Sweet naustalgia

Barkingside High Street has a new addition: Mr Simm’s Olde Sweet Shoppe, ‘confectionary specialist’ est. 2004 but posing (badly, incomprehensibly) like it was 1874. The livery is nauseating and is flatly contradicted by the modern business and management talk on the website. Phoney and cynical. These are small transgressions though and I will be making regular selections from the boiled sweet jars.

More boiled sweets: I had  family over and for dessert decided to follow an Iraqi recipe for pumpkin pudding. I made a light caramel and basically cooked some custard marrow in it along with a squash of indeterminate species (they cross fertilise at any opportunity), served up with (soya) yoghurt and mint to my disappointed parents, brother and cousins. My advice to you is don’t do that. It was grim. I couldn’t even stomach it when I was hungry the next day.

In other news there’s a lot of bad stuff going down. Iran is simmering, The Sun is bandwagoning against Labour with its own unique brand of self-righteous spite, they’re starving in East Africa, being beaten in Guinea (for which news media outlets seem to be relying on just one correspondent, Alhassan Sillah), the South Pacific earthquake makes insects of humans, and single issue academics unite to kill more fish.

The world is a bear pit, but it’s impossible to despair with confectionary tucked in your cheek viscously coating your analyses. Keep yourself in sweets, give to charity, make efforts for liberating and protective social change, hope for a peaceful death.

Update: I was at the bottom of the High Street on Saturday and it occurred to me to pay my first visit to the new shop and see if I could buy a sugar mouse. As I approached I could make out a seething mass of kids and bikes in the distance. What with the idea of a sugar rodent and the swarming children, I found myself thinking of lines from Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin:

There was a rustling, that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering.
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

Suffice to say I could hardly get in the door, so the sugar mouse is on hold.


18 thoughts on “Sweet naustalgia

  1. You’re clearly not a regular Sun reader, D.
    And I wish I could laugh at the sight of the more progressive and egalitarian contestant in this two horse race trying to win the vote of an electorate which is being wound up by Sun propagandists and the far right. Dismal.

  2. I see what you mean about that website. What the hell is that “contract” stuff at the bottom? Phoney and cynical is absolutely right. Choosing an old style font for your plastic window stickers doesn’t “create a nostalgic atmosphere”. Puke.

    Your final sentence there is excellent, and a great design for life. You should sell t-shirts with it on.

    The Conservatives are of course loving the spite. They can claim to be above it, while riding it all the way. Filth. At least you have the NHS!

  3. Yes, my American hombre, we still have that. And because Camo happened to have a family member who needed it, we see in at least one Tory a rare example of empathy for those who have-not.

  4. Naustalgic atmosphere, you mean.

    Yep. It’s a franchise. They’ll have a devil of a job inculcating anything like nostalgia in Barkingside. We look forward in Barkingside. The assistants will have highlights.

  5. I love the complete lack of irony: “Among the standardization of high street shopping, it has become predictable, both in types of shops and the product they sell, making day to day shopping dull and boring.” …So become a franchisee and make your high street stand out from all the identikit high streets in the UK! For only £19,99(9).

    Brilliant! I’m gonna get me one for Walthamstow, so shopping here can be as unpredictable as in Barkingside.

  6. It’s New Labour that has been winding up the electorate for the last decade. This is the party whose hereditary elite “are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich” and has happily presided over a deepening of the divide between said filthy rich and a new underclass. Egalitarian my foot.

  7. I think it’s a brilliant addition to the High Street. I would much rather see a nice sweet shop, which everyone is enjoying. Have you seen the queues outside since it opened. Much better than ANOTHER tacky pound shop selling, rubbish, which we really don’t need. These shops make Barkingside look cheap and tacky. I thought Redbridge wanted to improve the area.

  8. “I thought Redbridge wanted to improve the area.”

    What about improving the financial circumstances of its inhabitants?

    You seem only to care about appearances, Alan. Those pound shops sell things you can’t get elsewhere, for a price I’m sure a lot of Barkingside people appreciate (although ‘cheap’ often means ‘made by poor people in far-away places’ – but that’s not what you’re getting at).

  9. The 10p income tax band and subsequent u-turn was a real low point for New Labour, I grant you Dorothea. Ditto the failure to rein in the city speculators and end the tax havens.

    But over the past 12 years inequality widened a great deal less than it would have done under the Tories, and would widen again if they were to gain power. I’d like to back that up with references to manifestos and gini scores, but I have to go.

  10. Alan, you’re right, I’d rather a sweet shop than a pound shop. But Flesh does have a point. That said, I once tried to do some DIY using only the tools I could buy at a pound shop. They were utterly useless – metal bent and chipped, plastic folded, wood splintered. More landfill.

  11. True – cheap often means crap. But not everything in pound shops is crap – sometimes it’s simply cheap – with the caveat against wholeheartedly welcoming cheap stuff – often one person’s saving is another person’s low wage – until we start demanding transparency from manufacturers and vendors we will never know. I’m not going to start doing pound shops down when for all I know they might be selling the same thing as a shop which charges more and marks up more.

    See my Barkingside High Street experience with Risky and Bourgeois Boheme for why I’m cautious.


    I’ve bought brown paper from the pound shops, but I’d prefer to plan ahead and buy recycled. I use newspaper to wrap these days.

  12. I went into the sweet shop and the customer service was not ‘inspirational and memorable’ but downright miserable. The surly woman spent the whole time uttering one-word answers to my questions and didn’t look up from texting on her mobile the whole time. Very disappointing and not exactly ‘ye olde’.

    • Ah, that is sad. Last time I passed, there was a happy-looking woman behind the bar (the place does resemble a tiny pub for children) and it was the several mums in the teeming queue who were looking like their fuse was about to blow. However, the barmaid had no bun, no pinny and no rickets – on the contrary blond highlights and lipgloss.

  13. I think the Sweet Shop is a great asset to the High Street. So much better than another exoctic grocery shop or pound shop, which we don’t need. Thankfully one of the pound shops closed down this week, which can only be a good thing. We must have another 4 or 5 still in the High Road. It may not be true “ye olde” and I know it’s a franchise, but I know what loads of people really prefer, and it isn’t another pound shop. The kids seem to love it, and I’ve not seen a shop with such a large queue on the opening day.

    • OK. I agree about the poundshops and I think that finally (after years of shortage) we have enough fruit and veg on the High St. But what is an ‘exotic’ grocery shop? If a shop opened which only sold home grown stuff (i.e. closed during the winter) would that be acceptable? Only asking.

      PS I would like to see a gallery, a health food shop, a vegan restaurant, a toy shop, a book shop which did evening arts events, and a craft shop. I’d like them to be cooperatively owned. You?

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