"Her mam reminds me of the woman on the cover of the Littlewoods catalogue"
The Littlewoods catalogue
introduced home shopping to Britain in the early 1930s. Although the concept was fairly well-established by the 1950s, the beginning of the decade was still a period of post-war austerity. By the end of the decade however, with greater affluence and more security of employment, spending was up and women in particular were seeing a great improvement in their quality of life through the introduction of labour saving devices such as vacuum cleaners and electric twin-tub washing machines into the home. Often these would be purchased through the catalogues on the instalment plan. The images on the catalogue fuelled working-class aspirations for a more comfortable, up-to-date lifestyle.
The boy in the story sees Judith's mother as fashionable and even glamorous - hence the reference to "the woman on the cover of the Littlewoods catalogue", an enviable role model for the young working mother.