With the ‘A’ level exams over and a long summer holiday ahead, we were advised to go along to the dole office next to Yager’s to sign on and look for holiday work. To my surprise, I was offered a job, and even though it was less money than the benefit, I accepted the post as kitchen assistant at the bus canteen in Front Street, close to The Freemasons. I found out later that my friends had been offered it too, but gracefully refused; content with picking up their giros on Thursdays.
Turning up for work I was promptly given a sack of potatoes and a white tin bucket. Sitting on a three legged stool in the back yard, knee deep in peelings, I was reminded that lunches started at eleven thirty, and the corned beef pie still had to go in the oven. Day dreaming of the weekend, I enjoyed the warm July sun on my shoulders, wishing the time away so I could get home and get on with my sewing!
All my sewing and knitting friends advised me that it was much cheaper to be in fashion when you could create.
They boasted of ‘Fairisle’, ‘Cable’ and ‘Aran’ sweaters, while declaring the benefits of tailors chalk, tacking and the embroidery foot on an electric sewing machine.
Determined not to be outdone I chipped in for a ‘Butterick Wrap and Go Halter Top’ pattern. After choosing material from MacDonalds we planned to wear our creations on Saturday at the Trades, as a band called Brass Alley were playing.
The pattern had been used five times before I got it, so when it came to pinning it to the polka dot polyester it started to disintegrate. However with my feet on my Mother’s treadle machine I set to, extremely proud of my achievement. What I didn’t realise was, that although I had chosen Style C, I was following the instructions for Style B and couldn’t work out how the pieces joined. Undeterred by this minor hiccup, I sewed on relentlessly all week after finishing my shifts at the canteen.
Now, not only was I a proficient dressmaker but a dab hand at making mince and dumplings, leek pudding and jam roll poly.
Saturday couldn’t come too soon, but I still had work while my friends were window shopping, meeting at the bottom of the market and eating ice cream from Dimambros’s, trickled with monkeys blood!
I wasn’t surprised to find, they had not only finished and pressed their tops but had even made matching skirts and bought paleface tights at ‘The Wool Centre’ to finish off the look.
I worked until 5.30pm on Saturdays so arranged to meet at the Trades for 7pm. They were going to keep seats at 6 o’clock as we wanted to be at the front so we could get up and dance easily.
Sure enough it was busy and we were all crammed round a table wearing our new tops. I kept my bomber jacket on as I’d immediately realised that mine was slightly different from the others.
It was only when I got too hot dancing to ‘The Hunter’, that my faux pas was revealed.
Not everyone can carry off a halter neck top with the bust darts at the back!