REPRISE: (Please read “The Lad in the Lingerie Shop -Introduction” before reading this)
It’s 1973 in Northern England. 20yr Old Robert had been unemployed for nearly a year and had got used to living on his dole money. To convince the woman at the Unemployment Exchange Office that he was genuinely looking for work, he’d been applying for jobs in the Ladies’ Underwear departments of stores and in independent Lingerie shops, confident he wouldn’t be offered a job with one.
Mrs Conley, with her usual glum tone and disapproving look called me to her office for my fortnightly job- seeking appraisal.
Ordinarily this was something I didn’t look forward to, but since my little scheme of applying for jobs in Ladies’ Underwear stores validated my benefit claim and stymied her attempts to get me to look for work beyond the retail-clothing sector, I rather enjoyed the prospect. Seeing her having to grudgingly wave through my claim for further dole payments was a pleasure in itself.
I placed the form I’d filled in detailing my job searches in the last fortnight on her desk. She casually picked it up already knowing that it would contain a list of Ladies’ Underwear retailers, all of whom had turned my job application down.
She tutted and shook her head with disapproval as she started reading it. I relaxed a little in my chair, waiting for her to accept that, once again, I’d got the better of the system – and her. On turning the page over though, her demeanour changed a little; she sat a little more upright and peered at me over the rim of her glasses. There was a small grin on her pudgy face.
“So, you applied to ‘The Lingerie Emporium’ then and were, naturally, turned down. As you’d hoped no doubt”
Why had she picked up on this particular entry I wondered?
“Yes, I was turned down but I was very disappointed; I’m keen to get work again in retail clothing as you know,” I lied, barely able to keep a straight face.
“Do you have the letter from them?”
I did. I’d brought all my rejection letters with me so fished them out of the inside pocket of my jacket and handed her the one from “The Lingerie Emporium”. The look on her face as I did so unnerved me; it was reminiscent of a cat stalking an unsuspecting bird, waiting to pounce.
She didn’t bother reading the letter, but just looked at the top and reached for the phone on the desk and started to dial the number she must have been reading from the letterhead. I could hear the dialling tone at the other end and waited, uneasily, for it to be answered.
“Oh hello there, it’s Mrs Conley here, can I speak to Joyce please?”
She looked across at me as she uttered her next words.
“Tell her it’s her cousin Alice, Alice Conley.”
I gulped, sensing my plan might just be about to unravel. I wiped a little bead of sweat from my brow as we waited for Mrs Conley’s cousin to come to the phone.
“Oh hi Joyce, are you well?”
There followed a brief conversation exchanging pleasantries and then Mrs Conley got down to business.
“Look Joyce, I’ve a young man in front of me who has been unemployed for nearly a year. He’d previously spent 4 years at Holroyd’s the gentleman’s outfitters. He’s got an excellent reference. It seems he wrote to you for a job recently and, naturally, you turned him down, remember? I bet you don’t get many men wanting to work in Lingerie,” she laughed and waited for Joyce to reply, then began again.
“The thing is, he seems genuine,” she stared at me to convey that she knew I was anything but genuine, “and, a new government scheme has been given to this area to get long term youth unemployment down. Any business that takes on someone his age that has been off-work so long will get all his wages and National Insurance contributions paid for by the state for six months!”
Joyce then answered back, but I couldn’t make out what she was saying.
Mrs Conley spoke again. “Yes, that’s right. Six months at no cost to you or the business. I appreciate he can’t do any selling, but yes, if you think you can find other duties for him to fulfil, that’s great. It’d give you and your other staff more time to concentrate on selling and if, at any time within that six months he misbehaves or does anything wrong or has a bad attitude, he’ll have effectively sacked himself and won’t get unemployment benefit again for many months.”
Joyce spoke again for a little while and Mrs Conley, with a Cheshire-cat grin kept saying “yes” and “that’s right” and smirking at me. When she finally finished the call, I knew my bluff had been well and truly called.
“Right that’s sorted. 10a.m. next Monday morning, get yourself along to “The “Lingerie Emporium” where Mrs Ferguson will interview you. Don’t be late, don’t turn up looking scruffy and don’t you dare try and say anything that might undermine your chances of being offered work there. If my cousin says you showed anything but a keen attitude and doesn’t take you on, I’ll cancel your payments and don’t bother trying to appeal, you’ll stand no chance.”
She handed me my letter back and I got up to leave.
“Just a moment Robert,” she smiled, “aren’t you going to thank me for getting you the job of your dreams – in ladies underwear?”
The smirk on her face was almost unbearable to look at. I managed a false smile and thanked her.
I presented myself at the counter of the “Lingerie Emporium” at 10 precisely. I’d put my best suit and tie on and made sure my shoes were polished. I was aware of one or two of the women who worked there staring at me, but stared straight ahead. The woman at the counter must have been warned of my likely arrival, as, before I could speak, she moved away from the counter and held out her arm, directing me to follow her.
“You’ll be Robert I guess?” she said quite pleasantly. “Follow me, Mrs Ferguson’s expecting you.”
She led me past the racks of assorted ladies’ underwear and through a door that led downstairs to the basement where, in a back-office, my interview was to take place.
I’d rather expected Joyce – Mrs Ferguson that is – to resemble her grumpy cousin but no, in fact she was quite petite, maybe 5feet 6inches tall and with a pleasant demeanour. Maybe 45 to 50 years old, she sported shortish greying well-styled hair. Her fashionable, frame-less glasses hung on a chain around her neck which, when she wasn’t peering through them were allowed to rest just above a soft white blouse which, I couldn’t help but notice, enclosed breasts that seemed a little too large for one of her stature. I guessed – being in the corsetry business – she knew just what type of bra would emphasise these assets. In summary, she would have been quite a pretty lady some 20 years or so ago.
The interview went well. I knew I had to be on my best behaviour as, if I didn’t get the job, Mrs Conley would stop my dole. I reasoned that, after six months, Mrs Ferguson would realise that she’d then have to start paying me out of the shop profits and this might well mean she’d have to let me go – go back to claiming unemployment benefit again. I just had to keep my nose clean for six months and not do anything to get myself sacked.
Mrs Ferguson knew my old employer Mr Holroyd and she told me she’d rang him about me and that he was most fulsome in his praise (although a little surprised I’d applied to work in a lingerie shop).
“You’re trustworthy, good at repairing garments I hear and using a sewing machine too.”
I nodded, and she reached behind to get a garment that was laying on a nearby table to hand to me. (I couldn’t help but notice as she stretched and her unbuttoned cardigan fell away a little, just what a trim little waist she had which accentuated her bust even more.) It was a full-length, white corset, the sort I’d probably wanked over many times when looking through the mail-order catalogues of my youth.
“Take a look at that. Tell me what sort of stitching you’d repair the straps and clasps with and what size thread would you use?”
She nodded in agreement as I explained to her what size cotton thread should be used and also with what size needle and gave a number of alternative stitches that would hold the fabric in place under normal strains.
Next, she handed me a pair of light-blue rayon panties.
How would I repair the stitching in the gusset if it came loose? I answered to her satisfaction but added that, as the quality of the fabric was quite poor, it probably wouldn’t be worth the effort. Between you and me, I felt a little uneasy handling and talking about panties and gussets in front of her, but I knew I had to act professionally. I couldn’t afford not to be offered work here. I also felt my dick beginning to thicken a little under my trousers but I’m sure Mrs Ferguson had no idea.
I was told to report for duty at 8 a.m. the next day and wait by the side door where she – Mrs Ferguson – would let me in and show me around before introducing me to the other staff as they arrived.
I thanked her and tried to walk out through the store with as much dignity as I could, my secret “semi” still teasing me.
Once home, I routed out an old mail-order catalogue and studied the pages that contained pictures of women in underwear – purely from a professional angle of course you understand! (I did have a wank too. Well, I figured I’d have to drain my plums before going in to work, thereby minimising the likelihood of me having a stalk-on all day, not because I was some sort of lingerie-fetishist.)
Although I was nervous about my first day working at “The Lingerie Emporium”, I was kind of aroused too.
I set my alarm for 6 a.m. and tried to get some sleep, not with too much success.