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.
This heart was captured in a wood two years ago. Seemed an appropriate image for today, but for a brilliant take on Valentine cards you could do no better than to go over to the warm embrace of the Wartime Housewife and her latest posting. Love to All.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)
"Open this book with reverence. It is a hymn to England". Clive Aslet
"Enchanting...delightful". The Bookseller "Cheekily named" We Love This Book
The Cigarette Papers
"Unexpectedly pleasing and engrossing...beautifully illustrated". The Bookseller
"Until the happy advent of Peter Ashley's Cross Country it has, ironically, been foreigners who have been best at celebrating Englishness". Christina Hardyment / The Independent
More from Unmitigated England
"Give this book to someone you know- if not everyone you know." Simon Heffer, Country Life. "When it comes to spotting the small but telling details of Englishness, Peter Ashley has no equal." Michael Prodger, Sunday Telegraph