Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The 1960s Made Flesh

I liked the 1960s. I felt comfortable there. It was a time of optimism, and - for me - childhood, all played out to a great musical soundtrack.

In the 1960s, round about where I live now in Leeds, there were lots of little family-owned shops, all within about a quarter of a mile of our house - the house where we live now. Most were much nearer - within a few hundred yards!

There were two little grocers called Beevor's and Cawdron's (actually I have no idea how to spell that last one - I don't ever remember seeing it written down!) There were two greengrocers - one was called called Perrin's. I forget the other one's name but its owner had thyroid problems and so had very prominent eyes which always fascinated me. His son was called Chris, I do remember that.

There was Turnbull's the baker's: I was at school with the daughters. Their mother was French but this didn't stop her making the best Yorkshire curd tart I have ever tasted.

There were two post offices - one was also Austin's the newsagent's - and a haberdashery run by my schoolfriend Janice Jones's mum. There was a cobbler's, and a kind of primitive small supermarket-type shop called The Thrift where - revolutionary idea! - you picked things off the shelves yourself and put them in a basket.

There were two butchers' shops, one better quality and more expensive than the other. If you wanted lamb, you went to the one next to the Thrift, but if you wanted mutton you went to the one next to the Post Office.

The first time I ever went as far as the nearest shop - the grocer's round the corner and down a bit - was New Year's Day, 1964. I led rather a sheltered childhood and was very shy, so I felt it was remarkably brave of me. But it was a new year, and I was now remarkably advanced in age - - seven and a half - and I felt it was time to begin a more grown-up exploration of the world.

So, proudly, I went round the corner, stood outside the shop - which was closed, of course, because it was New Year's Day - feeling grown-up, and then found my way the two hundred yards or so home again.

Then the first supermarket came to nearby Oakwood.

Within a decade or so, almost all the little shops were gone. Only the "parade" - as we called it - remains, with one of the post offices. All the others have been turned into houses and when I pass them I still think - - oh, there's the greengrocer's.

Then, last week, we went to Northern Ireland, and visited small towns such as the delightfully-named Magherafelt and Ballymoney, and drove through numerous villages.

And there, gloriously, they were. Small, family-owned shops, by the dozen. (Oh yes, and Chinese restaurants, too, interestingly - most places seemed to have one!) We did visit one shop with a very narrow front that went back and back and back until we were nearly in the next town. What did it sell? Everything.

I wish I'd thought to take more photographs of all these small shops, but my eyes were too busy looking sometimes because I enjoyed everything so much.

I was fascinated by the number of old-fashioned butchers' shops in particular, all with the meat neatly arranged and smart-looking butchers in cap and apron.

(Anyone recognise that gentleman striding purposefully towards the shop? Yes, they remembered him, though he left the town in 1970).

And here is another butcher's, with a name meaning "butcher" that I had never seen or heard before:

Just one small part of a fascinating week.


Blogger Silverback said...

Looks like a well dodgy old hoodie about to nick G-G-G-G-Granville's bike !

9:23 pm  
Blogger Ailbhe said...

Ooh, seven and a half? interesting!

12:02 am  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Flesher? Are you sure that D.Kearney is actually a butcher and not a gigolo?
"Begorrah Maureen I'm away down to Kearney's for a pork chop!" could have a hidden meaning.

11:16 am  
Anonymous Michael Communistson said...

The other greengrocer's - it was Palmer's.

Thus my contrubition to the great world debate.

11:25 am  

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