THE LAD IN THE LINGERIE SHOP — Introduction.
(Just to warn those who expect every story to head straight in to sex acts and the exchange of bodily fluids — this isn’t like that. Sure, there’s sex but it’s not on every page or even on every chapter. All the things I’ve tagged will occur during this story but not necessarily all in the same chapter. So don’t moan about that — you’ve been warned.)
“Take a seat Robert,” Mrs Conley instructed me. She was a rather frumpish, bossy woman getting on for 50 I’d say. I did as told and waited for her — a senior claims manager at the Unemployment Exchange where I “signed-on” to claim my unemployment benefit (dole money) – to review my notes outlining the efforts I’d made to find work since my last interview a fortnight earlier.
It was 1973. I was 20 years-old and had been unemployed for nearly a year. The old northern industrial town where I lived had a higher than average unemployment rate. The “smokestack” heavy industries had now largely disappeared and the cotton and woollen mills that were the big employers in this part of the world since the start of the Industrial Revolution were now a thing of the past.
Since leaving school at 15, I’d worked at Holroyd’s, the town’s most respected independent “gentleman’s outfitters” and wrongly assumed that my job was safe. When the owner of the family business informed the staff that he was selling-up and the premises sold to a property developer, it came as quite a shock to all who worked there.
To begin with, I was confident of being able to find a similar job quite quickly — I’d been given an excellent reference and was a skilled garment repairer, having been taught by my grandmother how to sew and use a sewing-machine. (Not that unusual a skill actually as, in those days, most people would repair ripped or torn clothes and sew back on buttons that had come loose or fell off rather than simply buy new garments as we do today: money was tight.)
Gran had been a seamstress before giving up work to raise her only child- my mother — and had possession of a sewing-machine on which she taught me all the skills necessary to make and repair all sorts of stuff.
Mrs Conley had warned me at my last interview with her that, as I’d tried and failed to get similar work with all the local outfitters and department stores, then I’d have to consider taking a job outside of shop sales and menswear. This was not something that appealed to me.
At the outset of my unemployment I did try diligently to get work but after months of disappointment, I rather got used to life on the dole: being paid to do nothing. What’s more, the rent on my small flat was being paid for by the benefits I was receiving.
I also knew that, according to the rules, as I had worked in a particular field and had a level of expertise, I could not be forced to take a job outside of that field — at least not if there were still jobs in that sector going. I had to prove that there were still such jobs out there.
So, after my last visit, I thought I’d hit upon a great idea; one that fulfilled my pledge to actively look for work and that would also show Mrs Conley jobs that could use my skills still existed. Also, as my applications were doomed to be rejected, I could carry on receiving my dole money.
This idea came to me as I walked home through the town centre one day. I passed a local, independent shop that sold clothes — “Pamela’s Panties”.
Well, it was a clothes shop!
Sure, there was no way they’d employ a man — anyway, they only had about 3 staff, it was such a small store. But applying for a job there fulfilled my contract with the Unemployment Office to actively look for work in my particular job sector. The letter rejecting my approach for a job there arrived within a few days of my applying.
Likewise, my application for jobs in the Ladies’ Fashion and Lingerie sections of some department stores such as Marks and Spencer, C&A and Debenhams, were quickly rejected.
After reading about my failed applications, Mrs Conley lowered her glasses and looked straight at me.
“You don’t expect me to take this seriously do you? I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous. You must know you’d never be allowed to work in a Ladies Underwear Store. Or are you some sort of pervert?”
I gave a winsome smile, believing I had her snookered and that — whether she liked it or not — I was actively seeking work and in my preferred field, thereby qualifying for further dole payments.
“But, Mrs Conley, don’t buttons come off ladies’ clothes? Isn’t there stitching on dresses and knickers that might need repairing? And remember, as my last employer said, I was accomplished at taking measurements, don’t bras and corsets need accurate fittings too?”
It was glorious watching her huff and puff and try to think of some way she could counter my points but, we both knew she couldn’t. She angrily ushered me out of the interview. My next dole payment duly came through that week without any problem.
Perhaps, at this point, I ought to fill you in on my sex-life and preferences in that department. You have to realise that this was well before the days of the internet and the easy access of porn. Sex-education at school was practically non-existent and, as I lived with my grandparents (my mum died giving birth to me, and my father – whoever he was – was never seen or spoken of), I didn’t dare bring home the porn magazines that used to fill the top shelves of newsagents. Some of my school friends would sometimes smuggle Playboy and the like in to school for us to salivate over, but that hardly amounted to sex-education did it?
The biggest turn-on available for me therefore was looking at the ladies’ underwear sections of the mail-order catalogues that most families used in those days – Freemans and Littlewoods being the main ones.
My grandparents bought stuff from these and so I often had opportunities to look through them when I was on my own. I was fascinated by the girdles and corsets, the stockings and panties, the nighties and suspender-belts: it was like taking a secret look at some forbidden world. These were the images to which I first wanked-off.
After leaving school and starting work I’d had a few rushed one-night flings with a couple of girls my age but, I think it’s fair to say, as I wasn’t that experienced, it was all a bit of a disappointment for me and for them too: I suppose you could say it was all an anti-climax. Even so, I was optimistic that, as the years went by, opportunities would arise and I’d become the experienced lover women wanted and I was confident I could become.
The thing is with these episodes, on reflection, the big thrill for me was not so much the actual penetration, but the feel and removal of the underwear! Maybe I’d spent too long jacking-off to the pictures of models in their underwear when in my teens.
Of course, being unemployed had not increased my pulling power with the girls and I had rather given up on going to the discos and trying to “pull” for the foreseeable future. It’s not that I was ugly or dressed slovenly — quite the opposite. I was about 5 feet 8 inches tall with a slim, wiry build and with light-brown hair but I was no wimp. Granddad, who’d fought in Burma in the second-world war, had given me boxing lessons and, although I was never one to seek out trouble, when any bullies at school picked on me — perhaps to mock me for being illegitimate (how times change!) –it was they who’d end up nursing a bloody-nose or a black eye.
No, I didn’t want to waste money on buying drinks for girls with whom I might not “get anywhere” and also, I was saving to buy a second-hand car, having passed my driving test not long before I lost my job.
As I’ve explained, it was necessary to keep on applying for jobs to keep the benefit payments coming in. There were still plenty of Ladies’ wear shops locally and many more within travelling distance in nearby towns I’d not yet contacted. I reckoned I could spin-out this little charade for a good few months yet. Mrs Conley would just have to keep authorising my dole payments. I was almost looking-forward to meeting her every fortnight and seeing her disapproving face.
After that meeting with her I’ve just mentioned, I called in at a local cafe for a coffee and a pie and noticed another lingerie store on the other side of the road. “‘The Lingerie Emporium’ (For all corsetry and underwear requirements)”
I had walked past this shop a few times in years gone by and remember being fascinated by the tailor’s dummies in its windows. I always tried to sneak a long peek at the corsets and panties and suchlike, never lingering too long in case someone saw me. The Lingerie Emporium was now added to the list of shops I’d write to for a job.
It was a large store and, from the look of it covered at least two floors. To my delight, as it made my application for a job there seem more “justifiable”, it also displayed signs on the windows saying they did personal fittings, alterations and repairs.
I composed my letter applying for a job there and posted it with a smirk. Another rejection letter was sure to follow and I would take this along to show Mrs Conley. (I’d made it clear I was a man just in case the store were in any doubt)
What could possibly go wrong?