I was one of the early members of what was then called the National Housewives’ Register founded by Maureen Nicol, now known as the National Women’s Register (Mothers of the revolution, G2, 27 February; Letters, 26 February). I was a typical bored, lonely, graduate housewife and the Manchester Guardian was my lifeline.
Our first child was born within a year of our marriage to be followed by two more, and it was not usual for professional women to return to work until the youngest child started school at five, or went to one of the new playgroups then being set up. Even then, it was mostly teachers who started working because they had the huge advantage of being at home for the school holidays. It is extraordinary how much has changed. We had no phone; no washing machine until the arrival of the second child, and then it was only a little twin-tub so that wet clothes had to be hauled across from the washer to the tiny spin-drier; no car, so I could only go as far as I could push the pram until the youngest could go in a pushchair and we could use the bus. The Register put me in touch with five other similarly placed women and we would meet at each others’ houses to talk while the children squabbled round us. On the other hand, we were able, with some help from our parents, to afford a two-up-two-down house in leafy Surrey for £3,150!
• Great to see Beccles NWR mentioned. I was a stay-at-home mother with four under-fives and those Beccles meetings were such a morale booster. I will never forget a particularly fervent evangelist coming to explain her extreme beliefs. An exasperated member stood up and told her that her religious masturbation was a step too far and she should go away. I’m glad the group is still at the forefront for women.
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