Posted by: madkentdragon | July 27, 2010

An Innocent Age Remembered


In a more innocent time, I was allowed to go to the local town with my best friend at the tender age of 9, catching the trolley bus to the High Street at the enormous cost of tuppence-ha’penny each way. There were no return tickets, the machines had rolls of pre-printed tickets and you handed over those large pennies and the conductor clicked a lever on his machine and gave you the ticket and then put his hand in his bag and gave you your change.

We would cross the High Street and walk into Week Street which had all the big shops in it, Marks and Spencers, Timothy Whites, and Woolworths! The cornucopia of shops!

The squeaky wooden floors were shiny and sweets and all sorts of goodies were piled high, sweets didn’t interest me much – but all those lipsticks, powders, mascaras and rouges – rows upon rows of them amazed and attracted me like a magnet. Not that I would have dared to buy them –but there were just so many of them in all colours, we sold basic Ponds make up in our shop; cold cream, vanishing cream, powder and red lipstick – but not all these colours and brands – it was as if I’d wandered into every pre-pubescent girl’s treasure trove.

Next to these were all the sachets of shampoo – remember the sachets? All shapes, all colours and all smells – wonderful! Not just the one or two we sold in the shops but hundreds – now I was allowed to buy one of these – would it be the one with beer in, the one that had two different liquids in, or the one that made your blond hair blonder? All were either 5d or 6d and so after deciding for five or so minutes, I would buy one feeling ever-so grown up!

Then we would walk past counters piled high with roasted peanuts – not covered (could you imagine that now?), and tins with broken biscuits in and on to the toys and stamps. Yes stamp collectors could buy little envelopes with stamps from all over the world from 3d upwards; the only problem was you couldn’t see what stamps were in the envelope so you had to risk buying doubles – but there again you could always take them to school to swap.

Then the toys, from tiny dolls and furniture for your dolls house to the cap guns with pictures of Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger on the boxes – how I longed for one – but “little girls play with dolls not guns” so I couldn’t buy them – but we did make bows and arrows from the branches of trees in the garden with string filched from the kitchen and a twig for an arrow!

We would look at the cheap jewellery and rings which made your finger go green and then buy a four penny portion of chips from the fish and chip shop and go to catch our trolley bus home, taking the coins from the knotted handkerchief where our mums had put it –to make sure we could get home!

Of course if we were really lucky as the bus turned right from the High Street to go down Gabriel’s Hill the arms would slip off the conductor wire and go through Sharps the outfitters’ attic window and we would watch the conductor pull the long pole out from under the bus and try to put them back on the live wires, the sparks would enthral us – another adventure in our post war childhood of the fifties.

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