Saturday Girl

Two days after my fifteenth birthday

I walked proudly into Newman Costumiers

to begin my first job.

It was 1960 and I would earn fifteen shillings,

one shilling for every year, every Saturday.

Knitwear and stockings were on the ground floor,

all neatly stacked on shelves and in drawers.

I didn’t work there. That was Enid’s territory -

she of the bouffant hair and three inch stilettos.

Above were the coats and above them dresses.

All made in Britain, not China and so costing

much the same as they would do today.

Fifteen shillings didn’t go far.

On the top floor was Alterations,

two women stitching away

with a nip or tuck here

and a longer

or shorter



No customer was allowed to escape without a purchase.

We had to fetch the Manageress if they tried.

She would offer inducements such as

a price reduction or free alterations. 

Sometimes it was enough

to secure a purchase,

a tweak of the price,

a nip or tuck here

and a longer

or shorter



I worked there a full week during the school holidays

and earned two pounds, seven and sixpence,

not enough to buy my clothes there.

Come the winter custom diminished

and we Saturday Girls were sacked.

So I moved on from gowns to shoes.

Newmans gowns to Stylo Shoes,

both now long gone.


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