Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Looking for Kay's sweet shop on the corner of Old James Street and Scylla Road

Now I went looking for Kay’s sweet shop recently.

It was on the corner of Old James Street and Scylla Road and like so many childhood memories of over 50 years ago it has long since gone.

Today it is just an open space enclosed by a wall and full of lock up garages.

But back in 1961 it was one of those slightly run down corner shops which offered everything including Kay’s homemade ices and lollies.

Compared with the famous brands they failed to cut the mustard but on a dinner time in early June having sneaked out of the school gates her lemon ice served in greased paper was a treat.

Not that this is one of those nostalgic jaunts through the foods I ate as a child.

Thinking back there was a lot I would now turn my nose up at from apple and sugar sandwiches to meat paste and black pudding, along with suet dumplings and overcooked limp cabbage.

That said I fondly remember all those home made products like Kay’s ices which I suspect contravened a shedful of health regulations and the way so many products were served loose or in paper.

Of course that way led to temptation and even now I have flashbacks of that grocery shop somewhere on Evelina Road whose open tins of biscuits in front of the counter were too much of a challenge to a gang of lads on their way home from school.

On the upside it meant you could buy as much or as little as you wanted or needed, unlike the pre packaged supermarket products which always come in a size too big for immediate use.

The downside was that the quality, the freshness and the variety on offer were sometimes suspect.

From memory Attin’s the grocer’s on Queens Road sold two types of cheese........... red or white and sometimes the bits they sold me were hard at the edges with those cracks of age.

And while I reflect on how it was, I still yearn for fruit and vegetables which looked like they have come from the ground and not some factory which has sorted and graded each pepper, pear, apple and carrot to look the same.

I like the stuff I buy to look like nature made it with perhaps the earth still clinging to the sides of the potatoes and the odd bumpy bit to the parsnips.

All of which should lead me into a plug for the local organic shop and the supermarket in Varese where Tina’s parents live.

Italian supermarkets, even the up market ones are not afraid to display food that looks like food, but I fear this is a long way from Kay’s on the corner of Old James Street and might well just sound like the start of a travel story, so I shall close with a request for anyone who has a picture of that shop.

Picture; advert from Eagle May 30 1959, and from a supermarket in Sardinia, 2015 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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