Shop Around

As someone who hates shopping with a passion, it seems strange that the subject of shops should make up today’s blog. However, as someone who was born, raised and resided in one village for 34 years, the shops and shopkeepers of Goffs Oak form an important part of my life. Here is my meander around those shops over my formative years.

For those that don’t know the village, there are basically two parades of shops then and now. The first, Mason’s Parade, is just through the alleyway from The Drive where I grew up. The second streams east from the junction of Newgatestreet Road and Goffs lane as far as Valley View. Add in a small cluster almost opposite the Goffs Oak pub, a lone Children’s Clothing (later hairdressers) on Cuffley Hill, Morgans (Brynfield) nursery and a Grocers (Later dress shop) just the other side of the new Wheelwrights and I think we have just about sewn up the retail outlets of Goffs Oak.

SHops 1

The first shop encountered as you walk through the alley from the street where I grew up was for a long time a hardware shop. I was sent there on many occasions with a couple of plastic fuel cans to get paraffin for my nan’s space heaters in the greenhouses. I’m pretty sure these days they would be reluctant to serve a seven year old with inflammable materials like that but back then they didn’t worry. We also bought household items like fly-strips and washing up clothes from there but dad didn’t buy his woodworking paraphernalia like screws and nails there as he preferred to go to Bishop and Cain in Cheshunt. The original proprietor was Mr Hockley but when he retired Mr Harnett took over. They were both lovely old men and after his own retirement Mr Harnett often came over from Broxbourne to visit my nan and admire the garden. When he left the shop was transformed into a beauty salon run by an old school friend, Linda. It still appears to carry out that function today though I couldn’t tell you who runs it.

Next door was Mr Shaw, the butchers. Mum had to tread a fine political meat-purchasing line to ensure she did just enough business with Mr Shaw (Mince, offal and bacon mostly) to ensure she didn’t upset Mr Cheshire (See below). I think she succeeded. When he retired though it seemed Goffs Oak couldn’t support two butchers any longer and Bob the Fish took it over, initially as a wet fish shop but later became a frier. Up until then, our wet fish man had been John Halsey, legendary drummer with Patto, the Rutles and Joe Brown. The man even drummed on Lou Reed’s Transformer only to flog cod and haddock from the back of his van outside the Goffs Oak pub 20 years later!

The first of two greengrocers was next to Mr Shaw. The Cuttings greengrocery was where we got most of our greengrocery requirements. It was a friendly and happy environment – at least until the great apple wars of 1971 (Or whenever, my memory’s not that bloody good). It started off as chucking windfall apples at each other. Two gangs with me, Russ, Andy Carr and others on the hone side and Andrew Cutting and friends on the other. A harmless, if occasionally painful, war of attrition. Then Andrew Cutting starts bringing eggs from the shop to the fight. Most unfair. No bloody surprise he joined the army. When the Cuttings left the shop it became an off licence. I spent a lot of time in there and ran up quite a line of credit. I had to really because half the time I couldn’t even write a cheque out I was shaking so much.

Then it was Mrs Perrett’s grocery shop, later a Wavy Line. She ran both this one and the newsagent at the end of the parade. The latter was ‘managed’ by the friendly yet fierce Mrs Harris, who lived in our street but was my most visited shop for comics and sweets. That was later taken over by John, one of the first Asians in the village and a lovely man – a complete contrast to our other Asian newsagent (See below). But going back to the former shop, in 1981 when it was a Wavy Line, your cold meats, cheeses and cream cakes would likely be served by me, or Mrs Hoskins, or even Dawn.

Thus endeth Mason’s Parade. Let us scoot to the Co-op and pick things up there. Not sure when the Co-op opened but when I was young it was split into two halves – grocers and butchers – and the outside had that wonderful green tile on the façade. Mum, or me as her proxy, took a shopping list round on Thursday or Friday and gave it to the lady behind the counter. On Saturday a man in a grey Morris van delivered a cardboard box with your groceries. On Monday, one of us went round to pay. I hope Tesco don’t think they invented home delivery! Later the Co-op would be modernised and knocked into one. I spent two years there as butcher’s boy, my first Saturday job.

SHops 2

Next to the Co-op was the Chemist, which is still is although I se he has expanded to take over Sanjay’s old newsagent. Now Sanjay was the ’other’ Asian newsagent’ I referred to earlier and was not everyone’s cup of tea. I got on just fine with him tough but I had to really as he held the village’s only supply of porn videos! He did come across as pretty miserable most of the time but he had a wicked sense of humour if you could find it. Many a time I watched the shop for him whilst he went out back for something or other.

There was and still is a Dry Cleaners next, then after the alley which let through to Mr Maske’’s first flat was the Post Office. Originally in a smaller shop opposite the pub, it has been where it is for many a year now. In my day it was run by Mavis, whose husband David farmed Brook Farm in Cuffley. As well as the PO counter it was a veritable treasure trove of toys and magazines.

Then came Mr Cheshire’s – Ted – the butchers. It was where we got our weekly joint. It was also where Tottenham got the Turkeys they handed out to all the staff and players at Christmas. More fame for such a tiny little village. Above Ted’s was his niece’s(?) hairdressing salon where my mum always had her hair done and so did I until I was old enough to go with my dad to the barber. Jean the hair now lives in Norfolk and is still a family friend.

The Onion was the village’s second greengrocer and to be honest, one of the few shops we never used. Our loyalty was to Cuttings always. Though I must admit, we half-inched the occasional potato from the sacks outside the shop when we were getting low on ammunition during the Great Apple Wars of 1971 (or whenever).

Finally in that parade was the shop(s) where my nan got all her wool. And the lady’s name was at the tip pf my tongue until I came to write it down and now it’s gone. Anyway, the Whiskers later turned a perfectly useful shop into a bike shop! Oh and hang on, wasn’t there a plumbers there too? See, I don’t remember everything at all.

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