Climbing the Stairs: Further Tales of a 1920s Kitchen Maid

By Margaret Powell

From the grand homes of Brighton to enforcing London mansions, existence as a kitchen maid should be laborious and demoralising. It's not only being on the beck and contact of the folk upstairs, while even the kids of the kin can deal with you love airborne dirt and dust, yet having to house temperamental chefs, starchy butlers and chauffeurs with a roving eye.

Marriage is the single get away, yet with one night off per week Margaret has no time to lose. among Perce the bus conductor (who brings his mom on dates) and Mr Hailsham the fishmonger (who appears to be like - and scents - similar to his wares), her preliminary customers are hardly ever the stuff of dreams.

But then she meets Albert; a butcher boy-turned-milkman. might he be the suitable husband? and will she make definitely the right spouse whilst, as she quickly discovers, years spent serving others don't arrange you for coping with your individual existence? quickly Margaret starts off to ask yourself - how can a person like her ever enhance their station?

Told along with her trademark wit and heat, mountaineering the steps is a special, sharp-eyed story of a time while the assumption of masters and servants started to lose its sway, and of a notable girl who grasped the possibilities of this courageous new international with either arms.

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Albert attempted to get a role as a milkman yet at the moment there weren’t any going. whilst he went to the labour alternate there has been the alternative of 2 areas. One was once with the gasoline corporation as one of those stoker and the opposite one was once a furnishings remover. So he went to the furnishings removers and so they provided him the activity. The wages have been very low, simply 5 kilos per week which even in 1945 wasn’t a lot. yet even at that it was once greater than it have been. within the previous days it was once like being a docker. You went into the warehouse and if there has been no paintings you were given despatched domestic back with no pay. yet even though the wages have been low the paintings was once attention-grabbing which i feel is critical. I suggest it’s way more very important to have low wages and do a task that you just particularly like doing than to have excessive wages and grind away week after week at whatever that bores you to tears. It wasn’t static, now not sitting in your bottom in an workplace from 9 to 6. It wasn’t even like a milk around the place you’re going round the standard consumers for seven days per week two times an afternoon. You’re going all over the place or wherever. Albert went as much as Scotland, into Wales, correct down into Cornwall and he was once assembly diverse humans forever. And he learnt approximately furnishings and antiques of every kind. ultimately he turned a packer simply because he used to be the sort of cautious workman and he used to work out to the costliest china – like these Dresden figures that have been in all nooks and crannies and value hundreds of thousands of kilos. He nonetheless bought an identical funds yet he regarded on it as a kind of advertising. The hours have been abnormal – whilst you’re relocating someone’s furnishings you can’t say, ‘I’m knocking off now,’ by way of 5 - 6 o’clock. It can’t be left on the street, can it? yet we didn’t brain abnormal hours simply because we’d been used to them while he was once a milkman. firstly I bought very anxious while he used to be overdue coming again at nights. I used to consider the entire poor highway injuries that there have been and sweetness if anything of the kind had occurred to him. yet, as he acknowledged, if whatever did hit their pantechnicon they wouldn’t have suffered I take into accout one very foggy evening, it was once ten o’clock they usually must have been again at 5. i used to be that fearful I rang up the chief of the enterprise to work out if he’d had any information of them. He acknowledged, ‘Mrs Powell, I’m apprehensive too. They’ve acquired 10000 kilos’ worthy of old furnishings on board. ’ There’s phrases of convenience for you! I acknowledged, ‘To hell along with your antiques, I’m brooding about Albert. ’ That riled him. ‘Well,’ he stated, ‘what do you think that i will do? Take a lantern out to appear for him? if this is the case, you’ve acquired one other bloody imagine coming. ’ And he slammed the receiver down. speak about old-world courtesy. Albert’s had a few unusual jobs. One position they went to used to be an outdated lady’s apartment the place she stored twenty-four cats. The council had positioned a mandatory relocating order on her. It used to be too negative for phrases. where smelt like a sewer. And this outdated expensive used to be in tears simply because those cats had obtained to visit a cats’ domestic. She knew all of them separately – she’d lived with them for years.

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