first wanted ‘to be’ when you grew up?
I am probably a bit of an oddball in that I never dreamed of what I wanted to be but rather what I wanted to do, which was travel.
Any idea what inspired that dream?
Mum used to tell us stories of living in Malta, India and Egypt when she was a child. Her father was in the British Army and when he was deployed to these countries the whole family went along as it was for years at a time. She’d tell us about travelling on long distance trains and troop ships and I think that’s what started my wish to see faraway places. When I was a bit older, I read books about girls who went on holidays in Europe. “The Vine Clad Hill” and “Black Forest Summer” both by Mable Esther Allan were two that I loved.
What ‘job’ did you most emulate in play?
As a small child mum encouraged “Doctors and Nurses” and “School” as games we could play with our dolls but they didn’t stick. To this day I dislike talking about illness and injury and I hated school for the most part. We also played “Mummies and Daddies” but although I love my dolls I was not particularly maternal. Getting married and having babies didn’t figure in our childhood games much either. Most of our games were either pure fantasy or based on what we saw on TV. I recall playing “Gilligan’s Island” but being a castaway would not have been much of a career.
Did you have any idea what salary or pay you thought you would have?
Never gave it a thought.
Were there careers you knew you did NOT want to do?
Mum thought it would be good if I got a job in a bank. I thought that would be deadly boring. I did apply for a few bank jobs in later life but didn’t get them. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it really. It became too much about selling products IMHO.
Were you ever encouraged to follow in the footsteps of a family member?
Were you ever urged to join a family business?
No. Mum had worked in a family business before she was married but that was gone by the time she did marry and she was working factory jobs. The last two jobs she had before marrying were in a crisp (potato chip) factory and a laundry. After she got married, she didn’t work. Dad worked in a factory too. Ford at Dagenham.
Were you ever discouraged from a particular field? If so, why?
Did you have a Career Fair at school?
They didn’t really have them in my day but I do remember being given booklets about various careers and being taken on a tour of the local library although I am not sure if this was for career planning or to teach us about libraries now.
As an adult looking back, do you ever wish you had taken the direction of your childhood dreams?
It’s not a relevant question for me. I was so shy and such a slow developer. I do sometimes think that if I’d stayed in school longer, I’d have had more opportunities but high school was not a good place for me. After I changed high schools at fourteen, I just wanted to get out. I didn’t like having to do PT/sport or whatever you call it and home sciences. I was terrible at both and some of the teachers were nasty. I was stuck in a class studying Latin which I hadn’t studied for the previous two years. I had to give up German and they taught French at that school in an entirely different way so I went from A’s and B’s to D’s in a term. I used to walk to school hoping that I might fall over and sprain my ankle so I wouldn’t have to go.
I left school at fifteen and got a job in a shop. I just wanted to earn some money. If I could have made it to university or college I might have managed better as I would have been more independent but I still didn’t have a career dream at that stage of my life.
I think that the best thing that happened to me was becoming a railfan in my mid teens. Getting out on steam train excursions I met a lot of older people from all walks of life who treated me as an equal and I started to overcome my shyness. After David and I got married I volunteered for some years at the steam depot cleaning and helping out on trips. I gained a lot of confidence as my contribution was valued. I also gained the experience that helped me get into the railways a few years later.
Later in life I did consider that writing for magazines and photography could be a career but I never felt I could make any money doing that, too hard to break into. I do it now for fun by being a blogger and that makes me happy.
Watching episodes of “Time Team” made me feel that archeology might have been an interesting career but I would not have liked the being outside in terrible weather part of that job. I’d have enjoyed the research though.
On the whole I’m not dissatisfied. I did get to travel a bit although not as much as I would have liked. I loved my job in the railways for all except the last couple of years. Cleaning gave me a feeling of satisfaction, I got cheap rail travel and I started to enjoy talking to members of the public. I enjoyed being a housekeeper for the same reasons (no free travel unfortunately). I might have enjoyed working in the tourism/hospitality industries. I did, when I was in my early twenties, apply to a TAFE college to do a travel course but I wasn’t accepted. Now I volunteer at the local tourist information office and have the fun of talking to people about local places to visit so it all worked out really.