it's got to be now

the macphail drive shops, bordone's monte casino chicken bar on the far end, never looked so glamorous... oh how we used to laugh watching the champions on TV and thinking that the real monte carlo looked bigger and shinier.
this was the corner where i first stood after we moved to the estate in 1970... and looked around at my new kingdom.
i was barefoot as i recall, as it was summer and being new to the council estate habit of leaving broken glass everywhere... i had to tread warily around.
i'm sure that the concrete on the ground once provided a telephone box.

ours was one of the first houses in the street - we would have played in the other semi-built houses, until one-by-one they were all finished and new neighbours moved-in.

but being the shops for all the locals they witnessed a few dramas there in my time: the eight year old shoplifter aprehended right in front of me(she was stealing boxes of chocolates and SCREAMED the place down), the night i heard someone smash the big window of the post-office and called the police whcih meant walking around in the dark with the one copper who'd turned-up at four in the morning, the streetfights with local youths fighting with kids from outside the estate who had come to cause trouble(someone got chain whipped and put in a wheelchair), me - hanging out there with my scooter-mates, using the crap public phone on a pole(the box long since gone) to argue with a partner, me being a surly teenager and just being rude to staff in the shops, the weekly saturday morning walk to get my comics, then my magazines, then newspapers, the kids playpark behind the shops that was made up from discarded unused sewer pipes(gee thanks...) where we would congregate until someone fell off, working for a voluntary charity that raised funds for local disabled people - the woman behind the counter of the little post-office where i cashed my giro started to think i was working and claiming dole, as she would see me cycle past every morning...
it was never a rough place although i never went there much at night, but the shops had a certain reputation for being so, due to the odd rumble over the years.
our gangs were a bit crap... someone i went to school with sprayed "DONT F-CK WITH THE BAULDYS" all along the back of the wall at the rear of the supermarket, which was notable for two reasons, one: that he misspelt baldy and got the rwong grammar... and secondly, despite it's cinematic reference to the wanderers excellent film (i mean, c'mon, going to the pictures, is that really what gangs do..?), the baldies in the film are a fairly inept bunch of morons who accidentally get themselves drafted - this all provided denizens of the estate with much hilarity over the years, as opposed to the menace of a couple of blokes with cheapo haircuts who sneaked about in the dark with spraycans... a million miles away from the real baldy gangs... who weren't even bald.
but most of the time, the shops were our sustenance and my window to the world where i would learn about superheroes and musicians and fashion...(captain marvel, captain sensible, captain america).
i think i may have tried to have some streetcred, and snog some girl around the shops, but i was never very convincing(there were quieter places to go...).

the chipshop has been a never ending source of ready-to-eat food for nearly 40 years now.. that's a lifetime!
we used to admire the red sportscar driven by the owner's son, an alfa romeo as i recall... certainly more daring than anything our parents drove, and italian too!!!

and the famous men's barbers, where i spent my saturdays getting haircuts, listening to paul gambacini on radio 2 running down the weekly american top ten(at an early age i knew the works of dean freidman... oh lydia says!), inhaling the smell of bay rum and reading men's weeklies amongst the discarded hairballs... sort of like a rite of passage really - especially when you get big enough to not have to use the little wooden plank they make kids sit on.
times change though - and i was growing my hair into a particular style that the barber didn't really agree on, so depsite my instructions he cut it all off anyway... and i went to the unisex place above the castelli garden grill from then on...


Anonymous said...


Almost makes me want to have stayed in one place long enough to be able to write something like thing.

eightball said...

...a lot of people have mentioned how the humble newsagent was our window to the big, wide world when we were growing-up...

RM said...

It's great to read your memories of new farm shops. I'll put the link on the the school's newfarmlochforty blog. The kids will dig it I'm sure (and their parents will too no doubt).

It'll be interesting to hear the kids' responses to the stuff about gangs and how they compare to what they see on the streets today.


eightball said...

no problem RM... more similar stories to come in due time.
ah... JHA library where i used to hide in a quiet corner and read books... something which was strangely frowned upon at the time!

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