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lizo27
02-11-2015, 01:48 AM
My MC is a WWI vet who abandoned the family business and moved to London. What sort of work could he be doing. Note: the family business in this case is necromancy, which is a respectable middle class profession, like being a lawyer or a doctor, to give you some idea of what class my character is from. Also note he's got a form of shell shock.

mirandashell
02-11-2015, 02:02 AM
Is there a problem with him being a necromancer?

flapperphilosopher
02-11-2015, 02:23 AM
I think more details are needed. The opportunities available to a 30 year old fellow who went to Eton and Oxford and was an officer in the war are going to be different than those to a fellow who didn't go to any fancy schools and joined the army at 18 and stayed a private the whole time. Upper-middle class professions like doctor and lawyer in 1910s England weren't just about your abilities--where you went to school and who you knew was at least as important, if not more. I don't know where necromacy fits in that kind of old boy's club, but it matters a lot.

Here are some things to consider--

a) how old is he? did he go to university? was it Oxford or Cambridge? did he go public school? what kinds of connections does he have?

b) what did he do in the war? was he an officer or enlisted? especially if he was an officer, he might know people with connections who could get him a job somewhere. consider skills, too-- if he worked with maps a lot, he might have a leg up on draughting, for instance

c) what are his limitations? does his shell-shock prevent him from dealing with things like loud noises, etc.?

d ) what is his character like? does he actually want a respectable upper-middle class job? would he be okay with getting a job based purely on connections or does it matter to him that he earns it? how desperate is he--can/does he want to hold out for a decent job, or just earn money? (as an able-bodied man in post-WWI England he could get a job doing any kind of labour in a second)

They don't all need to be answered here, though a couple big ones might be helpful, but if you don't already know the answers, maybe think about them a a bit.

Mr Flibble
02-11-2015, 02:25 AM
So white collar

Now apart from lawyering or doctoring, you need a profession where he won't need a qualification I'm guessing, if he's abandoned his old profession

Accountancy would be one (I think he'd still need a qualification, though things were rather less stringent then). A clerk to someone was a lower status but still not manual labour.

zellieh
02-11-2015, 03:13 AM
An educated middle-class man could do almost anything, if he's mentally or physically fit enough. He could become a manual labourer, or a shop worker, a clerk, a personal secretary or assistant. He might even by a typist, because typewriters were the high-tech computers of their day. Or a chauffeur or driver, because cars and lorries were also somewhat high-tech when horses still did a lot of the work. He could go into teaching or academia if he has the education for it, or politics.

But please don't call him a vet. Vet in british english usually means a veterinary surgeon. Veteran is okay, though.

King Neptune
02-11-2015, 03:32 AM
Banking was opening up during that period, and the requirements for entry were even lower than they are now. Some experience with necromancy might have been useful in banking then, as it is now. Although there was a business contraction immediately after the Armistice; business came back nicely in the 1920's.

KarmaPolice
02-11-2015, 03:34 AM
As well as the above, I also mention...

1/ What class does he come from? This period was very class-ridden; he would be limited in the types of job simply by his accent. It was also a good indicator of what education he'd had.

2/ Shell-shock (now known as PTSD) was too common for ex-soldiers of the period. Roald Dahl gave a good description of one of his teachers suffering from this in his autobiography. If the MC's family has money, there's a chance that an older uncle / whatever gave him a 'pity job' somewhere else.

3/ Does the MC have money of his own? In this period, upper-middle and upper classes liked to give some 'private income' to their kids once they'd reached 21/25. (Just see some Agatha Christie novels - nearly everyone seems to have a private income which means they don't need to work).

4/ Has his family done well out of the war? Some groups made a fortune - such as manufacturers, landowners (high food prices) etc. Some suffered badly - investers in Russian bonds, Irish landowners etc. Also, did the MC save money in the war? He might have been posted to a place where he couldn't spend it. Lastly, he might have inherited some money from family members who died in the war.

5/ You say the family business is necromancy. If it's a halfway respectable business in your WIP, I could imagine they're raking it in, specailly from people trying to contact loved ones who'd died in the war. In the RL, spiritualism became much bigger in the UK for this very reason.

6/ In RL, the UK had a sudden boom post-war, then went into a slump around 1920. This would linger through the decade, then it would slide into the Great Depression. Unless the MC had contacts of some form, there's a chance he'd end up doing a job like selling vacuum cleaners, stationary or the like door-to-door.

lizo27
02-11-2015, 04:26 AM
I think more details are needed. The opportunities available to a 30 year old fellow who went to Eton and Oxford and was an officer in the war are going to be different than those to a fellow who didn't go to any fancy schools and joined the army at 18 and stayed a private the whole time. Upper-middle class professions like doctor and lawyer in 1910s England weren't just about your abilities--where you went to school and who you knew was at least as important, if not more. I don't know where necromacy fits in that kind of old boy's club, but it matters a lot.

Here are some things to consider--

a) how old is he? did he go to university? was it Oxford or Cambridge? did he go public school? what kinds of connections does he have? I'm thinking mid- to late-twenties. Probably Oxford and public school.

b) what did he do in the war? was he an officer or enlisted? especially if he was an officer, he might know people with connections who could get him a job somewhere. consider skills, too-- if he worked with maps a lot, he might have a leg up on draughting, for instance Officer, I think. Not sure on details of what he did, will have to ponder that.

c) what are his limitations? does his shell-shock prevent him from dealing with things like loud noises, etc.? Well, this is part of the fantasy/AU aspect of the novel, but for him it manifests as being literally haunted by a comrade who died in the war. But I'd think similar limitations as would come with hallucinations and intrusive thoughts. Plus he drinks a lot.

d ) what is his character like? does he actually want a respectable upper-middle class job? would he be okay with getting a job based purely on connections or does it matter to him that he earns it? how desperate is he--can/does he want to hold out for a decent job, or just earn money? (as an able-bodied man in post-WWI England he could get a job doing any kind of labour in a second) He's pretty much running away from the family/family business because he doesn't feel up to handling it. I think he'd be fine with using a connection to get a job to get by and reasonably keep up a front of respectability.

They don't all need to be answered here, though a couple big ones might be helpful, but if you don't already know the answers, maybe think about them a a bit.

Much appreciated! This actually helped me flesh out my character quite a it, too.

lizo27
02-11-2015, 04:32 AM
As well as the above, I also mention...

1/ What class does he come from? This period was very class-ridden; he would be limited in the types of job simply by his accent. It was also a good indicator of what education he'd had. Upper middle, I think.

2/ Shell-shock (now known as PTSD) was too common for ex-soldiers of the period. Roald Dahl gave a good description of one of his teachers suffering from this in his autobiography. If the MC's family has money, there's a chance that an older uncle / whatever gave him a 'pity job' somewhere else. A pity job seems plausible. Maybe through an old teacher or a former commanding officer?

3/ Does the MC have money of his own? In this period, upper-middle and upper classes liked to give some 'private income' to their kids once they'd reached 21/25. (Just see some Agatha Christie novels - nearly everyone seems to have a private income which means they don't need to work). Maybe, but I'm thinking his father probably cut him off.

4/ Has his family done well out of the war? Some groups made a fortune - such as manufacturers, landowners (high food prices) etc. Some suffered badly - investers in Russian bonds, Irish landowners etc. Also, did the MC save money in the war? He might have been posted to a place where he couldn't spend it. Lastly, he might have inherited some money from family members who died in the war.

5/ You say the family business is necromancy. If it's a halfway respectable business in your WIP, I could imagine they're raking it in, specailly from people trying to contact loved ones who'd died in the war. In the RL, spiritualism became much bigger in the UK for this very reason. Answering these two together--it's something to think about.

6/ In RL, the UK had a sudden boom post-war, then went into a slump around 1920. This would linger through the decade, then it would slide into the Great Depression. Unless the MC had contacts of some form, there's a chance he'd end up doing a job like selling vacuum cleaners, stationary or the like door-to-door.

Thanks for the thoughts, guys! It's really helping me out, and not just with my original question.

ULTRAGOTHA
02-11-2015, 08:35 AM
If he was Oxford educated before the war, he probably was an officer in the Army.

Writing advertising copy. See Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers. That's set in the 30s and she was an Oxfordian who wrote advertising copy.

Civil servant, writer, artist, clergy, architect, physician, surgeon, statistician, publisher, reporter, scientist, teacher, economist, librarian, car salesman....

KarmaPolice
02-11-2015, 08:45 AM
For an public-school, Oxbridge gent who's worn pips on his shoulder, ending up as a clerk, salesman or the like would have certainly been a 'step down'. Ideas:

1/ General manager of some small firm. His old CO, a relative etc hears of the MC's predicament - considers it 'a scandal' what his father's done, 'specially as the MC's a veteran. However, they've got 'an interest' in firm X, and they pull a couple of strings to get him hired.

2/ As a 'London connection'. Say his old CO, cousin or a schoolfriend went off to the colonies and made a tasty little business out there (Plantation? Mining? Whatever) But they need a 'man in Blighty' to handle the work on that end. They remember the MC as being 'a decent fellow' and offer him the job.

3/ Stockbroker. If the MC's got a few friends in the City, he might consider playing the markets - if he's got some cash to invest, that is. While he might have been cut off by his father, chances are that some other relatives might still chip in, leave him some cash in wills, and the pile of back-pay he'd earned in the War. In this period the markets were much more sedate (in the UK, at least) - and insider dealing wasn't illegal at this time.

4/ Starts his own company. During the War, the MC gets facinated with some 'new' technology. Cars, Areoplanes, Radio etc. He teams up with some engineer (perhaps an NCO who'd served under him in the War) and goes into business. The NCO handles the technial stuff, while the MC manages the thing. Perhaps he sinks what cash he's got into the thing?

EDIT: Upper-middle class at this time liked to copy the upper class at this time - it was best to have your own 'country estate' and live off rent. Failing that, investments. Failing that, 'managing' something - though better to manage something on your own account than for another (someone non-family, that is).

Chances are, he wouldn't go into the civil service - they got real bloated in the War, and were in the process of being slimmed down. 'Direct sales?' Too vulgar. He wouldn't have any of the technical skills to go into the Professions (solicitor, accountant etc). Low-status job like a clerk, librarian etc? Might as well as become a navvy. (in the eyes of his peers at the time)

ULTRAGOTHA
02-11-2015, 09:02 AM
Well, OP did say he hallucinates and drinks a lot. I imagine after a few years he could be a few steps down.

Stockbroker is a good one.

He could work at Weatherbys (just about anything to do with race horses--registration, race cards, insurance, stud books, transfer of ownership) or for an insurance broker. Photographer's another idea.

waylander
02-11-2015, 01:58 PM
School teacher.
If he went to Oxford then he could easily get a job at a prep school or minor private school. old school connections would assist this.

KarmaPolice
02-11-2015, 02:24 PM
Let's clear up the phrase 'drinks a lot'. It doesn't automatically mean alcoholic. There's been plenty of heavy, steady drinkers around which still managed to keep a grip on the other parts of their lives. Some alcoholics too, admittedly. Also, drinking patterns have changed. I'm just old enough to remember when 'liquid lunches' were still fairly common in the UK.

There's nothing stopping the MC doing several jobs at once - doing some UK paperwork for a friend in the colonies, working as a high-class bookie and occasionally playing the market - if anything else, the last would allow him to say 'I'm a stockbroker' to his friends without actual lying...

lizo27
02-11-2015, 04:23 PM
By "drinks a lot" I mean he's essentially what we would today call a "functioning alcoholic." He drinks more than the average person, but it's not really a problem yet, and only those who know him personally are really aware of just how much he drinks.

lizo27
02-11-2015, 05:53 PM
But please don't call him a vet. Vet in british english usually means a veterinary surgeon. Veteran is okay, though.

Oh! Thanks for telling me.

KarmaPolice
02-12-2015, 12:37 AM
A functioning alky? Fine, he'll have pretty much no problem in the 20's. With the exception of some teatotal types, most men wouldn't bat an eyelid to a bloke who 'liked his drink'. In fact, some men would like him more, as a 'real man' could hold his booze. Unless he was obviously drunk by noon, got the DT's or was spotted drinking whisky on his way to work, that is - then they'd think he had a problem.

A different age, with different standards. Chances are, a upper-middle class gent from this era would smoke heavily, tell racist jokes, be condersending towards women and 'the lower classes', be either hypocritical or repressed sexually, scorn manual labour and view intelligence with suspicion.

Naturally, your MC doesn't have to have all of these traits, but if he didn't have at least a decent-sized dollop of some of them, it might jar a bit...

King Neptune
02-12-2015, 02:40 AM
A functioning alky? Fine, he'll have pretty much no problem in the 20's. With the exception of some teatotal types, most men wouldn't bat an eyelid to a bloke who 'liked his drink'. In fact, some men would like him more, as a 'real man' could hold his booze. Unless he was obviously drunk by noon, got the DT's or was spotted drinking whisky on his way to work, that is - then they'd think he had a problem.

A different age, with different standards. Chances are, a upper-middle class gent from this era would smoke heavily, tell racist jokes, be condersending towards women and 'the lower classes', be either hypocritical or repressed sexually, scorn manual labour and view intelligence with suspicion.

Naturally, your MC doesn't have to have all of these traits, but if he didn't have at least a decent-sized dollop of some of them, it might jar a bit...

I agree. If he could hold his drink, then it made no difference how much he drank. It was different before this strange new world in which people seem to fear strong drink.

Mr Flibble
02-12-2015, 03:18 AM
"Drinks a lot" is pretty relative. People tend to drink more in the UK without anyone thinking they are a functioning alcoholic. It's part of things (Though less so than it was -- used to be everyone would go to the pub for lunch and roll back to work). N one would bat an eye especially in the twenties -- right up until it affects work.home life (and for home life, well, it was almost expected in some classes tbh)

ETA: When I was in the States last, I got an incredulous comment about "how much you can put away". I'd had two halves of cider. Here that barely even qualifies as drinking. In the 20s that would have been even more evident.

King Neptune
02-12-2015, 03:38 AM
"Drinks a lot" is pretty relative. People tend to drink more in the UK without anyone thinking they are a functioning alcoholic. It's part of things (Though less so than it was -- used to be everyone would go to the pub for lunch and roll back to work). N one would bat an eye especially in the twenties -- right up until it affects work.home life (and for home life, well, it was almost expected in some classes tbh)

ETA: When I was in the States last, I got an incredulous comment about "how much you can put away". I'd had two halves of cider. Here that barely even qualifies as drinking. In the 20s that would have been even more evident.

Yes, the world has changed dramatically for the worse in recent years.

lizo27
02-12-2015, 05:28 AM
Yeah, I get that. Being followed around by a ghost is the real problem, anyway.