Getting Inside Mary Portas' Knickers
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Getting Inside Mary Portas' Knickers

Manchester : United Kingdom | Jul 09, 2012 at 4:48 PM PDT
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Mary Portas - Secret Shopper episode 03 Fonehouse

Have no qualms about the objective of this escapade; it is solely a marketing exercise for Mary Portas who is in the process of revamping her own image after finding that like all other sectors, marketing has taken a turn for the worse along with the economic climate. Essentially, this project has little to do with grossly overpriced ladies underwear, the unemployed or helping the economy in any way, shape or form. It's all about keeping Mary Portas in employment.

Portas is re-opening the sewing room floor at a factory owned by British nightwear manufacturers Headen and Quarmby. It was one of 11 thriving textile factories in Middleton, now it is the only one that remains. Established in 1935, the factory used to employ 60 machinists and produced thousands of items a week before competition from cheap imports forced the Company to send production abroad.

In the first of a three part program the red haired lesbian, who is really a grey haired lady with a dyed bob-cut, chooses her trainee sewing machinists from around 200 applicants who had answered the heavily advertised campaign in the hope of appearing on the Channel 4 program. It is evident from the selection made that all the 'trainees' were selected, not for any ability they might possess, but for the entertainment value they clearly demonstrated in interview. This is after all a Channel 4 television program; home of 'Big Brother' and viewers find value at criticism of themselves.

Meet The Cast:-

Adrian, age 25 from Middleton

Adrian left school aged 16 with no qualifications after battling to overcome his dyslexia and the affect it had on his learning. He's always had artistic flair, loved sketching and designs and so trained as a painter and decorator at college. However, a series of upheavals in his family life meant that Adrian has spent the last few years moving about the country, and has since been unemployed for a year until joining Mary's team of trainees. Most recently he was employed by the local council as a Neighbourhood Warden, a job he loved, but was let go due to cut backs.

Andrew, age 20 from Rochdale

Young father Andrew is determined to provide for his fiancée Sarah and baby son Bryan. Andrew has never seen his parents in steady work, and wants a better life for his own family. During his childhood, Andrew and his siblings changed schools several times as his Mum moved from place to place following her break up with Andrew's father. Andrew left school with no qualifications and has never had a proper job.

Emma, age 22 from Rochdale

Emma lives with her boyfriend of seven years; she hasn't had a steady job all her adult life. She left school with seven GCSE's but has never had a particular direction in life. She is part of a generation of local girls who have been left behind has the factories closed for good. Emma loves to customise her own clothes, and wants to have proper skills so she can save up for her wedding.

Georgina, age 25 from Middleton

Single mum Georgina left school with no GCSEs. Since having her daughter three years ago she has fought hard to earn her qualifications, completing 4 GCSEs at night school. She is now planning to study for her A-levels. Before her daughter was born she worked in call centres and insurance services. Working at the factory will be her first permanent job since becoming a full time mum.

Julie, age 22 from Bury

Julie comes from a family of machinists, and left school with a passion for Art and Design. She once had aspirations to go to University but now has her heart set on sewing. Both her Mum and her Nan worked in the textiles industry. Julie recently made curtains for her Mum and is a bit of a whizz on her sewing machine, despite having no formal training. Julie was bullied during school for being overweight, and as a result she has never had any confidence, and being unemployed has affected her friendships. She wants to be proud of herself and be able to afford to buy new clothes and repay her parents for always helping her.

James, age 21 from Middleton

Former lab technician James lives with his parents and has been unemployed for a year. Despite being out of work he has aspirations to become a success and sees himself as a manager one day. He left college to complete his apprenticeship, gaining an NVQ in Engineering, which resulted in a full-time job as a laboratory technician testing composite materials for planes and other industry. He hoped to move onto bigger better things as he joined a new company, but the job wasn't what he had hoped for and so he left.

Lesley, age 35 from Middleton

The eldest trainee to join the factory, Lesley is from a family of factory workers. Her mother was a flat machinist and her father used to hand-spin cotton. Lesley's first job was working alongside her Mum as a machinist but failed to stick with it.

Lesley has had numerous jobs throughout her life, including working in a pickle factory and at Manchester Airport, but she has been unemployed for 18 months. Lesley is a passionate musician, self-taught on the guitar and always dreamed of being in a band. The Lesley Cracknell Story.

Lauren, age 24 from Radcliffe

Lauren is one of eight children and has been unemployed for nine months. She left school with no qualifications and has tried her hand at numerous jobs - from radio presenting to working as a cartoon character in a children's play centre. She has had so many jobs that she worries her CV looks like she never sticks at anything. She says that since she was 16 she hasn't really known which direction she wants her career to take.

Headen and Quarmby was founded by Lynn's parents in 1935. Lynn's nephew David now runs the company, while Lynn oversees production. She has worked at the factory for 45 years.

"We were reluctant to let our skilled girls go - we were so very fond of them. It was heart-breaking to say goodbye to them....when we had to move production abroad."

Lynn now heads up the production of Mary's Kinky Knickers and is overseeing the training and development of all the trainees.

Headen and Quarmby Staff:-

Jackie Blakeley, aged 56 From Middleton

Jackie works at the factory producing prototypes and new designs before they are mass-produced overseas. She is a highly experienced machinist and only got kept on once the production was out-sourced overseas because she is one of the few who can work every single machine. This skill is needed for when making up samples prior to production.

"It's strange being the only one left. I loved working alongside all the girls, but now it's just me on my own every day."

Jackie is now working alongside Myra to train all the apprentices as a supervisor.

Myra Parnell, age 57 from New Moston

Myra has worked as a machinist since she was 15. Since being let go at the factory she has worked evening shifts at Tesco, but desperately missed working in the factory. She was a respected Supervisor and has experience training up school leavers. She was devastated when they were made redundant (she was one of the last to go).

"It was heart-wrenching when the redundancies were made....I'd give my right arm to go back."

Myra has returned to the factory to work with Jackie supervising and training the apprentices.

In summary, the whole exercise being to market Mary Portas as a product and to keep her from the depths of unemployment and keep her marketing concerns afloat. But it will do nothing for British Industry or British workers. It serves to demonstrate the decline of British made goods and in a marketplace where one can purchase the same product for a tenth of that which Portas aims to sell her product at, just goes to show this woman is a lunatic and has not got a clue about what she is doing.

What will happen is once the hype of the program has finished, in a month or two, those whose hopes have been given a lift will be given their notice and will once more join the dole queue with the experience of being embarrassed for a long time to come after being given the chance to make fools of themselves publicly by partaking in a project designed specifically for the entertainment of the same viewers who sought such value in programs like Big Brother.

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Mary Portas
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MarXPacENews is based in London, England, United Kingdom, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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