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So here we are in what could be a cross between an exotic gypsy caravan and some kind of souk full of lustrous, silky flimsies and interesting bejewelled ‘items’, definitely NOT talking about Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge popping in for consultations (that’s still Kate Middleton to you and me), or for that matter that her formidable mother, Carole from just down the road, is supposedly a client.
No, we are at Angela Knight’s lingerie and swimwear shop in Bridge Street, Hungerford to get the gen on the enchanting town, and much of this chit-chat is ‘not happening’ while Angela is scrutinising my naked boobs before striding off (I imagine her rummaging in a mysterious treasure chest) and returning with a bra. For decency’s sake, let’s record that I am behind a curtain for much of this, but then it swishes open and Angela, who hasn’t measured an inch of my flesh, does a sort of magiciancum-performance artiste thing which involves swift sleight of hand where she jiggles your breasts, and I am transformed into something approaching a sexy beast courtesy of a bra that I’d normally pass by as ‘fine if you’re still in your 20s’.
It fits perfectly, though nowhere near the size (inches or cup) that I’d usually buy. All we need is a flight of white doves to complete the magic act, but there are enough feathery things on display here. Magicians, of course, use deflection, and
I’m sidetracked by thoughts of Royalty and celeb clients from across the world going through the same intimate experience.
“There’s a lot of money in Hungerford,” Angela reveals. “It’s all the racing syndicates and such like. Then there’s the ‘old school set’ – the old money – and the people who come from London.
“Everyone knows Catherine came in here just before the
Royal Wedding (Harry and Meghan) because someone told the Daily Mail. They contacted me, and there’s the dilemma – who knows what they might write if you don’t at least try to get the facts straight. Anyway, yes, she did come in, but no one
actually buys here… she just happened to leave with some bags, like everyone else.”
It’s one startling revelation after another. Next she tells us: “Actually I don’t even like lingerie, but I love what it can do for women of all ages.” All the silky stuff is ‘a front’, she says but that at 52 she doesn’t care if people think she’s on drugs, mad or both.
Then there’s a little ‘rant’ about feminism. Our power, girls, lies in nurturing males with food and sex, she declares. It’s not just spiel, but a life’s work. Angela’s spent 30 years in design and couture, ‘tarting up’ (my words) women of all ages, espousing the sexiness of everything from raunchy corsetry to show-off mastectomy bras.
We head to the till where Nadia Murray, who’s been with Angela five years, invites me to deposit my old bra in what we might dub ‘the carrier bag of shame’ hanging on a wall – I peek in to see others’ abandoned dreary wear and them lob mine in to join the reject pile. Remember, no one actually buys things, you just leave with bags. I’m wearing my new perky ‘upholstery’, so no bag for me, unlike Kate M, but I still feel like a duchess. angelaknightlingerie.com
Hungerford people look after each other. We don’t think there are many places where someone would make this sort of effort to reunite the owner of a dropped piece of costume jewellery with their treasure
ABOVE:The unstoppable and extraordinary Angela Knight
People kept recommending The Tutti Pole, run by the Barr family for 37 years, for everything from a filling meal to afternoon tea, or just a delicious ice cream as you wander the historic streets