A taste of domestic service for Dorfy

OUR late dialect columnist Dorfy was writing at a time, between the two world wars, when domestic service was in decline.

The 'girl' who would help a busy middle-class wife and mother with washing, housework and looking after children was becoming a dying species.

It was something Mrs Dorothy Samuelson-Sandvid had direct experience of herself, as she revealed in her essay, Dorfy Knows All About Domestic Service, which first appeared in the late 1930s.

This is an abridged version, but please print it out if you wish to keep it.

"AA mind once hevvin' a spasm o' independence when Aa wuz young.

Aa had had some sort o' barney at hyem, an' Aa boonced mesel' up t' Harton t' apply for a job as a hoosemaid.

B' the time Aa had rung the bell, me temper had cooled an' Aa had lost aall desire for hoosewawk. But afore Aa cud run away, the door wuz opened an' Aa fund mesel' gettin' interviewed.

Cud Aa wesh? Cud Aa cyuk? Cud Aa bake? Cud Aa luk eftor young children? Aa had t' admit that Aa cud dee aall these things.

Had Aa onny uniform? "No," Aa says hopefully.

Did Aa object t' weerin' a cap an' apron?

Aa wuz painfully truthful in them days, so for aall Aa didn't want the job, Aa sayed Aa had nae objection t' uniform.

Throughout the interview Aa had been taalkin' in 'King's English' an' the wife wuz favourably impressed.

"You don't look at all strong, but you are very refined," sh' says.

Summack had t' be dyun – an' quickly. So in me broadest vornacular Aa says: "Wife, Aa'm that refined folks aalwiz thinks AA'M the mistress!"

Aa didn't get the job.

Nivortheless, wi' the idea o' ornin' money t' continue me education, Aa did tackle domestic sorvice. Me second job wuz a 'home from home' but Aa stayed exactly six days.

Aa wuz allowed half a bucket o' smaall coal t' kindle three fires with; an' the sticks wuz laid oot fo'z – foor sticks per fire.

A tin o' Vim in the scullery had a couple o' pin-holes powked in the top, an' Aa wuz forbidden t' myek them onny bigger. It wuz sitch a struggle t' get onny oot, Aa nivvor used it at aall.

On the sixth mornin' thor wuz nine bits o' stick instead o' twelve, but Aa myed not the slightest complaint.

Aall Aa did wuz gan quietly upstairs an' pack me suitcase.

As Aa opened the front door Aa hord me mistress shoot: "Do be quick with the breakfast Dorothy."

An' though Aa had wawked a whole week for nowt, Aa wuz amply compensated b' the thowt o' watt sh' must o' felt like when sh' come doon in sorch o' brikfast an' foond that 'Dorothy' had flown.

Aa wonder if SHE lit the fire wi' three sticks an' a shovelful o' muck?!