Miss P. Wilson (b.1918-): Habits and Beliefs – Writing Lives

Miss P. Wilson (b.1918-): Habits and Beliefs

Routine played a large role in Miss Wilson’s and her family’s lives. From a young age she was taught by her aunts, unless and father to “do her part”. The first job in the family routine that became her responsibility was a simple one. From the age of seven, it was her job each day to light the fire in the living room when she got home from school. Everything would be laid out for her, all she would have to do is light it.

Miss Wilson was a cheeky child but she would always get away with it. We’ve already covered how she would steal oranges to give to her friends but her most mischievous action she made sure to chare within her autobiography. She put sugar in the salt basin and salt in the sugar basin when she was only seven years old as a practical joke.

“You can imagine what happened to me when they were drinking their tea.”

It was a common occurrence for the children and women of the mills to participate in the May Queen precessions. Although conventionally a schoolchild’s job, the women if the mill retained enough independence to organise their own march. Miss Wilson would attend parades like this and I believe it shared her political values. They all chanted, “for we call for we all, sweet dainties are we”.

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In a similar way to how Miss Wilson enjoyed marching to protect their local Sunday school in the 50’s I believe this was the genesis of that side to Miss Wilsons political psyche. It shown many people from working class backgrounds that protest and organised events could be used as a weapon of protest.

On Sundays, it was common practice for the whole family to attend church. They went to St Martins by St Auderies School that was built over five houses. Even once the school itself closed, the Sunday school remained open up until 1954, until then the community- including Miss Wilson and her family- would protest its demolition by standing outside and chanting “we won’t give up on Sunday school!”. This is a clear depiction of how entrenched superstitions can be even in communities in the present. Although I see this as a flaw, the tenacity to keep fighting for what you believe is admirable nonetheless.

Others could see this level of dedication to their ‘faith’ as positive with the same level of misguided belief systems that the family had. In this vein, Miss Wilson’s grandfather used to prove all of his children’s ages- in order to allow them to work in the workhouse- by taking the family bible with their names written inside. Although as an outspoken atheist I find this slightly disconcerting, it clearly shows how intertwined faith was the working class individual.

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Child Labour in Britain in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries edited by Michael Lavalette, page 70-78

Gender and Working Class Identity in Britain during the 1950s, Stephen Brooke, Journal of Social History, Volume 34, Issue 4, Summer 2001, Pages 773–795, https://doi.org/10.1353/jsh.2001.0043 ffffffffffff

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