When I was a teenager in the 60s, I had a Saturday job in a Bradford department store, Busby’s, now demolished. The Saturday girls all used to line up at 8.45 to be directed to different parts of the store. I soon learned that if I wore a smart black dress I’d be sent to Ladies’ Fashions, which was boring because we didn’t have many customers. Far better was to be sent to the busy Dry Cleaning and Laundry department where a group of elderly shop assistants spent a lot of time behind the scenes gossiping and making tea. I enjoyed their company and persuaded them to ask for me by name on Saturdays so that I too could enjoy their independence from life in the main store.
It wasn’t long before I got to know all the regular customers, including Jimmy Savile’s brother, and occasionally the man himself. I felt a bit uncomfortable dealing with these men, and didn’t know how to handle the suggestive comments. The old ladies, mother hens, clucked their disapproval and protected me. We developed a strategy which lasted several months.
A large plate glass window permitted us to see anyone about to enter our store. The ladies would shout to me to climb up onto the shelves behind the counter and hide amongst the brown paper laundry parcels. They were often questioned about my whereabouts, but they always said I must have been sent to another department, and protected me from any further advances, thank goodness.