Monday, 20 February 2012


Wet n wild. It must have been lashing all night as massive puddles have formed in the uneven pavements and along kerbs where stanks have blocked.
I nip into Coffee Joe's to get rolls. This isn't the current name of the shop, but it used to be so I'm going to stick with that. (Just thinking too that the rolls deserve a post all to themselves . . . )

This emporium, this corner shop - not on a corner - this newsagents is one darkish room, and that's no wonder as the two front windows are covered by outside grilles that never come down and inside, there's merchandise stacked up against them.
When you push open the single door, there's a smell of damp and old fruit and cabbage. On your right is the counter with boxes of sweeties, chocolate bars, papers and novelty lollipops covering every surface. It has a glass front and inside there are quite a lot of empty boxes, as well as a few notebooks, plastic pension book holders, rainmates.
Along the remainder of this side is shelving which holds canned goods, such as peas; marrowfat and garden, soups, beans, spaghetti hoops, pot noodles, cup-a-soups.
On the left side of the doorway are two upright fridges with sliding glass doors. A couple of shelves have milks, the pure white stuff in full fat, semi-skimmed and skimmed, and flavoured; chocolate, strawberry and banana. Other shelves are crammed with cans of skoosh, from ginger beer to american cream soda to shandy to red bull to irn bru, and the fizz goes on.
Ahead of you is a chest freezer whereupon is laid a baker's bread basket that has Riverside Rolls inscribed thereon. If you get in early, you can have your pick of the best rolls in all the world - more on these another day (with pics).
Behind this there are stacks and stacks of bottles and cans full of every brand of liquid imbibed by mankind. What a drouth there must be in Govan.
A tower of crisp boxes rises in the middle of the floor and holes are cut in the cardboard so you can help yourself to Salt n Vinegar, Cheese n Onion, Plain, Smokey Bacon, Prawn Cocktail, and all those nasty wee snacks like Space Raiders and Monster Munch.
There a few random items hanging on pegs such as woolly pointy hats with lugs and long ti-ers which the big bad boys have taken to wearing this winter.

The shop is busiest in the morning when the weans are going to school. They all stop in for a play piece and they like to take their time picking out a sweetie much to their mothers' annoyance and irritation.
The two shopkeepers, revered elderly cousins, ask kindly after the ladies and their children and take a polite interest in local life. They keep up with the sick and the dying, commiserate with those who bear bad news, mourn with those in need of comfort and rejoice with those who are joyful for a season.


Ellen said...

Long life to the wee corner shops. I wish.

Anonymous said...

You've taken me right back to Bobby Smith's Dairy, the corner shoap that used to be across the road fae us! :o)
Play pieces, the finest rolls, penny trays, Chopped Pork, ginger... and don't knock Space Raiders, I'm currently hooked on the cheese 'n' onion!
Excellent writing, love it. If you like that whole wee corner shop thing, do you ever listen to "Fags Mags and Bags" on Radio 4...?

Nihil Sine Labore said...

Haha! Hadn't heard of FMB but just watched Wall of Crisps. Hope it comes back on again soon.

Same here Ellen,think I will try to feature them all before asda govan annihilates them.

Ellen said...

A few years ago I had a dream that I was back in Govan and it was night time. All the wee shops were as they once were and the shop signs were old fashioned but quality. Every shop was brightly lit and people were busy going in and out. Pity it was just a dream.