Mr Beevor’s

47 years ago today I attended the 10th birthday party of my treasured schoolboy friend. His mini-gauge model railway was a wonder to behold; we were also much occupied with news coverage of the Investiture that day, at Caernarfon Castle, of Charles, Prince of Wales. (My father attended – and returned home with a small gift for me of an heraldic tiepin: three feathers – Ich Dien or I serve – with which I was and remain delighted); and we enjoyed toast toppers, jelly and ice cream; and I broke the third finger of my right hand by clobbering it on a newel post! We still exchange birthday greetings, and with each year’s anniversaries I recall the joys of childhood. Tonight I’ve been delighted to read Wilfrid Wilson Gibson’s The Shop. The whole work is a lovely poem indeed but the opening lines hereunder were quite enough to bring to mind the sights and scents and person of old Mr Beevor, his Rochester Road shop, his polished brass and mahogany cash register, Woodbines and Park Drive on the shelf behind him and – for we children – threepenny Lucky Bags. Ah: birthdays, poetry and glad remembrances make for many happy returns!

Tin-tinkle-tinkle-tinkle went the bell
As I pushed in, and, once again, the smell
Of groceries and news-sheets freshly printed
That always greeted me when I looked in
To buy my evening-paper: but to-night
I wondered not to see the well-known face
With kind brown eyes and ever-friendly smile
Behind the counter, and to find the place
Deserted at this hour, and not a light
In either window. Waiting there a while,
Though wondering at what change these changes hinted,
I yet was grateful for the quiet gloom —
Lit only by a gleam from the back-room,
And here and there a glint of glass or tin —
So pleasant after all the flare and din …

Wilfred Wilson Gibson
from The Shop, Collected Poems, 1905-1925

Where was “your” shop? Where did you buy shortbread biscuits and pear drops? And – if you close your eyes – do you find, too, that years fly?

7 thoughts on “Mr Beevor’s

  1. Oh, Simon , what lovely memories this stirs up. My Grandfather was a tailor and had his shop on Brigg High street. The smell of Harris Tweed will always conjure up the joy of tiding his counterof buttons and Badges and ribbons for Officers uniforms. BUT the shop door was at 45 degrees to Mr Binns next door…. A sweetie shop! Mr Binns was the image of Mr Kipling, small. Bald headed , rimless glasses over which he looked with a beaming smile. He was always forewarned of our arrival and had dolly mixtures and Lyons strawberry ice cream at the ready. It was the first thing we did on our arrival. Even during the war the ice cream was available but the sweeties were not.

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    1. Perfect! Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m a fan of Harris Tweed as you know. How lovely to have been able to have one made locally as was the case then. And a fan too, of course, of dolly mixtures! Happy holidays for you both, and for your family xx

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  2. Just a further comment about Harris Tweed. Grandpa made us army style Harris Tweed great coats and matching beret type hats to complete a boarding school uniform. Fantastic workmanship.( “us” being my twin and I )

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    1. Hey Mimi, this sound like the beginning of a beautiful, reflective poem. I’d love to see the finished piece if ever you got round to filling it out a bit more. Keep these first lines just as they are. I hope you’re beginning to find your feet a bit more by now. Much love for you and yours xx

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      1. Hi dear friend..thank you…my last attempt at poetry (if one would call it that) was when I was painfully in love in college, writing in all small letters a la e.e.cummings and listening to Joni Mitchell. Deep sigh and high drama…;-). Xx

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