The Auntie Doris Years: 1909


It had been thirty one years since Frank Winfield (FW) Woolworth had opened his first shop in New York State, USA. In 1909, he came and opened his first shop in Britain. Liverpool was they obvious choice, partly because it was the English City with the closest links to America, and partly because the people of Liverpool don’t really know what they want, but they like shops full of all varieties of cheap tat. If there are any scouters reading this, I’m only joking. It’s just that my Raymond’s cousin Gloria was a scouser, and she used to swear by Woolworth’s and get all her stuff there, clothes, shoes, make up, the lot. and you could tell an’all. In a bright light, she looked like Coco the ruddy Clown. Part of it was her personal taste, but a lot of it was Woolworth’s quality.
I can say that now without fear of reprisals, because there aren’t any Woolworth shops any more, but at one point there was one on every ruddy High Street in the country, and you could literally get anything from them. Not just clothes and make up, but books, records, sweets, tools, household electricals, toys and games, all ruddy sorts. Only back in 1909, they probably didn’t sell many records, because 78s were new technology, so they were probably still stocking wax cylinders then. I used to like that about Woolworth’s, you could still get cassettes there when everywhere else was selling them ruddy CDs. Which was useful, because my Raymond wouldn’t have CDs in the house. Because he was too ruddy mean probably. But they used to have all my favourites on cassette any road, Jim Reeves, Mario Lanza, Joseph Locke, Winifred Atwell, the lot. I think they even still had a few Harry Champions on wax cylinder, but my father had made my mother throw out her wax cylinder player when they got married, on account of it being sinful.
I’m not really sure what books they would have had in 1909 either, but I bet you could get a few HG Wells’s in there, and maybe a JB Priestly or two. They used to like being called by their initials in them days. HG Wells, JB Priestley, FW Woolworth, WG Grace, there were a few of them at it. Only the posh ones mind. Ordinary people weren’t even allowed to be Herbert, William or Charles, they would be Bertie, Bill or Charlie. Anyone from round our end who used two initials would have been given ruddy short shrift, they would have probably been given a clip around the lug hole for having too many hairs and Gracies an’all.
Apart from the minister at the chapel. They used to let him get away with it. His name was Leonard George Albright, but it used to say L.G. Albright on the board outside. My mother used to say that the L.G. really stood for Lord God and she used to call him Lord God Almighty. But not when my father was around. He once heard her say it and got so cross with her that he popped one of the veins in his neck, and had to go to bed for a day and a half. So she was a bit more careful after that.
Auntie Doris’s top pop hit of 1909: “Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside” Florrie Forde again. She was probably under the influence of that Skegness sailor. Well, she was under the influence of ruddy well something, any road.