Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Pick 'n' Mix

with the demise of Woolie's, I wonder if you can still pick 'n' mix?

Sad that such a national institution as Woolworth's has gone down the financial pan, I have very fond memories of it from when I was a child. There was a tiny branch near my home. I recall dark wooden floors, dark wooden interior with goods laid out behind small (glass?) upstands on wooden counters. As soon as I was old enough to clasp a coin or two of my own pocket or birthday money, off I went to browse. My mother's birthday gifts were bought there - plain hankies to be embroidered with her initial in wobbly chain stitch, and a memorable Mothering Sunday plastic basket of plastic anemones, which she greeted with what must have been feigned pleasure. The girly joys of a first bra (probably a 28AA whether I needed it or not and I think it cost a shilling, but so much better than a Liberty bodice with rubber buttons for suspenders, even if it did still have to be worn under a St Michael vest) and make-up to be tried in a gaggle behind the outside lavs in the last year of primary school (Miner's - bright pink, shocking blue - gorgeous) were acquired from Woolie's. What, I wonder, will happen to those Deco exteriors which have been a feature of high streets great and small for so many decades? Despite the changes in signage over time, it was still often discreet and didn't overwhelm the building. I suspect that we will get nasty plastic frontages (Iceland has bought a number), and many a store will vanish altogether. Among my favourites are the huge block with a parade of shops at ground level in Carlisle built in local red sandstone, and the tiny store in Barnard Castle. The one in the historic pic is one of those in Liverpool, Wavertree Road.

I don't have any pictures of my own, but I found this on t'internet (well worth a browse at the others in the set too):

One day I will learn how to do all that stuff with links hidden in text, like Gervase does on his blog, but I haven't yet got that far.

News of new blogs which I am certain will be of interest, we at the Republic seem to be developing a 'Bloggers' Circle'. First up is another from a CO who is being coy about identity but no doubt will soon give the game away to those who have regularly read his calm contributions in other places:

and the second is an additional refugee from another place: of little brain at all, in reality, but I hope she will keep us updated with her exploits in delving into archaeology in deepest Wales along with tales of house updating in the Frozen North.

Perhaps we should call ourselves Grumpy Old Bloggers, the GOBs for short; although one of our number is a GOB in spirit but not yet in years, he assures me he's been working at it since he first wore long tweed trousers.

Clicking on the links in the Followers' pics at the right will, I have found, also bring you details of the blogs. If you are a Blogger, then your dashboard will give you fresh posts of all blogs you follow. If anyone, Follower, Blogger or not, wants an alert from me when I update this do send me an e-mail (see profile) and I will add you to the growing list.

Jon Maine (see The Merchant of Shepton Mallet) has sent me this link to an album of 'before' pics to which he will add, as and when, updates:

If anyone is having trouble with the comments section, also let me know.

Apologies to people who have sent news and fresh listings and pics which I haven't yet incorporated, time is short at the moment but it's not forgotten.

In yesterday's comments Gervase raised the subject of the sad news of the impending demise, after a long campaign, of the colliery headstocks at Annesley, Notts, there are song lyrics and a poem. The latter is connected with something on my list of 'to write', the 'Treasured Places' exhibition in Edinburgh, but that's for another day.

Happy blogging, do keep in touch - it can get lonely at the end of this Republic outpost mud track.

PS See comments, here's the link:


Juju said...

Re. Woolworths - I agree it's a sad demise. Always handy for shoe laces and pick n mix! I worked for them as a Saturday girl as did my sister and aunt, and my mum's first job was in their head office. After taking over the coveted job of records counter, I then reached the dizzy heights of Saturday afternoon supervisor and was the sole person (aged 16) in charge of the store when the manager went on his tea break! Bit scary now thinking about the responsibility but then I thought it was great and would stand by the tills, swinging my keys, feeling all self-important. In terms of architecture, my partner and I always play 'spot the Woolworths' when visiting new places. You can have a nice row of historic frontages and then slabs of concrete above Woolies but as you say, not as ugly and in your face signage as some stores. I will miss Woolies, sob sob.

Nemesis said...

Gosh - I've been playing with the 'fine tuning' stuff on Blogger and now comments arrive in my e-mail (withot the sender's e-mail address I add) and hopefully I can post this on Blogger that way... so here goes... Is it true that those who worked at Woolies got a day off on their birthday? It was something I heard yonks ago and thought such a civilised idea!

(So far it hasn't appeared here... so back to posting on site! Oh well, it's all fun trying things out.)

Gervase said...

Oh dear - my memories of Woolies aren't so rosy. It was where I was nabbed for shoplifting at the tender age of 11. It was a packet of Blakey's shoe irons (they were the must-have thing, even in rubber-heeled shoes, because you could make sparks as you walked and sound well'ard).
A friend dared me to snaffled a pack so, shaking like a leaf, I slipped them into my inside blazer pocket. Moments later this gangling figure loomed over me and whispered hoarsely "Put those back, and if I ever catch you in here again I'll kick your arse off!"
For months after my short, sharp shock I would always find an excuse not to cross the threshold whenever my mother was shopping for needles or cotton.

Juju said...

I don't recall having a day off on my birthday but then I was a lowly Saturday girl, regularly told off by the full-time staff for rearranging their beautifully crafted displays of paint and batteries.
My brother once stole a little toy Easter chick from Woolies but he got away with it. My Mum told him off when she discovered what he'd done and we still tease him about it 40 years later... Mind you, we also teased her for years about stealing a magazine from the dentist's once - it was in a good cause as it had an article on the Spanish Armada which I was studying at school. She was a great mum - risking the wrath of the law for my education!

Nemesis said...

Oh those were called segs in these parts - and yes they did make the sparks fly, although thay also made the shoes last longer before having to be taken to the local cobbler (what happened to those?) Another day maybe...). But I think shoplifting is another rite of passage you know, and as for being caught... there but for the grace of God...

I also recall being what is these days called being 'inappropriately touched' by a bloke at a crowded (remember those?) counter in Woolies. I reached behind and dug my nails in to a hand. It was easy to then spot the culprit, although I have to say it didn't scar me for life, dunno about him.

Blimey - maybe there's a book in this... 'The Wonder of Woolworth' and its place in the development of the youth of the nation!

Juju said...

Yes, that would be a great cultural history! Another important institution in my family's life was 'Lyons Corner House' as several family members worked there. Were they just a southern thing or did you have them in your neck of the woods?

Nemesis said...

No - we had Carrick's though, a bakery with caff attached...

although until reading that I hadn't actually appreciated how close to home some of the history was!

(I must find how to make live links in comments - but I'll pop that at the bottom of the post, where it does it as though by magic.)

Gervase said...

I'm afraid I do the linky thing rather laboriously. First type a 'less than" (<), then href=" and then your link. Then type another double quote and > followed by the text you want to be clickable, then type another "less then" (<) /a>.
It sounds complicated, but it soon becomes fairly straightforward (or am I simply a nerd manque?)
It also takes longer to write here because Blogger thinks I'm trying to write a proper link and keeps slappig my wrist, hence the "less than"s.

Oh bugger it - there's nothing wrong with just pasting a link after all. I'll go and sit in the corner with a pint of 6X...

Nemesis said...

Sound plan! It would be useful to be able to post linky thingys in comments though.