Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's not just Gamages, you know

'Why is everything I like taken away?', he wailed hysterically.

Here's what started it.

I went into sandwich bore Pret A Manger on my way to work this morning, which is looking evermore like the industrial zone in The Crystal Maze - time for a revamp I think - only to find they've stopped doing their delicious lemon and orange muffins. Not for everyday ingestion, these treats were iced, and the muffin mix contained bits of orange and lemon rind and poppy seeds. Delicious. And now consigned to the things F-C liked but what have been cruelly snatched away file, here are some others that have gone from my life but are not forgotten.

Baxter's Chicken & Almond Soup
A creamy, thick old fashioned concoction that wouldn't have been out of place on the Elizabethan dinner table. Obvioulsy didn't chime with the hoi polloi so discontinued. I assume their Thai spiced pollock curry is doing great business.

A chain of London-only chemist shops that were absolutely everywhere when I first moved here in the late Eighties. With its distinctive lime green name written at a an angle sign it had always been slightly exotic to me because they didn't have one in Winchester and now I actually got to shop there. Recently I discovered my sister-in-law worked in one in 1980. She wore a jumpsuit and went to discos with Vitus Gerulitis. But then the whole chain was taken over and became Boots Health and Beauty. How disappointing.

Smith's Savoury Vinegar Crisps
No one seems to remember these but me. They were the hit of the crisp world circa 1971, when crisps were 2 1/2p from the tuck shop. At the same time I recall Hula Hoops launching, and the fact that you could put them on each finger and eat them off saw fickle snackbuyers abandon the non-novelty crisp for something the considered to be much more fun, despite this johnny come lately tasting of salty chipboard. I'm sure it was this that did for the savoury vinegar crisp. They were amazing and not seen in nearly 40 years. I still don't care for Hula Hoops.

Individual John Lewis shops
Peter Jones aside, all John Lewises are now called John Lewis. While this sums up the practical, no fuss-no mess ethos of the store, it's a bit boring. Where I grew up in Southampton, we had Tyrell & Green a branch of the JLP. In Reading they had Heelas in Liverpool it was John Henry Lee. In Holloway Road where Waitrose stands now was a small store called Hope Brothers or Jones Brothers or something. In Cambridge it was Robert Sayle, in Southsea there was Knight & Lee. Now it's all one chain. No individuality.

That's what I miss, along with the Five Centres bar of course. So without getting all Spangles and spacehoppers about it, what do you miss?


Chris Hughes said...

Brilliantly, Browns Of Chester, of 'at Debenhams (and Browns Of Chester)' fame, still refuses to conform to the corporate name. I don't know why.

House Of Fraser has also binned off most of its individual store names - Dickins & Jones in Richmond is now just HoF. Although I think Howells in Cardiff (aka "Henrik's" in Doctor Who) is still Howells.

Still laughing at "She wore a jumpsuit and went to discos with Vitas Gerulaitis," obviously.

Ishouldbeworking said...

I'd love to know more about Vitas Gerulaitis, if there are any more anecdotes knocking around. How glamorous.

As for me, I regularly mourn the loss of the Cariba Bar; a bit like a Bounty but not as cloying (and with bits of cherry in.). Also Clinique Rose Apricot lipstick - no other colour ever suited me so well. And I'm with you on Savoury Vinegar crisps. They were divine.

Clair said...

As ever, it's the Huntley and Palmer Breakfast Biscuit.

And Vitas Gerulaitis is a form of skin complaint.

Valentine Suicide said...

Mine is a recent find and loss. Olive oil soap from Lush. It smelled utterly divine, and raised my monthly showers to unheard of heights of pleasure. Sadly it disappeared about three months
after I discovered it.

You're a man of some influence, FC. Make it come back?

Five-Centres said...

I'll see what I can do VS.

Well, she worked in the King's Road branch in her early twenties and went out doing something groovy every night. Imagine it: Findus Crispy Pancakes and Not The Nine O'Clock News then out to some bistro in a jumpsuit. What fun.

Wimbledon fortnight bumped into a load of tennis players. Not sure where this was, but probably the Chelsea area. And got chatting to Vitus. She remembers her hangover as being legendary but because she worked in a chemist they boss would mix up super cures that would banish them in a flash.

She's now a child psychologist and is 52. She was on the Russell Harty Show too, doing one of those things where you put your hand in a box and there's a bald head in there, etc. Her flatmate worked at the BBC. It's very Modern Girl, isn't it?

While I'm at it, I miss Athena too.

Dan Worth said...

Hot and Cold breakfast cereal, lucky charms, secret chocolate bars.

Clair said...

Cocktails said...

I miss Rosemary flavoured Kettle crisps. I wrote to Kettle and complained when they were taken off the market a few years back. They sent a generic response drivelling on about their exciting new replacement range, like Ham and Marmite or some such rubbish.


roym said...

there used to be a JL in streatham called Pratts. it now a lidls and argos

TimT said...

I share your breakfast-related pain. Starbucks used to do a ‘skinny’ version of their breakfast muffin - the one with lots of raisins and other fruit - which was much nicer than the full-fat one. Then they dropped it from their range, and I’m now forced to opt for the cinnamon swirl or an almond croissant instead.

Oh, and the Watford branch of John Lewis was formerly Trewins. They only changed the name in 2001 - most locals still call it by the old name.

If you fancy visiting an unreconstructed, Grace Bros-type department store, I can recommend Boyes, which is in no danger of being swallowed by John Lewis any time soon. You have to venture up north, though; I’m only familiar with the Bridlington branch, whose delights you can judge from this shot of its stylish exterior:

Five-Centres said...

Everyone's got their own John Lewis haven't they. And that's nice.

Thanks for link TT.

And hello to you, Roym

Nick Setchfield said...

I was recently astonished to find an Athena very much alive and well at the new Cabot Circus shopping centre in Bristol.

Sky Clearbrook said...

Knight and Lee is still officially called Knight and Lee...


Emma said...

Nope, Howells (not to mention David Evans in Cwmbran) is now House of Fraser. I miss the Dingles that used to be up by the university in Bristol. And Owen Owen!

Five-Centres said...

Yes, there was an Owen Owen in Southampton, and Edwin Jones became Debenhams.

Glad that Knight & Lee retains its identity.

Anonymous said...

I remember Smith's Savoury Vinegar crisps. Loved them.

Kevin, Lincoln.