Alterations (2006)

Location : Norwich

I was born 20/04/1933 in Switzerland where I went to school.

My parents were called Fritz and Marie.

I had 1 sister and 2 brothers.

I joined Jarrolds in 1975 – 1993 when I was 42.

At that time I lived in Norwich. I worked the local Co-op.

I saw an Advert in the local paper and started in the Alteration Department.

My tasks were shortening, letting out or taking in, lifting waists, shortening sleeves. Altering clothes that people had bought at the shop. We didn’t do men’s just women’s. Lots of people aren’t the standard size. We got all shapes and sizes.

We worked mainly with the sales staff on the fashion floor. The shop assistant would come into the room and ask us to go out and see the customers. We used to spend quite a lot of time with the customers. We only really had contact with the managers when something went wrong and sometimes things did go wrong. They would step in and speak to the customer and then us.

We had quite a big bridal department and we would have to go out fitting. It was at the time when the dresses were very full, like Princess Diana. And we had to lift a lot of them from the waist and take them to pieces.

I found the bridal quite worrying sometimes because you had a dress which was quite a lot of money on the table and you could prick your finger and get a bit of blood on it. Also I recollect that one girl came in and she was very short and the dress was very full. We had to lift it from the waist and it had also a valance at the bottom and it had three things of embroidery on the skirt and she had to come for a fitting and I had to tack it. She insisted that itwasn’t her dress because the dress was so long. In the end they had to give her the money back. I remember Mr Richard coming down and saying “Well, there is nothing we can do. The customer is always right.”

We were also involved in the fashion shows. We helped to dress them. But that was all.

We worked in a little back room in the store.

I trained as a dressmaker in Switzerland.

The people on the sales floor didn’t know much about dress making so we had to make judgements and decide whether it could be done or not.

Well, to start with, the bridal gowns were very full, but later they were much more simple.

I saw Hovells going up in flames.

(Regarding her retirement) They always had “do’s” for people who retired and as it happened the buyer of the coats department was also retiring so we had a really good do together.

We had a buffet. We had speeches. They were all there. Everyone. All the staff. Mr Richard was very good at this. It was very enjoyable.

Every Christmas we had a party. We had a meal. We used to have them at different places.

Once I had a lady called Helen Frazer. She was in a television serial. I had to shorten a pair of trousers for her. I had to pin them up for her. That’s my only claim to fame!

The store altered where we had to work from. Now we have Benjamins. There was a stock room behind that which was the work room. The corner there, looking into Bedford Street.

The sales assistants really took time to advise people. I don’t know if that’s the case now but sales assistants worked jolly hard and advised them.

I really enjoyed working for Jarrolds. They were a really good firm to work for. They looked after you and appreciated what you did. I liked the people and I liked the atmosphere.

Sometimes it was a bit hard work and boring. Well, like any job I think. But I enjoyed my time there definitely.

I worked from 9.30 – 5.50, 3 days a week.

I worked at Jarrolds for 18 years.

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