Gretel comes from Austria. Sheeighteen years old. Shegoingstay withClark family foryear. Gretel has comeEngland because she wantsimprove her English. She works as an au pair girl. She helps Mrs Clarkthe houseattends English classes regularlyher spare time.
Gretel hasn' t beenEngland longeverythingstrangeher. She often compares lifeLondon with lifeVienna. Some things are nicerLondon; other things are not so nice. For instance,shops are biggerLondon thanViennatheregreater variety. But it's more expensiveenjoy yourselfLondon. It's expensivehavemeal atrestaurant orgoa theatre.
Gretel has got usedmany things already, but she can't get usedbreakfastEngland. "You English eat so muchthe morning," she often says. "Fruit juice, porridge, baconegg, tea, toastmarmalade! How can you face all that food so earlythe day?"
Maria had decided that as soon as she had finished school she would become an au pair girlLondon. Twoher friends had already spentyear withfamilyKensington,told her they had had an interesting timehad managedlearnlotEnglish. She was advised by her Head Teacherget her parents' consent andmake allnecessary arrangements priorher departure: have enough moneyher return fare, know exactly what kinda family she was goinglive withwhat they expectedher.
Shortly after her eighteenth birthday Maria receivedletter from Mrs Hutchinson,wifean advertising executive, statingtermswhich she would be employed. The Hutchinsons liveda houseChelsea. They had three children; two boys, aged fourteenten, both at boarding schools,elder atPublic Schoolthe Midlandsthe younger atPreparatory SchoolSurrey;
the youngest child wasgirl aged eight,she wentthe French LyceeSouth Kensington. During term time Maria would havetakegirlschoolthe morningfetch herthe afternoon. She would havehelp Mrs Hutchinsonthe house - washing up, makingbeds, layingtable, dustingrooms, answeringdoor, taking telephone messages, shoppingrunning errands.
She would be guaranteed three eveningsweek freecould attend English classes either from eleven till onethe morning or from half past one till fourthe afternoon. She would receive 3week pocket money. Maria was delighted withconditionsthought that they were fair. She also likedlookthe family, as Mrs Hutchinson had thoughtfully enclosedphotograph with her letter.
It was nothing forgirl t.o be sent awayservice when she was eleven years old. That meant leavingfamily as she had never been parted from fordayher life before,goingsome place miles awaybe treated likedog. I've got nothing against girls going into good service.
In my opinion, good servicea properly run big house waswonderful training forlotgirls who never would have seen anything different alldaystheir lives if they hadn't gone. It was better than workingthe land, then,ifstill existed now,reckon I'd rather see anymy daughters begoodhousemaid orwell-trained parlour maid thandolled-up shop-assistant orfactory worker.
But folks are too proudworkother folks, now. even if it'stheir own advantage, though as far ascan see you are still workingother folks , whatever you're doing. Big houses didn't want little girlseleven, even as kitchen maids, sofirst few ycars hadbe putsomewhere else, before you got even that amountpromotion.
Big houses expected good service, but you got good treatmentreturn. It . wasn't like that atsortplace my friends hadgo. Mostly they wentthe farmers' houses within ten or twenty miles from where they'd been born. These farmers werejumped Up, proud lot who didn't know howtreatpeople who workedthem. They took advantagethe poor people's needget their girls off their handsget little slavesnearly nothing. The conditions were terrible.