An update on my mystery bookplate

Just thought I’d share this comment on an old post that I received today. The mystery remains unsolved, but perhaps one day someone will find my post via a search and provide more information about the ladies.

Roger Thomas and his partner Jacquie Aucott are booksellers with a very interesting selection of books available online. I bet their “real world” book and antique shop is a great place to visit too.


Season’s Greetings

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Laptop 1958 style

From The Countryman magazine Winter 1958. The equivalent cost today would be £522.22 according to this calculator, which would buy a PC laptop package more than adequate for most people’s needs.

I suspect that far fewer people would have aspired to a portable typewriter as a Christmas gift in 1958 than will be hoping for a new laptop under the tree in 2011. Not only would the cost have been out of most people’s reach, but it’s not quite as interesting as a computer is it?

Necessary to the active male in 1959

Here’s a little gem of an ad. for Chilprufe underwear from the Winter 1959 edition of The Countryman magazine to celebrate the first frost of the season.

When I was a teenager in the early ’70s tie-dyed “Grandad vests” like the one seated gentleman is wearing were quite the thing in the hippy community – the wearing of vintage clothes isn’t a new trend! I never really went in for tie-dye myself, but many of my clothes came from the Oxfam shop, jumble sales or secondhand clothes stalls on Cambridge market.

Back then nearly all clothes, bags and shoes back were made of natural materials and lasted for donkey’s years. I wouldn’t fit into them now, but I’d love to still have some of the cotton, silk and wool garments I treasured in my teens just to enjoy the feel of them. The quality of the fabric was wonderful – buttery corduroy and velvet, soft Viyella and cotton, heavy silk crepe and all wool was real wool.

And then there were the beautiful leather handbags, shoes and purses that cost pennies and wore so well they looked even better with the patina of age than they did new. I still enjoy buying secondhand clothes, but the treasures are much harder to find nowadays and are priced accordingly.

Local shopping – the greengrocer’s

I’m lucky to live within easy walking distance of a good range of independent shops and, although I do a weekly(ish) shop at a supermarket, I like to support my local retailers too. Kimpton’s greengrocers shop has been at 6 Station Parade for 56 years and thus is just a couple of years older than me. I love the sense of stepping back into my youth when I shop there.

When I popped in the other day to buy some sprouts and salad stuff I asked if I could take some photos. Not only did I get permission to snap away, but I was also shown the owner’s album of photos from the shop’s heyday and heard some fascinating reminiscences. Sadly there wasn’t time for more than a brief chat, but it was lovely talking to someone who clearly enjoys his work and to hear something of the history of businesses in the area.

There are several vintage weighing scales on display in the shop. The set you can see on the right of the picture was used not only for produce as you would expect, but also for weighing the local babies! Health and safety would have a fit at the thought of such a practice nowadays, but I love the idea of the local young mums wheeling their prams to the shops to buy their groceries and get the baby weighed. The modern digital scales of today seem dull in comparison, but in forty or fifty years time they too will be vintage items with stories to tell.

Inevitably the owner of Kimpton’s has seen a lot of changes since he began working there. Once there were three sweet shops all making a living in the parade, two banks and other food shops. There are still numerous businesses in the area, including a newsagents, a pub, a couple of cafes and the garage where I get my car MOT’d, but some premises have been turned into homes, some are boarded up and others that were once shops are now offices.

Taking my inspiration from blogs such as Spitalfield’s Life and Julia Cameron on Upper St Giles Street I intend to investigate my local area more thoroughly in the coming months and to write about my discoveries. People are wonderfully willing to chat about the things that interest me and I’m nowhere near as shy as I used to be about initiating conversations with strangers!