Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Boots On Parade
Both my parents worked for Boots the Chemists; in fact they met in the Wellingborough branch. Readers of More From Unmitigated England will remember that once the liason was discovered (or owned up to) my mother was summarily dispatched to the Matlock branch. In this volume's predecessor Unmitigated England I mentioned the sign above. It's on a corner of the High Street (Parade) and the narrow lane that leads down to the cathedral in Canterbury, and whenever I'm there (as on last Saturday) I check that it's still up on the wall. It's one of those rituals one does, quiet personal assurances that everything's as it should be. I first saw it on holiday in about 1957, my father doubtless in the shop either telling everybody he was from Leicester Boots or chatting up the girl on the photographic counter. And then, much to my amazement, I watched Powell & Pressburger's wonderful 1944 film A Canterbury Tale and, in a crane shot that follows a procession turning into the lane for the cathedral, this same sign appears in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. I noticed on Saturday that the shop sadly isn't a Boots anymore, (banished to a shopping centre or retail park I suppose), but I'm so glad the sign is still there, from an age when the integrity of the building and its environment was taken into account when signing. And another reward for always looking up.