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Grantham Journal column: University is not vital

By Dr Gillian Sutherland

Peter Clawson.
Peter Clawson.

Congratulations to all those young people who got the exam grades they wanted.

They can now look forward to a university future, albeit debt-ridden. But spare a thought for those who didnt get the grades they wanted, yet will hopefully end up better off in the long run.

However, for those who still believe us old ones were more privileged in our youth, here are a few home truths:

n Most of rural Lincolnshire had no electricity in our childhood days, especially the poor. I know, I was there. Imagine it: no phones, mobile or otherwise, no television, no computers, even calculators, no iPads, laptops, etc, to be glued to. Maybe a radio, if you could get your accumulators charged regularly, since batteries were next to useless way back then.

n Central heating, hot water, running water, and all the things that go with them – mostly missing. No gas in many country places, just an open fire for warmth, cooking and boiling water, and bathing in our old zinc bath. Sick and ‘divi’ payments for a limited doctor’s health service.

n Grantham did have a proper hospital, but you couldn’t use it during epidemics, like polio. Do-it-yourself midwives, if you were lucky. Antibiotics? I don’t think so! The list of deficiencies could go on and on.

n Oh yes! The war. I almost forgot! We were bombed at Caythorpe – they mistook our railway station for RAF Cranwell.

n As for higher education – yes, you could go to university with grants, if you could afford it (no further comment.) Most of our parents couldn’t. In fact, many of them needed the money we could bring in from part- or full-time working, avenues to the future, perhaps apprenticeships in some instances. Sound familiar?

However, that didn’t stop us getting decent jobs in the end, plus the advantage of not running up vast debts in the process. Better off? Yes and no. But mostly no.


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