Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Our Very Own Shop

Story contd.

The next day Mary and I were off down the High Street with Ellie’s advice ringing in our ears; our aim – to find premises before the day was out. The first house agent we visited was a charming elderly gentleman who looked as if he had stepped out of Dickens. He was courtly with a pink and white skin, snowy hair and a waxed moustache. He was beautifully turned out with a bow tie, waistcoat and pale grey spats* which even in the early sixties was a rare sight.

We told him what we were looking for – both of us burbling excitedly whilst he regarded us benignly. When we were done he told us to wait whilst he looked at his files and slowly retired to a back room. We looked at each other and sighed, we knew we had to be patient but there was so much to do and we doubted that dear old Spats could ever do anything quickly. Eventually he returned holding a file and looking pleased with himself.

‘Now this may be just what you two young ladies are looking for. Look out of the window. Can you see on that building over there? See the name Berkeley Cartier? That is a gentleman who was an excellent tailor until he retired and he owns the building. As you can see there is still a tailor’s shop on the ground floor, there are offices on the first floor but the second floor is vacant.’

‘Oh please can we go and see it now?’

Spats twinkled at me over his pince- nez*.

‘Well now it’s usual for us to make an appointment first but I can see you are eager to get on. If my assistant is available I will find the keys and he will take you to see the premises.’

I wanted to hug him but restrained myself and Mary and I beamed at each other.

We entered a door on the street - next to the gentlemen’s outfitters; at the top of the stairs was a cloakroom which we would share with the offices at the end of the corridor. Up another flight of stairs were a small room with a window looking out onto a back yard and a large room at the front with two windows looking out onto the High street.

It all needed a coat of paint but the space was great and we were at the smart end of town – on the High Street no less. We hugged each other with excitement.

‘We definitely want it. Can you be sure to tell the old gentleman please?’

The assistant promised he would do so and Mary and I went and had a coffee whilst we planned our next move.

‘OK now we’ve got the premises. We’ve got to have the third partner – not just for the reasons Ellie said but also to help with the rent. If the three of us put in £50 each that should tide us over until we start making money.’

‘Do you think people will be bothered to climb the stairs?’

Mary looked a bit anxious.

‘Of course they will when they see what we have got to offer. The location is excellent and these are young mothers – two flights of stairs won’t bother them in the least.’

We knew none of our friends would be suitable as the third partner as they all had young children and we wanted someone quite free to fit around our commitments.

‘We’ll have to advertise. Let’s work out now what to say and we can drop it into the Courier and it will be out on Friday.’

Mary was used to my ‘do it then it’s done’ maxim so between us we managed an ad which was clear and direct.

Whilst we were in the newspaper offices I suggested we put in a second ad advertising our new shop. It had taken us days to come up with a name that satisfied us both and the sooner we opened the sooner we could start getting financially secure.

‘But we haven’t signed the lease yet’,

‘We know we are going to and this will give us a good start.’

So the second ad announced the advent of our new shop and asked for local school uniform in excellent condition. We learnt later that a local large store were concerned about this and objected to our presence in the High Street but eventually they came round, were quite friendly and even sold us some of their old shop fittings.

Spats however, when we went in to sign the lease looked sternly at me over his pince- nez.

‘I say, you jumped the gun rather, didn’t you?’

* Spats –short gaiter covering instep and reaching a little above the ankle.

* Pince –nez - pair of eye glasses with spring to clip on nose.


Nea said...

"Do it then it's done" maxim,
or "get up and go" attitude,
you're so fast it's more like
"get up and gone".

Hope you weren't too fast jumping that gun, wouldn't want you to go and shoot yourself in the foot.

Nea said...

Ooops! not sure if that worked...
second attempt:

"Do it then it's done" maxim
or "get up and go" attitude,
you're so fast it seems more like
"get up and gone".

Hope you weren't too fast "jumping that gun", wouldn't want you to go and shoot yourself in the foot!

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

A sweet-shop man in Dunnington near York once looked at me sternly over his pince-nez. All I had done was knock a box off the shelf but I felt as if I had committed a war atrocity, such was the sternness and the pince-nezness. I don't think I'll ever forget the powerful combination of the two.

PI said...

Nea: oh dear! Have I left you hanging again? Bother!

PI said...

Sam: brings you up short doesn't it?


I have a functioning pair of pince nez I wear at home only on the pc - I daren't wear them at work. Street cred n all that.

Maybe wear them at Millwall in a few weeks. Yer can't hit a man in pince nez can yer?

kenju said...

UH - OH! Why did you stop there???

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

You know the 'do it, then it's done' thing - how about applying that to the writing and posting of this story? *runs away very fast, giggling*

PI said...

4d: OK I won't tell anyone. A photo would be nice:)

Zinnia: Just because you get weary finishing your novel is no excuse to think - I know I'll go and harass Pat. Pat thinks that once a week is qite enough excitement for wayward girls.

AndrewM said...

Talking about yourself in the third person - first sign of oncoming braggadocio.

Nice post though.

PI said...

Andrem: it's that Zinnia's fault! Thanks hon!

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Actually thinking on it now I reckon they were half-moons, but in my head they were a pince-nez. And it's very important to live in one's head, non? Better than someone else's any road.

PI said...

Sam: my head's the same. Lots of bits of embroidery floating around which sometimes gets stuck on the words. But the spats were there!

colleen said...

I'm glad you explained what pinc nez was. This was a fun little slice of life to read. I guess I'll have to track down the first post to see what kind of shop. Is the uniform a clue? Michele might want to know too.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh I hope this doesn't mean you DON'T have that space?...Hmmmm. It is always a little "Perils Of Pauline" isn't it? LOL! Life, I mean....

Thanks my dear for your Thanksgiving Wishes....!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh...And I forgot to say...I wish you a Very HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Tomorrow! Why not make your Chocolate Resolve one day later? It does seem a shame to deny yourself on your Anniversary.....LOL!

f:lux said...

pi, you sound like the perfect person to go shopping with - decisive, good eye for a quality bargain, and lucky!

Keith said...

Actually Pat, I tend to "speed-read" your story because I'm eagerly awaiting the book to read your autobiography!

As for quizzes and memes, they leave me cold. I just can't work up any enthusiasm for them. TIP: Please don't ever "tag me"!

See! I have commented....

sablonneuse said...

Well, if you keep your readers on tenterhooks you know they'll be back, eager for the next instalment. Please don't keep us waiting too long.

PI said...

Hi Coleen! Yes uniform is a clue but don't let me stop you archiving.

Naomi:thank you for your wishes. It's because of what I shall be eating and drinking tomorrow that I can be spartan tonight - so far. And I do need to shed and ounce or two.

Keith: glad you are still around. We should all live so long to read my autobiography. As you can see from my side bar this is a me-me free zone so you are not in danger of being tagged by me.
Well done for commenting.

Nea said...

I'm happy hanging.
Anyway, I've got some catching up to do.
Happy Anniversary!

PI said...

Sablonneuse: I find what I can best manage at present is once a week for the story. I have to really concentrate and my concentration is a bit gnat-like. For example I can't do it with the radio on.

Thanks Nea!

November Rain said...

Hi Michelle sent me to say Happy T day :)

Guyana-Gyal said...

Oooops! I think Mr. Spats will give you the space though.

I'm in awe of people who get up and start shops. My parents had one, by the way, when they were young, so I know the hassles.

PI said...

f:lux: let's go! The Big Apple next weekend. OK?

Eryl Shields said...

I know I'm rather late, do apologise, but this story just gets more and more fascinating. Can't wait for the book!

PI said...

eryl: hopefully it is always there
for catch ups. I'd better get a move on:)