Never Knowingly Undersold

 

The Specials Ghost Town

When I left school at 16 my Father told me that I had a job starting on the next Mondayspecials morning at Bainbridge’s, a large department store in the centre of Newcastle. I protested that I hadn’t even had a holiday but he told me that if I lived in his house I had to pay my way and that meant a job.

Bainbridge’s was the first department stores in the world started in 1862 and in 1952 it became part of the John Lewis Partnership. In 1964 it was in Market Street Newcastle moving ten years later to Eldon Square.

I loved my time working there, I had money in pocket and the delights of Newcastle to explore with its nightclubs and bars. The town of 1964 was very different to the one today, so much of that vibrant city has been lost, crushed and homogenised but, if you explore the back streets and alleys you might hear the Animals “House of the rising Sun” pounding out from the Club A-GoGo or smell the hashish smoke in the Handyside Arcade.

To listen to an audio recording of this poem click here

 

Never Knowingly Undersold

 

She was one hundred and fifteen when they got married

He moved in with her over fifty years ago

When she lived in a warren of corridors and rooms

That stretched from Market Street to the Bigg Market

 

From the start, it was a trendy modern relationship

They called it a Partnership

Even when they moved up market

To the concrete caves of Eldon Square

She kept her family name above the shop door

 

Now, we can not call it Bainbridge any more

The signage and bright lights are all the same

As those seen in any city shopping centre

The interior design the same from North to South

The content of the racks and shelves identical

 

I want to shuffle around arcades of small shops

Run by the people you pay your money to

I want to buy my poetry from Ultima Thule

Pop in for some politics in the “Days of Hope” bookshop

Or share a comic moment with Chris in “Time Slip”

 

The planners have forgotten what we like about Newcastle

Isn’t that all the shops are the same as any other city

It’s the differences that people come here for

Let’s make room for the individual, bazaars for the bizarre

Malls for the malcontent and choices for the choosy

 

©Jeff Price May 2017

 

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