When I was fifteen I got a Saturday job in Wainwrights, the Milk Bar, on the corner of London Road and Tindal Street. All the girls wore a white overall with a red and black check pinafore apron and when Steve started, he wore a white jacket, like Mr Wainwright. We served milk and milkshakes, tea and coffee and Horlicks, and egg sandwiches. There was no juke box, and it wasn’t hip, but it was popular.
There was a group of people, of whom my sister, tragically for me, was one, who came in every Saturday. Val, the other Saturday girl, and I called them the In-Crowd. The boys were at the Grammar School and the girls were at the High School. They always had the same thing, Foxy had espresso – you had to go to the other end of the counter for espresso, and Steve had tea. Johnny had lemon squash and my sister and Marilyn and the others had the ordinary coffee. They would get their drinks and take them upstairs and sit for hours, taking up two tables, talking about horse-racing and records. They weren’t mods, and despite my sister’s best attempts, they weren’t really beatniks. The boys always wore nice jumpers, plain, no pattern, round neck, navy blue usually, sometimes maroon, and good jeans. The girls wore mohair coats, or in the summer shift dresses in blue or pink.
They weren’t mods, but they really were a sort of In-Crowd. And because they were two and three years older than me, it was a crowd I couldn’t join, even if I’d wanted to. Later, when Foxy worked in London and so did I we became really good friends. What a difference fifteen years makes.