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Robert Junior
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13-05-2018, 10:56 PM
1

Over Fifty years ago I was.....

TROUBLE

Life at “Grace Brothers” department store wasn’t all a bed of roses.. Like other retailers we had problems with thieves. I purposely avoided using the euphemistic term “Shop lifters” for two reasons. Firstly because this term suggests it is a hobby rather than a serious crime and for which paying customers in the end underwrite. Secondly to avoid confusion with “Shirt lifters” which is an altogether different activity, by and large.
My favourite shoplifter was Danny McG, a polite regular who made no secret of his intentions, even chatting to the plain clothes store detective trailing him .Unfortunately he had a violent streak which came out of nowhere & we kept a distance but had a police squad car waiting outside of the exit nearest the betting shop. His aim was to go back to prison where he felt most at home. His last visit to the store was in December of 1973 when he stole a cine projector, annoyingly, because I was demonstrating it to a customer at the time. My plea of “Come on Danny-give me back the cine projector” was met with a look of incredulity and the softly spoken reply, ”What cine projector?” All the while grasping the object even tighter under his arm with its plug & extension cable trailing out of the carrier bag he had stuffed it into.
I hate to say it but s good deal of thieving was done by staff members & young Mr Grace used to say , when another staff member was caught.
“ I am seldom surprised, but always disappointed.”
Many years later I bumped in to Danny again in a city centre pub. He took me unawares & I hope you will understand that for a short while I genuinely couldn’t think where I knew him from.
It dawned on me after exchanging warm pleasantries who he was & I sped on my way politely as I could. The joke wasn’t lost on him for he called after me.
“Know where there are any cine projectors going cheap Sir?”
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13-05-2018, 11:00 PM
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Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....

I love reading your stories Robert, they always make me smile
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solo
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14-05-2018, 09:10 AM
3

Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....

When robbers had 'lovable' characters and even good manners Robert. Thank you as always
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Val J
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14-05-2018, 10:41 AM
4

Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....

Originally Posted by Robert Junior ->
TROUBLE

Life at “Grace Brothers” department store wasn’t all a bed of roses.. Like other retailers we had problems with thieves. I purposely avoided using the euphemistic term “Shop lifters” for two reasons. Firstly because this term suggests it is a hobby rather than a serious crime and for which paying customers in the end underwrite. Secondly to avoid confusion with “Shirt lifters” which is an altogether different activity, by and large.
My favourite shoplifter was Danny McG, a polite regular who made no secret of his intentions, even chatting to the plain clothes store detective trailing him .Unfortunately he had a violent streak which came out of nowhere & we kept a distance but had a police squad car waiting outside of the exit nearest the betting shop. His aim was to go back to prison where he felt most at home. His last visit to the store was in December of 1973 when he stole a cine projector, annoyingly, because I was demonstrating it to a customer at the time. My plea of “Come on Danny-give me back the cine projector” was met with a look of incredulity and the softly spoken reply, ”What cine projector?” All the while grasping the object even tighter under his arm with its plug & extension cable trailing out of the carrier bag he had stuffed it into.
I hate to say it but s good deal of thieving was done by staff members & young Mr Grace used to say , when another staff member was caught.
“ I am seldom surprised, but always disappointed.”
Many years later I bumped in to Danny again in a city centre pub. He took me unawares & I hope you will understand that for a short while I genuinely couldn’t think where I knew him from.
It dawned on me after exchanging warm pleasantries who he was & I sped on my way politely as I could. The joke wasn’t lost on him for he called after me.
“Know where there are any cine projectors going cheap Sir?”
Sometimes the rogues are the most interesting characters. I bet he could tell a good tale.
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14-05-2018, 10:46 AM
5

Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....

Originally Posted by solo ->
When robbers had 'lovable' characters and even good manners Robert. Thank you as always
A few weeks ago we did a car boot sale. Hubby has a watch collection all in boxes and was selling some. A young fella picked up one of the boxed watches, asked OH a few questions and then said to me ‘Sorry about this’ and ran off with it. I was too stunned to do anything about it!
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14-05-2018, 10:48 AM
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Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....

Love it Young Robert.
We need more. Lol
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14-05-2018, 02:31 PM
7

Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....

!964 remembered........


Too many Journalists ...

I left school aged 16 in 1964 and had no idea what sort of job I might do. The school careers master, bumbling Mr Newton looked at me and scratched his head and sighed loudly when I arrived at his office for guidance. For all I know he still there, scratching his head, for he never progressed from shaking his head and muttering to himself.
A few days passed and I found myself with Mr Ahier, the Youth Employment Officer in his office at the bottom of Shirley High Street. He must have spoken to Mr Newton, because was sighing, scratching and muttering all at once.
“Well boy what are your ambitions, what do you want to achieve in life?"
My mind wandered off somewhere distant.

“What sort of work do you want to do?" Mr Ahier persisted, despite my floundering.
I had no ambitions and no idea what I wanted to do.
“I want to be a journalist!" I suddenly blurted out. I don't know why, it suddenly popped into my head.
“Journalists PAH.

"Too many journalists “

slurped Mr. Ahier slurping tea from his saucer, an old fashioned thing to do even in those days
I ventured that I had worked in a pet shop on Saturdays and was promptly packed off to Mayes department store by the Bargate in the town centre for an interview with the formidable Miss Jossaume, personnel manager.

Yes, she was formidable, a word which could have been created specifically for Miss Elisabeth Jossaume.
With her tight permed hair, stiff neck. Pebble glasses and thick bright fuchsia lipstick she radiated menace. She sighed, crossed her legs and folded her arms. I noticed she was wearing tartan socks and brogue shoes.

“Well boy what are your ambitions. What do you want to achieve in life?"
Looking up I expected to see Mr Ahier, but it was still Miss Jossaume, already showing body language indicating the interview was already drawing to a close. Without waiting for answer she continued by asking me how well I had done with my GCE exams. I answered honestly, possibly modestly and in due course actually accurately.


“I think I failed all 5 exams”.
The door was shown to me without delay, with Miss Jossaume sending me on my way with,
“You are clearly NOT the sort of person we are looking for.

Mr Ahier wasn't too bothered and sent me the following day to Tyrrell and Green department store; imagine my dismay to find myself face to face with Miss Jossaume.
She had changed jobs that week and now sat before me once more. The interview was an action replay
of the one before, with one difference. It was obvious to me that I hadn't been recognised by Miss Pebble glasses and to her all spotty youths looked alike.
My confidence grew.
“I am confident I have passed ALL my exams" I informed her.
This time she walked me to the door, patted my arm and cooed
“You are clearly JUST the sort of person we are looking for”.
In 1976, some 12 years later, whilst manager of MONOMART DIY store I met Nigel Bird, another frustrated journalist, given the same advice by Mr Ahier, I believe he went into catering. I hope not.

In July 2007 I was at a Barbecue with the church and I entered into idle conversation with the vicar about all the press cover concerning the NHS.
At that time the Daily Echo was running a particularly aggressive pot-boiler about how the NHS was finally on its last legs.
Then he turned history full circle by delivering boldly.

“Too many journalists “

Could Mr Ahier really have been correct all those years ago when he launched those words at me.

There is a nice post script added to this account of events, for after the passing of 43 years in 2007 I was beginning to imagine that these events of my youth and my honing and embellishing the facts into an entertaining yarn on my part, I made the acquaintance of a friend of a friend while on holiday in Jersey.
This dear lady’s face lit up and she exclaimed.

“Mr Ahier? what a coincidence, that was my uncle Vivian”.
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14-05-2018, 03:11 PM
8

Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....

I am starting to understand now. It takes a while for it all to sink in with me Young Robert. Puts a smile on my face as I know the places.
Looking forward to the next bit. x
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14-05-2018, 08:19 PM
9

Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....

Originally Posted by Sweetie pie ->
I am starting to understand now. It takes a while for it all to sink in with me Young Robert. Puts a smile on my face as I know the places.
Looking forward to the next bit. x
Glad to be responsible for a revival of memories for you.

I have become too dumbed down of late & hope to post some of my experiences 50 years ago, & revive those times when I reported (to my journal) life in the 196os. Hence 50 years ago.
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14-05-2018, 08:26 PM
10

Re: Over Fifty years ago I was.....

I wasn't a very good barman at all. Still, aged just 18 the regulars seemed to like me and referring to me as young smiler. Looking back a more accurate title might be Gullible. I grew to like the working men’s club which employed me and where I could be found pulling pints all weekend. In return I grew to like the lively atmosphere and Guinness. It was good for you. After years of eating bananas and beans to put on weight, the numerous bottles of Guinness & Mackeson , generously paid for me by the tipsy clientele began to do the trick.
Talking of tricks, I feel able with a suitable passage of time, I can confess that some customers were cheated . The steward and his wife, Eddy and Jenny, Canadians by birth and both spotty by malevolent misfortune; were both convinced they were being stolen from as every stocktake showed a loss. I had nothing to do with the loss. I have a completely clear conscience on that score, but I was guilty of conspiring to make good their losses .. The stewards, Eddy and Jenny, were soon replaced by the Committee, probably because they were closing in the real culprits.
Enter Arthur and •Kathy, who promptly sacked everyone but me, I must have projected honesty, and brought in their own trusted staff.
As the replacements were all related to them I can only presume that they took the view that if they were going to be robbed, it might just as well be kept in the family.
Arthur was an intense bald little man with huge bulging eyes, and a permanent expression of bewilderment because his family didn’t let him down and the stock losses continued unabated.
Arthur was soon replaced by the committee, and the losses stopped .. No doubt they didn’t want to kill the golden goose.
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