Sunday, 5 June 2011

Tea Party at the shop -- Storytelling Sunday

The shop was busy - it often was on a Saturday morning - and the small girl trotted purposefully after her granny as she went from the kitchen to the shop to serve her customers. She watched shyly from the doorway, wide eyed - as granny weighed potatoes, sliced bacon, weighed sugar or added home made cakes to paper bags for the women coming in for their weekly shop.
A steady stream of customers meant that cheerful banter was tossed back and forth over the counter - the housewives wanting groceries, men buying cigarettes and tobacco, children with halfpennies and pennies for weekend treats - Black Jacks, Fruit Salad (8 for a penny), Spanish and Kali (2oz for tuppence), Cadbury's Chocolate, Frys Five Boys, Shoelaces or 2oz of peardrops, sarsaparilla tablets, Uncle Joe's mintballs or caramels. To the little girl watching from the doorway between the kitchen and the shop it seemed like whole world came to granny's shop on a Saturday morning.
Soon it would be time to close - when she knew she would be able to have friends come to play with her in the backyard of the shop. It was a very large backyard - a rarity amongst these narrow streets surrounding the land which had once housed the mill - now blitzed -  and the little girls of the neighbourhood loved to play there, even though they were all older than J-------. They were accustomed to skipping on the cobbles, or making swings on the arms of a lamp post, however the yard was flagged - smooth and level - where they could play "house" and have tea parties, in what felt like luxury! There was a very large gate - it kept the boys out so they couldn't tease or get in the way with footballs!!
The shop bell tinkled and the door opened again to reveal two children, a fair child about 8 years old and a younger dark child with black curls and deep brown eyes, perhaps about 5,  followed by a smiling woman, her hair in a turban made from a scarf - "Here they are Janey." she said pushing the children forward slightly. "Oh hello Nellie" said granny - "come on in then" she beamed at the children as they scampered round the counter to the back of the shop and through to the kitchen. J------- squealed with delight to see them and hurriedly gathered together her dolls, crayons and a miniature tea set - thrusting them into the older children's hands as all three scampered outside - to find a small table and chairs already waiting for them.
The table was soon set - and much fun was had on that Saturday afternoon over fifty five years ago, as the three little girls, 8, 5 & 3  played with dolls, teddies, colouring books and crayons and had a tea party - totally enjoying the sunny afternoon, the sanctuary of the yard - (the boys with their football could be heard at the other side of the gate) whilst the gap between their ages just disappeared. . . . .

I was that 3 year old - and I can no longer remember any further details of that afternoon captured in this photo - I only remember that Aunty Nellie lived across the street from my granny's shop and that she was Elaine's mummy and that Kathleen lived next door to them and her parents were - I think - Irish. My granny's shop is no more -  - nor is the mill land - not even the streets remain - yet I was aware of such a strong sense of community there. I remember Maydays, the May Queen, a Maypole, costumes made from crepe paper, Whit Walks, Bonfire Nights - all community activities that all the street seemed to be involved in - yet I moved away from this area when I was 5 years old.
What a street party there would have been for that Royal Wedding in April this year!

Thanks for stopping by - this post is brought to you courtesy of Sian's Storytelling Sunday
and this months stories can all be found here.  

'til later

Bannaghtyn J x


  1. Lovely story, life was so much simpler in those days!

  2. Such a beautiful story! You really brought it to life in your telling of it :)

  3. What a lovely story & so well told, I felt like I was hovering over the scene watching!

  4. This is such a lovely story! You have conjured it up so beautifully - it gives a nod to those wonderful "My Naughty Little Sister" stories. You could give Dorothy Edwards a run for her money!

    My Grandma was always "Nellie" but she said she had been christened Ellen - it was only after she died that we discovered Nellie was her real name.

    Thank you for giving us all such a treat with your story.

  5. I so enjoyed that story...and the mention of 'Black Jacks' and 'pear drops' really took me back!
    Alison xx

  6. what a lovely story so well told it painted a picture that was so real.

  7. I love how you told this story. The opening line is pitch perfect and the rest has such a dreamy quality to it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wonderful story wonderfully told. Will look forward to reading more.

  9. Very evocative writing and what a fabulous photo to go with it - such prim & proper cuteness - with a giggle just beneath the surface!

  10. What a lovely story - I love how you've told it,made me feel like I was right there.


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