Archive for July 10th, 2009

Fashion and Dress Design — Jan.1949

July 10, 2009

I started work at the factory in 1949. I was sixteen and unprepared for factory life. A simple lass, nervous of the big wide world, shy and totally naive. I knew little about the world of clothing manufacture. I had spent barely one and a half terms at college, but at least, I was attending evening classes. But this was a factory and I had memories of what happened to my sister when she worked as a machinist for a local manufacturer. She began to swear. My dad (a prolific swearer himself but could not abide it coming from a woman’s mouth) said,
‘If another daughter of mine goes into a factory and starts swearing, I’ll cut her throat!’
Oo — he didn’t mean it but my dad could be fearsome and I hated to be around when he was angry.

What I did not bargain for was wolf-whistles. I blushed easily. The first time I entered the canteen a barrage of whistling met me. The workers’ union lady dealt with that. But whistling was not needed to make me blush. The male junior managers soon found out that staring at me had the same effect. Working at the cutting bench, I would sense someone there and look up at a grinning male. Laughter followed. When I took no notice they gave up but it was not easy — my cheeks were hot with embarrassment.

I soon heard plenty of sexy jokes. I was not sure what most of them meant but better to laugh or smile than look ignorant. The girls were generally a friendly lot. It was a difficult situation for me: I was on the staff payroll but working on the factory floor learning about factory methods while waiting for the designer to need assistance. To break me in I was given lots of roll ends and pieces to chop up with cutting shears. Cutting through several thicknesses at a time with heavy shears, my hands, especially my thumbs, became sore and blistered but eventually they hardened off. (No electric cutters then)

It seemed a shame to cut up large pieces of fabric but colours changed each season (and with slightly different dyes), and small ends were best out of the way. It would be sold as waste wool. Occasionally large ends would be sneaked away. One machinist made bathing costumes for her husband and friend. She told us that when they went in the sea the costumes soaked up the water and floated away. They had to leave the sea naked as the day they were born, to the hoots of their wives. A cutter did the same thing for herself and lost the bra part in the river.

More to follow…

Martin Shaw — right for When Angels Lie?

July 10, 2009

Each time I see Martin Shaw in television dramas, and when interviewed, I envisage him playing the part of Canon Nick Palmer in a TV drama series of my book When Angels Lie. He is SO right for the part. When I read my book, I see Martin Shaw and hear him speak, I see him dressed in robes for conducting services and presiding at Communion. I hear him speaking at conferences with authority, and quoting that psalm of love from 1 Cor.13 ‘Though I speak in the tongues of men and angels…’ I see him as the stronger partner of a loving relationship, a relationship which took him by surprise. But one which he was willing to let go (if necessary) for the love of the other. I feel that few actors could play the part of a gay senior cleric successfully. Within this particular setting, When Angels Lie is a unique story and Martin Shaw is a unique actor.
As for the other parts? I saw a photo of Joe Shaw. I don’t know him but he looks the part for the young cleric — Paul — that came into Nick’s life. I ‘see’ other actors playing vital roles too. For the ‘angelic’ Angela and charismatic Rita — opposite personalities but both causing big waves on what started out as a calm sea. The churchwarden with an axe to grind, Paul’s homophobic family. And the list could go on.
This would be an amazing production, topical and full of drama. Pity that it will never happen. Never? Well, I have tried to get in touch with Shaw’s agent. So maybe, just maybe…
Wake up, old girl — get real.