Uniforms from Turnbulls
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Many will still remember George Turnbull’s tailor and outfitters who provided generations of children with their school blazers through the 1960s and ’70s.
Everyone comes to Turnbull’s for their school uniform.
A brand-new blazer sat at the top of the drawer, staring at me, telling me in no uncertain terms that summer was over. Underneath, the wooden drawers slide open with a smoothness that somehow was in keeping with the rest of the shop, smooth, classy, timeless.
“Mum, no one even wears blazers anymore,” I told her in vain.
“That’s not what your teachers said,” she insisted.
There was no point in arguing. Coming to Turnbull’s for a uniform was about as sure a thing as the sun rising and setting. It was a real highlight for my mum. She loved the service, people making a fuss over us, measuring me for my blazer, talking to my mum about what she had been up to. I didn’t look forward to going back to school (who does?) but even I’ll admit I enjoyed being made to feel like a movie star for an afternoon. How often do you get fitted clothes?
My mum was the youngest of 4 girls, so she only ever got hand-me-downs from her siblings, so I think she did this for me partly because she never got it herself.
The assistant wrapped my blazer in brown paper and tied it with string, it looked like a present that I wouldn’t want to open.
A bell sounded as someone else came into the shop, another kid being told in no uncertain terms that playtime was over. I turned round to see who it was.
No way. No. No no. Not Jamie from Geography!
That obviously wasn’t his real last name, I just didn’t know what his real name was because he wasn’t actually in any of my classes. Ok, he wasn’t even in my year either.
But I knew he took geography because I saw him go into that class once and I know he’s called Jamie because a teacher shouted at him once. So, he’s Jamie, from Geography.
What are the chances that the most handsome boy in the world goes to my school? I’m so lucky! And then what are the odds that he comes to Turnbull’s for, wait, is that…he’s getting a blazer too!
What are the chances that we both need blazers and we’re both getting them fitted at the same time on the same day?
I just need to play it cool; I think. Should I say hello?
No. Just walk past and say nothing, maybe just nod at him, show him you’re mysterious and aren’t just a wee girl. Maybe I sho-
“Charlotte, do you need any new pants while we’re here? I remember you said the other day that they were a bit worn out?”
Turnbull’s wasn’t a small shop. But when mum shouted that to me from across the shop floor while I waited at the counter, it felt like I was standing in a phone box with Jamie from Geography. And not in a good way.
Jamie from Geography looked at me and laughed. It annoyed me that even when he’s laughing at me, he’s still the most handsome boy in the world.
The bell rang again. Thank God. Another person coming in for their blazer.
Something to take attention away from me while I focused on trying to make my face go back to its normal colour and not this beetroot shade that I was suddenly wearing.
I looked to see who it was.
Stacey from science.
Where is this going? Oh no…
Well, at least Jamie stopped laughing at me, it’s hard to laugh when someone has their tongue in your mouth isn’t it.
I told you. Everyone comes to Turnbull’s for their school uniform.
Map location of silhouette
Inspired by the numerous personal accounts from the 1960s and ’70s, recounting their memories of George Turnbull’s outfitters which occupied 43 Newmarket Street in Ayr. Many remember buying their school uniforms and blazers there.
Written by: Graeme Rennie
Illustrations by: Toria Cassidy
Audio by: Rebecca McCallum Stapley
Audio recording and mixing by: Scott Andrew