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Keeping on the general theme of shared expertise and experiences, I have decided to set up this new page.  I have no real set plans as to what it should contain - it will largely depend on input received from our site visitors.  In other words, it is down to you!!!!

I am sure the first piece will resonate with many of you, and if you are too young it really is an insight into how things used to be.......


by Diana Tranter

I absent mindedly adorned my “doggie trainers” to come into work today.  I hadn’t realised the “boats” I had on my feet were  my “doggie shoes” until it was too late…I was nearly at work. 

My mind reflected back – all those moons ago – when I was a mere 17yr old, fashion conscious young lady.  Our regular dress for work was very smart – us girls always wore a knee length skirt with matching ‘box’ jacket, plus our fashionable shoes which in those days were stiletto heels with winklepicker toes.  Long beaded necklaces were in fashion at that time and we would wrap the long string of beads twice round our neck so the beads would hang like a double row of beads, laying neatly against our ‘little’ chests.  We were all very trim in figure, mostly a size 6-8-or 10. 

Our hair would be backcombed into a style we called “Beehive”.  Indeed our top knots would resemble just that – a beehive perched on top of our heads. 

If the morning was at all wet, we would wear a 3 cornered headscarf (like the style the Queen still wears today when she is casually dressed in a headscarf).

Sometimes I would arrive in the bathroom at work with my headscarf neatly concealing my hair rollers as I would not have wanted the damp weather to make my hair curl.   Before I got to my desk, I would have spent a quick 10 minutes, backcombing my hair into the fashionable bouffant style.

cartoon beehive hairstyle
man holding umbrellal under clear blue sky The men would, without a doubt, be dressed a pin stripped suit with sharp creases in their trousers, wearing a bowler hat perched squarely on their head (‘bonce’). 

They would strut along with their brief case in one hand and a rolled up umbrella in the other.  Their shoes would be black and well  polished and if they had wanted to look particularly important, they would have carried a folded newspaper under their arm. 

Along the pavement we would walk past ‘boot boys’ who, for a small fee, would be ready to polish our foot wear if we noticed our toes had been scuffed en route to work.

One day when I arrived at work, I witnessed a young rebellious lad in the office who had dared to come into work wearing BROWN lace up shoes.  He was sent home immediately to change into black shoes.  Brown shoes were not appropriate for “office wear”, unless it was a Saturday morning when the brown shoe would be tolerated but we still had to wear our suits.  A man could wear a plain grey suit on a Saturday i.e. no pinstripe.  A young girl I worked with came into work once, wearing a gathered skirt, no jacket but instead wore a shawl around her shoulders.  Our boss was onto her like a ton of bricks and she too was sent home to change into a suit !!  This young girl lived at Golder’s Green and we worked in St.Swithin’s Lane, near Bank/Cannon Street underground station.  She had to be sure to hurry to get back to work before she would have been in trouble with “Mr King” for a second time.  He had given her a time frame in which she had to get back to work.  She had to return in a taxi to meet the deadline.

We were never referred to by our first names, but always “Miss”, “Mr”, or if the boss was scary enough, then we would call him “Sir”.  No women in those days carried on working much after they were married, so I don’t recall a “Mrs” at work.  My desk was next to a little old spinster named Kitty.  She was my saviour and helped me learn correct office procedures etc.  Over the years, I have sometimes been reminded of Kitty and I have wondered how old Kitty actually was at the time – probably younger in years than I am now, but in those days people lived hard lives and she would have resembled someone of over 100yrs old today.  She had white, wirey hair, held together in a little bun shape at the back of her neck – and she stooped over.  Maybe she was a Charles Dickens fictional character come to life to help me adjust from school girl status to a working ‘Miss Collins’.

One other thing I remember is that we all had to be at our desks before the hour, in readiness to commence work on the dot of 9am.  If we were a few moments late, we would have been in trouble, and a delayed train would not have been the correct answer as to why we were late.  We were always told we should have caught an earlier train if ours was delayed (never mind if the earlier one might have been held up on another line). 

No answer was satisfactory if one was late for work.  We would have had to forgo part of our tea break or lunch break to make up the time, or if Mr King was in a particularly nasty mood, he would make us stay behind after 5pm.

cartoon man telling off another

….and returning to today (….in this century – ha!  I like it!)……. it wouldn’t matter if I continued to wear my doggie trainers at work.  Nobody would take any notice at all…….and did I actually brush my hair before I came into work?  No, probably not.  How times have changed !!  I am also late for work most days !!  Nobody cares !!


The following are some messages received from a lady who is a retired vet assistant, she enjoys art and pottery and is a "hands on" grandmother to her three grandchildren. She would like to hear from other people in a similar situation, to exchange tips,  ideas and experiences.

"I have just bought about a 60 year old piano bench at a yard sale.  It looked pretty rough, but was sound, has a design that will mix with anything, stood firm and missing the hardware that allows the seat to fold back but the price was fabulous and I brought it home.

I live in a small home and we use a lot of small pieces that can serve several purposes.  I stripped several layers of white paint off and discovered this beautiful cherry wood.  We  use the bench for anything from an actual bench to a t.v. tray, desk to write bills, do homework, craft table, sewing table -- has good storage and I left the seat loose, so I can put it on the floor or on a table to use as a cutting or ironing board.  They're cute, old and a lot of fun ... wish I had one in every room."

"I have been recycling and creating denim items for almost 20 years.  I began hand-embroidering my own designs on jeans, shirts, purses, everything!  Now I make purses, pouches, cover notebooks, book dust covers, make book bags, throw pillows, cover lampshades, the list is only limited by your imagination.  I made a cover for my sewing machine, place mats and napkins.  I especially love the purses, because I can embroider them and customize the style (pockets, handles, etc.) and the best;   they're washable, which with grandchildren is a must for me.

"I am beginning my first denim quilt from my scraps and so far so good.  I just the idea because the cloth is so durable and I believe that denim reflects our generation just like our grandmothers' scraps reflected theirs.  My plan is to line it with recycled flannel shirts but I may just go buy a piece of flannel.  I plan to embroider simple designs on certain squares and tie it with colorful embroidery thread.   I would love to hear from anyone who is a quilter with advice or who has made a denim quilt."

In response to this I received the following suggestions for using old denim -

  • as trim on cuffs and bottom of sweatshirts
  • cut off pockets and reuse on sweatshirts

Anita Segner sent these hints in - thankyou.

Advantages of Getting Older

In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.

No one expects you to run into a burning building.

Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

People call at 9 p.m. and ask, "Did I wake you?"

People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

There's nothing left to learn the hard way.

Things you buy now won't wear out.

You buy a compass for the dash of your car.

You can eat dinner at 4:00.

You can't remember the last time you laid on the floor to watch television.

You consider coffee one of the most important things in life.

You constantly talk about the price of gasoline.

You enjoy hearing about other people's operations.

You get into a heated argument about pension plans.

You got cable for the weather channel.

You have a party and the neighbors don't even realize it.

You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.

You send money to PBS.

You sing along with the elevator music.

You talk about "good grass" and you're referring to someone's lawn.

Your arms are almost too short to read the newspaper.

Your back goes out more than you do.

Your ears are hairier than your head.

Your eyes won't get much worse.

Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them

Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

You have great friends who think of you often and send you lists like this!


We now need more articles, observations, stories, features, poems etc. whatever you would like to share - don't by shy send them to us at june@hintsandthings.co.uk. I look forward to hearing from you.




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