Sometimes I think I'm living in a parallel universe. (Distant chorus: "You are!") About forty years ago the designer John Gorham was commissioned by the Sunday Times Magazine to illustrate an article in their 'Sacred Cows' series. I've no idea what it was about now (something to do with butchers or meat I expect) but I cut it out and stuck it in my scrapbook. A little while later I was drinking in a Covent Garden pub with John and I asked him how long it took him to paint the bucolic scene of cattle and sheep. "I'm a designer Pete" he said "I found a stock carrier bag, took the lettering off it and put in generic 'Family Butcher' typography". You can see the superb result on page 151 of that book English Allsorts. And for all that time I wondered if I'd ever find an original bag.
You know what's coming next don't you? The book has just come out and yesterday, for the first time in months, I go to the market in Market Harborough. As I say to the boys after I haven't been for a while "Something's calling me". So I present myself at my favourite stall and just as I look up from a 1938 Bartholomew's map of Wharfedale I see the owner sifting through a pile of things he'd just been given for sale. In a fraction of a second I saw the above. "Hang on" I heard myself saying hoarsely.
Not only is it the same stock butcher's bag (with slightly different folds on the cows and sheep) it's from a place I've only quite recently discovered, also mentioned in the book. Wimbleton's isn't there any more, but if it's food you're after in Porthleven's Fore Street then there's The Corner Deli, Top Chippy and Twisted Currant.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
2 days ago