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
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
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.
This story was originally published in Silver Birch Press ‘My First Job series’, May 2017
Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem 'A Rose For Gaza' was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition 2014. This and many other poems, have been widely published in recent anthologies such as - ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Silver Birch Press, ‘The Border Crossed Us’ and ‘Rise’ from Vagabond Press and journals such as Apogee, Firewords, Pilcrow & Dagger, Indie Soleil, Light and Snapdragon. Find Lynn on Facebook or at her website.