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Just a Saturday Girl #TeenInThe90s

We all had Saturday jobs in the 90s.  My first foray into work was Saturday girl in an old lady shop that sold tea-towels and big bras.  I think I earned £15 a day which was given to me in a brown envelope at the end of every shift.  It was the most money in the world.  That with a mix of baby-sitting and waitressing, were my first footsteps into the world of work.

Then when I was 16, in between my obsessions and homework, I managed to hold down a regular evening and weekend job at a popular men’s fashion store in Ilford.

My job came an extension of my social life.  I got paid somewhere around £4.50 an hour to talk to ‘fit’ customers, visiting school friends and colleagues,  and on occasion, I even folded Tshirts. Untitled design (6)

Ilford was hardly a style mecca and the men’s shop I worked in was basically the best of a very limited offer.  Popular for the  choice of Ben Sherman shirts, 501s and Kickers shoes,  it tried desperately to be hip and trendy.   Management sent us tape cassettes full of eclectic mixes of LL Cool J, St Etienne and the Cardigans – horrible mixes that everyone in the store hated, staff and customers alike.

There was a lot a lot or romance going on in the stock room.  I remember taking the rubbish out with a colleague and having an illicit snog in the lift on our way to the big rubbish bins. It was the first time ever I got paid to do something I shouldn’t and it felt great.

Even better was that a lot of mates worked in the neighbouring stores. We’d go and stand over the other’s till and gossip right through lunch-break and then later get dressed for a night out in the mall toilets.

I made so many friends through my Saturday job, that when I look back now, some of those Saturdays and Wednesday evenings, even the Boxing Days and Christmas Eves, these days are as important to me as those spent at school or on nights out.   Somewhere subconsciously I was picking up life-skills as well as having a great time with great people.  And true story – my husband always asks me to fold his jeans and T-Shirts for him as he likes my ‘professional’ style.   All that training finally paid off.


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*The 96 diary entry above makes me sound like the ‘bitter bitch’ – not the girl I was referring to. The poor girl had done nothing wrong but be my ex-boyfriend’s next girlfriend. She was actually lovely but I had to maintain an irrational hatred for her.  Sorry! 


If you’re wondering how much the 90’s high-street has changed from the high-street we love today, the answer’s not much.  Sure we lost Our Price and Woolworths, but the River Island, Debenhams, Burger King – the big hitters – they still all reign supreme.


If you like YA and are interested in reading more of my insignificant ramblings, then why not sign up to Beta read my first novel – whooohooo. Who knows, you might just like it (if you hate it then keep it to yourself). 

Writing

90s Indie clubs – The Island Ilford. Part 1

In 1996, I spent a lot of my time thinking and obsessing about Friday nights at an indie club tucked around the back of Ilford.  A barely converted cinema, with two levels of alternative music and cheap drink.  It was a magical place where anything could happen.

I grew up in this weird little corner of the world where London meets Essex. My early clubbing experiences involved bright coloured mini skirts and getting off with boys in pastel coloured shirts and curtains. But in May of 96, a much cooler friend took me with her to Supersonic, an indie/rock night that changed my life.

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I was late to the party.   Before the bibity-bops of indie took over, the club belonged to ‘Alcatraz’ a heavier rock and grunge night.    I’m kind of glad I missed it.   Making the transition from dance to indie wasn’t easy, and Supersonic was just the right balance of kitsch, disco and heartache to make me feel at home.

The folk at The Island were special. When I was sixteen, kids at my school,  spent a lot of time trying to look like replicas of each other, but not there. Within those walls we knew no uniform, Doctor Martin’s , big (fake) fur coats, black lace, black T-shirts, 70s flares, Adidas tracksuits, lumberjack shirts, 60s miniskirts, you could be whoever you wanted to be.

Downstairs was indie poppy – your Blur/Oasis fare with an 11 o’clock party mega-mix normally including Abba, Madness and Dexy’s midnight runners (who didn’t loose their shit to ‘Come on Eileen’?) .

It was massive, there was a dance floor that went on for ever and a large bar that stretched the whole of the downstairs, serving cheap Jack Dee with Coke and Snakebite- purple fizz that made you feel like a child and an adult all at once.

Upstairs was for a different crowd. The smaller space thrust with metal and rock, hard kids with attitudes, their long hair flying and chains jangling, as they jumped in the air.

The stairs themselves were hideaways – you could get lost under them or fall in love or fall in sex or fall in whatever.

I fell in love countless times on a Friday night. The Island was a pick and mix of surfer dudes and grungers, brit-poppers and rockers.  My favourite was a boy with spiky black hair, a 70s shirt,   jeans with chains and eyeliner…he once played a Green Day song on his guitar down the phone to me.   I hope he never got old.

A night at The Island cost £10 tops.  We’d bus it there, walk it home, get drunk before we walked in.     They were the best times of my life.


As well as being the best 90s club, The Island was also a popular music venue and bands that performed there included:

Oasis

Babybird

Sleeper

Mansun

Genesis


News: On the 7th of September 2019, Supersonic will be hosting a REUNION, in ILFORD. If you want to dance the night away like your whole life is ahead of you, click here.

If you like Indie, 90s and YA you’ll love my book A Future SomewhereYou can read the first chapter here 

and its free on Kindle Unlimited or 0.99p