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18-04-2019, 06:48 AM
21

Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

Originally Posted by Azure ->
One day when we were young in the '60s my husband and I ran a General Store.
We sold absolutely everything from Food to Reels Cotton and Knicker Elastic, Sweets and Tobacco, Paraffin. Bags of Coal and Firewood and Bacon on the Bone, Fresh Bread Cheese, Ice Cream, Chemist Sundries.and 'Something for the Weekend Sir'

Men usually waited to be served my husband discretely, for something in a 'Brown Paper Bag'. Kept in the back room.
Well one day a man a regular customer came in and was looking around for some time
"Can I help you I asked" "Is your husband not here?" said he
"No! he is away today"
"Is there something I can get you"
Well, he said sheepishly, it is usually in a Brown paper bag.
"Oh! I know" I said cheerfully, They are in the back".
How many would you like?! "Three please," he said looking relieved to see that I was not embarrassed.
No men referred to contraceptives them by their name in those days. It was always soto voiced by my husband.

Later however they knew that I would always serve them discretely too.


Sounds like there was some "Johnny Rustling" going on.
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Robert Junior
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18-04-2019, 09:19 AM
22

Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

MOLLY, MURIEL & MOLLY

With the passing of over fifty years I feel it may be relatively safe to spill the beans and reveal what is was really like in a store such as Grace Brothers
By a quirk of fortune, or misfortune this spotty sixteen year old sales trainee found himself a junior to three ageing sales floor divas each determined to sell the most frocks and coats. If Molly, Margot and Muriel didn't exist you'd be hard put to invent them.

Molly had a bob of thick black hair, piercing blue eyes and a black heart. With her powdered pale face reminiscent of Transylvania she stalked the sales floor, pouncing on unsuspecting shoppers with a sales pitch expertly delivered in a soft Scottish accent.
"Oh my dear that is so you" , worked every time, especially when delivered by Muriel or Margot , making an apparently spontaneous but actually a planned casual aside as they passed by Mollie's wavering customer.
Yes, they were able to work together on occasion if they thought all three might lose the sale. An inquest followed all such disasters. They even had a name for it, S.W.O.P. Shopper wouldn't open purse.


Margot reminded me of a fading movie star. Glamorous once and still pink powdered and perfumed. Still glamorous but now, in a Mae West in Myra Breckenridge sort of way. She lived in nice flat over a florist in Bournemouth with her toy poodles. Her hair was in a big blonde bouffant style, with greying dark roots peeping through by Wednesdays. On Thursday it was expertly dyed back to a strawberry blonde, to match her poodles.

Muriel was a genuine toff who had fallen on hard times and a class act even when her nylons had ladders and her chignon came loose. I can still see her now tottering and twisting her body to one side as she struggled to straighten her seams, or ladders, or both. She was tall, not as tall as Grace Everdene, in The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, but a statuesque six feet plus a good bit more. .Happily an exception to the complexes and stooping experienced by many others of this height, she was free of angst for her as befitting her prior station in life she was quietly confident that she was above the rest of us anyway.
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20-04-2019, 07:57 AM
23

Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

Between 1970 and 1973 I was book department manager in Debenhams I took over from the previous manager, a friend and colleague who was, promoted to another store in Gloucester.
He rejoiced in the name Robin Strapp. A Glaswegian with an accent you could cut with a knife, he inevitably was referred to as Jock Strapp, though not to his rosy face.
I inherited too, his assistant manageress, Pam P, a spirited lady, conscientious but with a far from robust constitution. We called her Philby, after the Russian Spy. Every Thursday she had a two hour lunch break to have her hair permed. At five past three she would scuttle back late and red-faced and hot from being under the hot hair dryer thingy, and try to look normal.
Every Thursday I followed her into the office surveyed her immaculate and lacquered bouffant hair do and nonchalantly uttered
” I thought you were going to have your hair done Philby.”Then we would both laugh.

My office was next to the exit to a notorious housing estate, Lime Street.
Often my office became a no go area as the store detective tumbled in grappling with a violent shop thief.
I met many authors, during book signing sessions. They were largely disappointing in person and often bored with the proceedings. Leslie Thomas had just written VIRGIN SOLDIERS. Dick Francis was still writing his own books.
One Thursday a man in a dirty raincoat was looking at the dirty paperbacks. He became agitated and then suddenly took off his coat, revealing his completely naked and may I say not very pretty body.
Philby was just returning from the hairdressers as the man started sweeping the floor with an imaginary broom.
Completely stone faced and unfazed Philby asked him if he had seen the floor in woolworths,it was disgusting.
The man thanked her profusely, dressed and scuttled off, presumably to Woolworth’s.


"Your hair looks nice"
I said to her.

(C) RJ
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20-04-2019, 08:35 AM
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Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

I’m enjoying reading your stories Robert...

Looking forward to the next episode .

Those were the days!
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20-04-2019, 10:24 AM
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Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

Awesome Robert, cheered up an otherwise humourless Saturday morning......Thank's.....
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23-04-2019, 07:09 PM
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Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

I enjoyed reading your two latest episodes RJ, a joy to see them waiting there when I got back home, thank you for your wonderful talent.
I thought of your late Aunt P last night as I was listening to Bertie Wooster on audio book in bed, “My old Aunt Agatha is as tough as nails” says Bertie to his friend Bingo, “She chews broken bottles and kills Rats with her teeth”
That Wodehouse fella was brilliantly funny.
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24-04-2019, 01:43 PM
27

Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

I know this thread is about confessions but I came across this from my old journal.
I think I have struck a rich vein of my memories of early days on a lively council estate, back in the 1950’s. My escape was to watch old films & save my pocket money (3d per week) to buy comics. My heroes were in there, Terry Thomas, Jimmy Edwards, JRJ, Lord Snooty & the Bash street kids.

I was taken ill aged 7, it was touch & go for I had developed sepsis. My mother told me when I was aged 40 that she had signed the forms agreeing for my arms to be amputated. I don’t know what she planned to tell me after I had come round after the general anaesthetic.
However, it was not my destiny to become armless. (It is my arms so I can joke about it now) Anyway, on the subject of JRJ, I began to recover after the operation. My arms were intact.

Being nosey, I recognised the person in the bed opposite me was Jimmy Edwards (before he was outed).I called over to him that I, was a big fan & read his japes in the comics every week.
e beckoned me over & gave me a signed photograph.
“I’m off on tour with Alma Cogan & Lenny the Lion as soon as I get out of here”
Many years later, my mother was in hospital, gravely ill after suffering an aneurism. It was 1999.

I visited her every day. She was very confused and not making sense but she suddenly recalled the time I was in hospital, the same ward she added.
“Robert, do you remember that you were in hospital in 1955.”

“I remember there was a funny old boy in the bed opposite you who thought he was Jimmy Edwards.

“I knew something was adrift because he signed the photo BERT BROWN” she added.
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24-04-2019, 09:15 PM
28

Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

.

That would have been devastating had you lost your arms at such a tender age RJ, you had someone’s prayer as they say.
I loved Edwards too, although I didn’t know he was a pilot until I read it just now, well done Jimmy.
"Jimmy Edwards was a decorated RAF pilot during the war and his Dakota was shot down at Arnhem, he received facial injuries that required plastic surgery, he grew his trademark handlebar moustache to hide some of the scars. he died in 1988 aged 68" Wiki.
Thanks for the laughs Jim, Whacko!
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24-04-2019, 10:08 PM
29

Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

Memories are wonderful things aren't they Robert

I was relieved you didn't lose your arms after all, we might never have had the pleasure of your company here today..

Looking forward to what you get up to next!
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25-04-2019, 08:41 PM
30

Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER

Confessions of a retired shopkeeper
Number 6.

THE TALE OF A FIELD

When, in 1976, I found myself employed by one of the then new out of town D.I.Y sheds phenomena and as motorways sprung up and roads widened large tracts of adjacent countryside disappeared under the weight of the ubiquitous B & Q chain of stores and their imitators.

It so happened that my particular branch or outpost was built in a strawberry growing part of Hampshire where small holdings were the rule rather than the exception.

My father, on one of his visits advised me to buy a field as an investment. This was 1976 & an acre was selling locally for three thousand pounds, my annual salary
“I don’t want a field” I was rather offhand, but the truth was neither of us had a spare three grand.

Twenty years passed & these pig farmers, small holders, strawberry growers & field owners were being offered £300,000 for an acre, now they had planning consent for housing.

My, how that money blighted so many peoples lives. `Money became no object, houses were extended, and conservatories, stables & swimming pools were being put in everywhere. Some took to drinking all lunchtime & all evening, buying expensive rounds & finding lots of new friends
The problem was that it was new money. Those that had always had money, the old money people knew how to handle it & quietly got on with their lives.
One exception was old Absalom Leopold Strutt. He was 90 when they came to take his acre off of him. .
They hadn’t reckoned on having to deal with “Leo” Strutt. He’d had his field for 60 years and grew cut flowers & some salad crops for local florists whom he delivered to on his Pashleigh bicycle with the panniers on front & back, heaving with Chrysanths, Carnations Antirrhinums and other flowers.
This was his life. They could keep their money. Leo Strut never did sell out to them & they built around him until he was virtually isolated and the traffic increased & he became a lonely figure, cycling through the estate with his cloth cap, dungarees & bicycle clips.

One day he didn’t appear. A few more days passed & Josie, who relied on him for her flower shop, closed for lunch for the first time & took a taxi to his house, the door was shut but not locked.

“Leo is you there, Mr. Strutt”

He was dead, sat up in his favourite chair surrounded by piles of flowers and hundreds of unopened letters from developers and lawyers. He was 95

Did he beat them? I think he did .
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