Ed­i­tor’s let­ter


The vil­lage shop; what a won­der­ful thing, and how sad to have one and lose it. The other week I took the dogs for a walk around the ham­let of Clint Green, which is near Yax­ham (or part of Yax­ham – never quite sure how that works out as they’re a mile apart) and no­ticed that the scaf­fold is up around the old vil­lage store, D&P Gant.

The shop has been closed for a while now but while I was grow­ing up there in the 70s it was at the cen­tre of vil­lage life. It was run by Den­nis Gant, a man of for­mi­da­ble ap­pear­ance but kindly dis­po­si­tion and his wife Paddy.

Their lit­tle shop was a boon in the days when the en­velop­ing sprawl of the su­per­mar­ket hadn’t quite filled in ru­ral Nor­folk. The Gants sold some­thing of ev­ery­thing and they were good folk, even open­ing up spe­cially one Christ­mas Eve late be­cause mum ran out of marzi­pan or some­thing mis­sion-crit­i­cal.

But what we kids were in­ter­ested in was be­hind the counter; rows of glass jars packed with sug­ary delights, shelves stacked with boxes of Fruit Sal­ads and Black­jacks – eight for a penny! Eight for a penny! Un­be­liev­able value.

Then there were the Re­fresh­ers, Pac­ers, Opal Fruits, Sher­bert Foun­tains, foam saucers, liquorice sticks, traf­fic light lol­lipops, co­conut to­bacco, sweet ci­garettes... this was nir­vana in sugar shapes. And the best bit was that it was usu­ally free.

I should qual­ify that; kindly as the Gants were they had a busi­ness to run but they had a credit ac­count sys­tem whereby goods could be pur­chased by trust­wor­thy cus­tomers, the value writ­ten in a book and the debt set­tled at the end of the month. It was a boon to the pen­ni­less child and we were per­mit­ted to se­lect a few sweets and put them on ‘the bill’.

How­ever, I am ashamed to ad­mit that temp­ta­tion got the bet­ter of my eight-year-old self and one month the bill was, fam­ily leg­end has it, the size of the na­tional debt. Aghast, my mother quizzed Mr G who grassed me up.

I had been buy­ing up large stocks of good­ies and shar­ing the booty in the play­ground of our ad­ja­cent school, ap­par­ently. I can’t re­mem­ber the shar­ing bit, but I’ll run with the ju­ve­nile Robin Hood ap­proach on the ba­sis that if I’d eaten them all my­self I’d cer­tainly have type 2 di­a­betes now.

Gants was also at the cen­tre of a great drama which put my younger sis­ter in hospi­tal. Ex­it­ing the school bus one dark win­ter af­ter­noon she skipped across the road to grab a bag of good­ies and was flipped straight over the bon­net of a pass­ing car – thank­fully one ad­her­ing to the speed limit.

Even so it meant six weeks in the Jenny Lind hospi­tal with a bro­ken leg in trac­tion. She did get a lot of sweets though. DO­MINIC CAS­TLE,

Ed­i­tor, EDP Nor­folk Magazine 01603 772758/07725 201153, do­minic.cas­[email protected]

A sweet trip down mem­ory lane...

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