The Anonymous Widower


There has been a lot of talk lately in how those with power and money have got their children work experience, which is of the highest class and out of the reach of those without privelege and wealth.

It has always been thus.

Take my example.

My father was a successful letterpress printer in Wood Green.  He employed half a dozen people and we lived comfortably in the days before letterpress was replaced by offset litho.  Much of his work was for a company called Enfield Rolling Mills, that as the name suggests rolled metals into something useful.  In their case it was non-ferrous metals, like copper, bronze and aluminium, which were turned into bars, sheets and cables.

So when I got my place at Liverpool University to read electronics, and I needed some work experience, he decided to do something about it.  His business wasn’t that healthy too, and he had told me that, he wouldn’t be able to find me work for the summer.

In his usual manner, he started at the top and phoned John Grimston, the Earl of Verulam, who was the boss of his largest customer.

They found me a place in their electronics laboratory, where I had my first lesson in controlling processes.  I also learned a lot about industry, health and safety, the various trades and their unions and of course life, which gave me a lot of rich anecdotes I use to this day. Only today, I related to my physio, a story about lady cricketers gleaned from one of my colleagues.

To say that internship, as we’d call it today, changed my life, would be an understatement.

But I got it because my fsther knew someone with influence.  And also because he never felt anybody too grand to ask for a favour.

April 7, 2011 - Posted by | Business, World | ,


  1. Take a different view on this one…

    My beloved Father was a mechanic of some talent…he could walk past an running engine and tell you what wasnt right about it….and would have coat off and the spanners out to fix it…He worked for a large foundry firm in Sheffield.

    At 16, I did an assessment for training as computer programmer…and was very much wanted by Dad’s firm. I turned it down…much to the annoyance of Dad.
    I would have been treated as Henry’s daughter…and not as myself. That wouldnt have done at all….no way, not for me.

    My younger brother did go and work for the firm…and he was treated as Henry’s son….just as I told him would happen.

    I have stood on my own size 4’s…work and university wise.. and there was no-one more proud of me than my beloved Dad.

    Was I wrong? Dont think so….


    Comment by Apricot | April 8, 2011 | Reply

  2. I can see both sides. My first saturday job was at the dept store my mother had worked at before she had me. It was only a temp thing over Christmas, but it gave me some experience so I could get a better paid Saturday job in a different store when that one ended.

    When I was working I was often asked if I could provide work experience, sometimes year 10/11 for a couple of weeks, sometimes 6th formers wanting experience for uni apllications. I had strict rules. Firstly, if the young person couldnt ring me or write to me themselves, I wasnt interested – it shocks me how many parents arrange their childrens work experience placements. If they wanted half a day a week for uni applications, they had to start by October half term in year 12 and attend regularly until July year 12 if they wanted a reference. School students, I generally tried to take young people in hair and beauty or leisure and tourism. Odd for a cancer hospital you might think. But I managed volunteer projects, and a lot of those were linked to body image, and dealing with spare time which many patients had. I was apparently a popular venue for year 10/11 girls.

    Comment by liz | April 8, 2011 | Reply

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