Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Carols.

So far, I’ve not heard Slade’s, ‘So here it is, Merry Christmas’. If I do, and I doubt it will be on Queen’s Rd, that will be the time I roll down the shutters, put the answerphone on and retire from all festivities. That and that bloody Roy Wood, Wizard one really, really piss me off. Gripe over. I do like the effort that the Queen’s Rd. businesses have gone to with all of them having a tree. Must be a sign of improved income as I think this is the first year there has been complete unanimity. Bar Dos Hermanos/Barcelonetta take the biscuit for bewst deco’s, so they will get my hard earned later in the week when I venture out for one to take the edge off. Might have two.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Always a queue.

There was a time, some ten years ago, when everyone was concerned that Queens Road was going down hill. There were several empty shops. The shops that survived were (with notable exceptions that still thrive) offering nothing special in terms of service or products. The turning point came when the Quakers 100 year rule ended banning pubs from Queens Road. Hogan's Bar opened immediately. From then on things improved. One person invests, so do other on the back of it. Some four years ago Jackson's appeared on the scene, putting the lacklustre Spar out of business within weeks. I hate supermarkets, their bright lights and cunning ways of overcharging you and convincing you it’s a special offer simultaneously, but Jackson's is offering residents what they want from 7 to 11 every day. Oddly, their planning application to expand was refused as locals thought it made Queens Road too busy!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Large chest for sale.

The ads posted in shop windows are always addictive. I bought a garden pond in the summer for a fiver. Took all weekend to dig it in. The Newsagent splits the ads into two sections, conveniently. This side for odds and ends and the other side for accommodation. Having a roof over my head I am always drawn to this side and read every ad. The red heart is a rather touching ad from ‘Frank’ seeking a ‘trustworthy woman, as friend and probably more!’. Items for sale first appear it ridiculously high prices, then drop week on week to the true value. ‘Thomas the Tank Engine Bed, cost £400 (sucker) accept £150 (no chance)’ phone Johnny 07922960728.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sole Man.

So far south, he’s only just still on Queens Road, is Jan Kirski, of Superfine Shoe Repairs. I first photographed Jan in his shop about 15 years ago, and then again today. Nothing has changed. He doesn’t even look any older. He is 82, not a bit dodery and as sharp as anybody. Jan was in the Polish navy as a lad and married a Leicester girl, moving to here in about 1953. He is still married to her and they live quite close in a ‘nice house’. He bought the shoe repair business as a going concern from a chap who was retiring. It had once been a fishmongers, hence the tiles, but has been a cobblers, continuously for about 70 years. Jan’s only major investment was to buy a German scuffing and polishing machine when he first bought the business. This has now given faultless service for 50 years, needing only replacement v belts and recently (in the last 10 years) a new electric motor. Entering, it is a living, breathing, smelling museum. NOTHING has changed in about 70 years. If you are ever down this way, take an old pair of shoes in, just for the experience.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Smooth Tarmac.

About 10 years ago, planners, planned, in some remote office where the coffee is tasteless and the girls have thin lips and no waistline, that Queens Rd should have traffic calming humps. Bastard speed humps top the rest of us. There was uproar amongst both shop keepers and residents and for once all were mobilised into defeating this menace together. Many letters were written and phone calls made and it actually worked. We won!! The French would have simply blocked the road with turnips until the council were drawn to their knees, but we actually did it the English way and won. I still can’t really believe it but just look how smooth that tarmac is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bollards to you too.

About a year ago these appeared over the space of a couple of weeks. The very day after completion two of them were flattened! Fantastic! They must have cost a fortune and of course, we have paid. They are there just to stop the few parking on the pavement and cracking the slabs, but I think a certain amount of chaos adds character to a High Street. Anyone who’s wandered around a North African Souk will appreciate the manic chaos of the place. Vans, donkey carts, people, all thrown into a tightly confined space and being sliced through by mopeds, some with a goat as a passenger. They do not have a blame culture there. You get hit, it’s your own stupid fault for not looking. People are allowed to think for themselves and as a result are far more alert. I can imagine that here on Queens Rd White van Man will reverse into a bollard, it will then be tripped over and the tripper will claim huge compensation from us, because he wasn’t looking where he was going. Init.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Twin Peaks

Without wishing to encroach on Sir Peter’s domain I have often thought that these two wonderful towers on Queens Road need drawing to peoples attention. Diametrically opposed at either end of the strip they guard the area from unwanted influences. Well, they don’t really, but they do look good and I have to pause for thought to imagine that some poor sod had to do that tiling on the roof, in the style of a French Chateau, without a Health and Safety Policy, or Risk Assessment Document. Both of them look suitable for locking up some disturbed offspring back in Victorian times when that is what one did with the socially unacceptable. Thinking about it, the curtains are always drawn in the Howard Rd. one......

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It'll never catch on.

A crisp Autumn morning and being out there early, the sun is on the fronts of the shops. The astute will notice a few changes. Where once was the only real bakers shop, (10 years ago, at least) now we have a Subway, replacing what was, until recently Olives Bar. Olives has now moved upstairs where no one can see it. Consequently I doubt whether anyone will frequent it, when there are other bars that you can peer into before committing to entry. Can’t see Subway making anybody rich either. It’s just not Clarendon Parky enough. Further down the road is the Post Office. Those with a long memory will recall it was run by a very grumpy bloke called Giles, who thought he owned the whole road. He retired, but still haunted his replacements Dave and Reane, by barging to the front of the queue. I was in there once when Dave reminded him, with considerable assertion, that he had to queue with everyone else! The Post Office is now run by two very efficient and friendly Indian brothers, though, no doubt, doomed by threatened cuts any any moment.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hot Gossip in the Butchers.

Gossiping, as chaps do, in the butchers this morning, the subject somehow came round to massage parlours, probably following a front page feature in last night’s Leicester Mercury reporting on an armed robbery at two in the city. Clyde, the butcher before Shaun, who now owns it, had talked of one on Queens Road in the 90’s (Not the bird, the decade). It used to be behind Sansomes the haberdashery, that is now the closed Wy Bar. More surprising than this, though, was the shocking revelation that the Police had raided an illegal brothel on Montague Road, next to the hairdressers, just last month! Apparently it was run and staffed by Chinese. How odd the things that happen right under your nose, so to speak, and yet are totally hidden from view. Such is the diversity of culture in Queens Road.

By the way. Shaun sells quite the best fillet steak I have ever had. All the way from Scotland in a big lorry.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dawn Chorus.

Out for a refreshing stroll round the park at 6.00 am this morning and as I returned Queen’s Road was just starting to wake up. A Warburton’s lorry was delivering bread to Coombs/Hampshire's Bakers. This used to be Hampshire's, but following financial difficulties at Coombs the two have merged, so we still have one bakers in Queens Rd. Not so long ago there were three. The big one on the corner of Montague Rd run by Mr. Greasley, Coombs and opposite, this one. Their demise must be due to cheaper competition, but also, and perhaps reassuringly, the expanding use of home bread makers.
There is a remarkable amount of activity this early as traders prepare for the day and it is reassuring that, in the days of huge supermarkets, the family run businesses can still survive, or even thrive.

Monday, November 12, 2007

There it was, gone.

Venturing south this lunchtime into the wasteland that is the other side of the lights, I noticed a large gap in the buildings where there used to be Hoyes Soft Drinks factory and a business called SPCK, selling religious books. Presumably staffed by ladies and gents wearing sensible shoes, benign smiles and tut tutting at most things. They would certainly have tut tutted in a big way if they had ever ventured into the small park behind the building. Now exhibited in it’s full glory, is the art of a talented gratify artist, identity unknown. There are quite a few of these little parks dotted around Clarendon Park, but in 27 years of residence I have to confess to never seeing this one before. Which must be why this artist was able to labour away for hours to create these. Now, at last, his art can be enjoyed by all, until they sling up an apartment block and hide it all away for ever.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Not as warm as it looks.

Gazing out of the window one could be forgiven for thinking it was a hot summer’s day, but when I popped round to Queens Rd to post some letters there was a definite nip in the air. It is, after all, November and the leaves are falling quicker than International Bank profits. Here, for your amusement is the ‘new’ cafe, deserted, of course. But not just because of the weather. No. It’s THE WRONG SIDE OF THE LIGHTS! No-one, but no-one crosses Clarendon Park Road to head south into the abyss that is the other end of the Queens Road. In the other picture. The cultured end of Queens Road, is Polly’s standing proud, a specialist in that rather dated flouncy cotton clothing. Polly, a stalwart character, is selling up as trade is not brisk enough to keep this and her two other shops running. So, there’s a sale on and you could pick up a bargain in tie die Indian cotton. Light another joss stick and pass me a fat one.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A feeble Autumn start.

I was truly shocked when my pal, Tom, an ex Clarendon Parker, now living in Germany, emailled me to say he had just watched the entire 9:48 minutes of the Number 44 bus ride from Charles Street to Queen’s Road on You Tube! If there is truly a thirst for nostalgic items on God’s own Clarendon Park, then I shall make it my duty to keep all ex pats up to date on the too-ings and fro-ings of our busy Queens Road. Every time I pop round there to post a letter, or buy a kit kat, as I just did, I shall take my camera and snap something. As long as I can be arsed I shall bung the best up onto Mr Google’s blog service and amuse all of us. So. Here to kick off with is a general view from outside the Bookies, nee Midland Bank of old and an interior shot of our very well run Newsagents, CP Media Newsagents, formerly County News.