I am a Baby Boomer.
I was born in a bomb-scarred area of SE London in 1950. I would probably have been born a year or two earlier, had my Father not been so very ill on repatriation from his wartime RAF service in Burma in 1946.
So, what is a Baby Boomer?
According to current thinking/publicity from the Government, we have EVERYTHING!!
If only that were true! We are not even allowed to have what we work for!
I and other working class kids who passed the eleven plus had a Grammar school education, which we were led to believe would give us the same life chances as those who (although maybe not so academically inclined or indeed so hard-working) were able to pay for. What a con that has turned out to be! Here, decades later, with even many of the poorest unable to take advantage of the new grants and loans, our kids are being priced out of the University market, leaving once again the benefit of a classical and traditional education to the rich, and once again we see politics and business alike dominated by the privileged Upper Classes. No change there then!
It is a fact that there was no great shortage of jobs in the 60s and 70s. My good (even for those days) ‘A’ levels and the year at college I was able to afford stood me in good stead, and I was offered every one of the many jobs I was interviewed for, and could pick and choose; eventually becoming an Executive Officer in the Ministry of Defence, where I met the man who is now my husband of 35 years.
Even then, as now, the Civil Service pensions were envied by others; what is seldom explained is that, although these were often said to be ‘non contributory’, in those days when I joined the Service, the wages were set by an independent body, the Pay Research Unit, which studied and compared our jobs to similar jobs in the private sector, and made salary recommendations accordingly – with a certain percentage withheld to pay for pensions – i.e. THE PENSION FORMED PART OF THE WAGES. The truth of this assertion that pensions were afforded by keeping wages low was proved when the Post Office split from the Civil Service. They immediately had to raise GPO salaries by several percent to compensate for the loss of pension rights.
Of course, this all meant that our pay and pensions were completely at the mercy of whatever government was in power at the time, and as subsequent governments got into financial trouble, they turned to the one thing they could actually control – Civil Service remuneration. So they abolished the PRU and kept wages as low as possible, to the point where they soon fell so far below those of their peers in the private sector that soon there could be no going back, so great would be the public outcry at the huge sums that would have to be found if they were ever forced to allow the Civil Service to catch up.
However, they could not work out how to get their hands on the imaginary pension pot, so instead they began a policy of turning the public against Civil Servants, making sure that the erstwhile comparison between public and private pensions was never general knowledge and therefore never allowing it to be explained how our salaries had been eroded over the years. As they had at the same time done their utmost to ensure that the Unions too had little power to gainsay them, it became generally accepted that all Civil Servants enjoyed privileged pensions and salaries whilst being lazy ingrates.
I left the Service early on, but my husband, a career Civil Servant, hardworking and scrupulous to a fault (as most of them were), and steeped in the Public Service ethic, stayed in to the (very) bitter end. Our growing family got poorer and poorer, he got more overworked and underpaid, so that after more than 30 years, people in the private sector with whom his job had been compared when the PRU was functioning, and who had had similar promotions throughout the years (without I might say anywhere near the responsibilities both moral and actual nor the onerous awareness of public accountability of a Civil Servant in a similar position), were earning almost double his salary as they neared retirement age.
Apart from those few lucky enough to benefit from the Right to Buy legislation, (most of us not having been lucky enough to be given – and I use the term advisedly – a council house, ) having paid market prices for our houses we overnight found our mortgages practically doubled; and so the rot set in and any chance of improving our housing situation melted away, as daily survival on one main wage (no benefits for the likes of us workers) became our main focus.
During this time, I gave up any idea of a career of my own (I had eventually become a successful linguist) to look after my children, and settled into a mish-mash of jobs (sometimes 3 at a time) to earn as much as possible whilst still being near home, taking on voluntary work as well to keep the brain cells going.
Gradually us Baby Boomers were supplanted by apathetic twelve-year-olds with degrees in ‘Media Messing About’ or similar, no experience and little sense nor the ability to string two words together, as they leapfrogged over those with a lifetime’s experience (and the ability to spell), and were promoted over our heads while we had to do the actual work and save their skins on many occasions.
But of course, with the economy going down the tubes, and the pensions we had expected to draw getting further and further away, us still working boomers found our grown-up children fared less well; although working, they were still relying on the Bank of Mum and Dad to get by, and of course we helped whenever we could, so we work on until we drop, insult heaped upon insult, not wanting them to go through the same worries and hardships we had to endure whilst still holding down jobs
Worn down and disheartened, us BBs gradually were forced into an uncomfortable retirement, or redundancy, or died of overwork and despair.
And that’s just the Baby Boomers’ facts of life at the Work Face.
The Baby Boomer’s facts of life on the Home Front may enlighten you further.