There are so many themes whirling in my head today, not sure what to talk about! I missed Wedding Wednesday yesterday - apologies. Child and dog issues caught up with me again. Really, it is not a lie to say that a puppy is like a third child. I truly feel like I am back to the time when my eldest child was a toddler and I had no idea what I was doing and I felt like a constant failure. My hands are chewed to death, the house is trashed and don't even speak to me about the state of the garden.... On the plus side though, the puppy is always delighted to see me, eats everything that I give her (and much else besides!) and is gradually allowing me to meet people in the village where we now live. It is taking a toll on my time for writing, research and general pondering though!
So, today I think it would be interesting to think about jobs. This is prompted by eldest child last night saying "I still don't know what I am going to be!". I pointed out that he hasn't reached secondary education yet but unfortunately, he has a friend who is in a football academy and a friend who is swimming at county and regional level so he feels that he is a little behind! I also pointed out that these friends' achievements now by no means give a definitive idea of future career. Many things can happen to budding sportspeople.
I did start to think, though, that occupation is something which it is far more difficult to pinpoint for our ancestors than we might believe. I have written before about the benefits of internet searches and I gave the example of having found "cordwainer" as an occupation on a census and discovering that this was actually shoe making/mending.
Another example which I recently came across - when writing my post about the creation of the censuses - is that of "Ag Lab" given as occupation. A tree that I worked on for a friend in the summer had many generations with this as "occupation" on census returns. It stands, of course, for "Agricultural Labourer". Apparently though, it was standard practice to stick this down for a wide variety of countryside work. The census teams were short on time, they often had to assist people with filling in the forms and there was little space for a full description of what someone actually did. So Ag Lab may mean someone who lived hand to mouth, possibly as an itinerant and picked the seasonal produce, scythed fields, helped with ploughing etc as required. Equally it might mean someone with a steady farm job, a tied cottage and an established family.
It makes one ponder on what the modern day censuses will reveal in a hundred years time. I cannot now remember the categories for occupation in the 2011 census obviously. But I am sure that there will be job titles and descriptions which will cause much hilarity to 2111 researchers... Maybe all job titles will have vanished by then and everyone will simply have a number?! And technology will have moved on so much that they probably simply won't believe the number of telephone engineers, IT specialists, call centre workers and so on. To say nothing of the trend in recent years for "multi careers". Model/Actress/Whatever - what on earth did they write on their forms??!
Eldest has plenty of time to decide though. And if I look at my own employment record, I can see that it looks different for every census I have taken part in - I have been lucky enough to have a wide variety of experiences in my working life, from politics to the City to cooking to teaching to stay at home parent! Good luck with that, future researchers! I guess that brings us back to my post about keeping some things on paper for future generations to find. We cannot all write memoirs but maybe we should write something down about our lives. Otherwise we may end up as the Ag Labs of the twenty first century. We will be defined by the category that we ticked every ten years.