Thursday, November 27, 2008

Woolies and Woodies

As famous High Street names such as Woolworth's and MFI slide towards obscurity there's been an outpouring of nostalgia from various Woodies. I find it hard to work up much enthusiasm for MFI, which never failed to underwhelm me with its tatty flat pack furniture. But Woolies is another matter. In West Wickham where I grew up Woolworth's was probably the largest store in town when I was a kid - not that that's saying much. As I recall, it had wooden floors with sawdust scattered around and rows of counters selling sweets, Embassy records (which I'm proud to say I never bought) and toys. I spent my pocket money on cheap toys, especially marbles which were a Woolworth's speciality.
Talking of nostalgia, the death of Reg Varney the other day brought back memories of On The Buses, a series that was incredibly popular in the 1970s. Reg was such a big star that Barclays used him to launch the world's first cash machine in, of all places, Enfield in 1967 (pictured). As a PR man for Barclays we brought Reg back to Enfield in 1992 to celebrate the silver jubilee of the ATM - on an open top bus of course. On The Buses was of course very non-PC, with the main characters - Reg as driver Butler ("I 'ate you Butler!") and conductor Jack - ogling the clippies in their miniskirts and winding up the Inspector. Not as non-PC, though, as Love Thy Neighbour, a clip of which I saw on YouTube the other day, which looks unbelievably racist today. The seventies - eh! The decade that taste forgot. Don't you just hate it.
* There's a belated obituary of Rudy Ray Moore in The Times today:


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