“Mornings were used to teach the basic three Rs and to progress us through our Janet and John readers. I only learned much later, in my thirties, how limited Janet’s activities had been in comparison to her brother John’s and how some scholars linked these textual role models to teenage girls’ ‘poverty of aspiration’.”
Brenda moved to London and learned nursing in the traditional way, all hospital corners and ‘nurses never run’. Heulwen determined to establish Welsh language schools and didn’t stay at home with her own children. Let down by her married lover, Dot was treated appallingly by the dragons of the Moral Welfare department.
Like many other aspects of life, education in the 50s and 60s for most girls still meant segregation not just by gender but also by eleven-plus. Grammar school set you up for life, whilst secondary modern meant you were one of the ‘losers’. More married women went out to work, but women in the Civil Service still had to resign on marriage. The pill promised freedom, but wasn’t widely available for another ten years and abortion remained illegal until 1967. Though the ‘swinging sixties’ passed most of rural Wales by, they did bring electricity and the Dansette and the music of the Beatles…
Originally published by Honno in 2003, with a new edition in January 2010.