Lawrence Road Co-Op

“Don’t lean on the bacon slicer
were getting a little behind in our orders,”
said the man,
who always frightened me a little,
I was only ten.

He was big bluff and hearty,
wiping his own red hams on an
aproned white coat.
A Mastermind of his mahogany counters
specialist subject his stock,
what he didn’t have he would persuasively suggest,
much to my mums chagrin.

He’d cheerfully fetch rounds of Gorgonzola or Cheddar
in between serving others
with Sago and tins of ‘Connie Onnie’,
then twanging the wire on the cheese-cutter with a laugh
he'd wrap the waxy triangles
with a dextrous flick
in crunchy sheets of paper.

Paying was even more exciting
the shop assistant totted up my list
loading my money
into a brass shuttle
which whizzed along wires to clang
outside the cashier office,
run by a formidable lady suspended mid-air
who dutifully
dispensed my change and more important
the ‘Divvy’.

And off I’d trot,
whirling my string bag of messages round my head,
few pennies change clutched in grimy hand.

But that’s all gone now,
now we buy groceries pre-packed
and you don’t need money ... just numbers.

By George Wilson