Friday, 16 April 2010

Boots and books

I haven't always lived in Derby, but I grew up here and re-settled in the city nine years ago. Some parts have changed significantly since I was a child, but there are other places which I remember for a whole host of different reasons.

This shop, on the corner of St Peters Street and East Street is right in the centre of town. It was built in 1912 by Albert Nelson Bromley of Nottingham, for Boots the Chemist. The style was deliberately grand, with Venetian style windows, prominent gables and a covering of decorated stucco, all of which have contributed to its present status as a grade 2 listed building.

It is, unfortunately, not occupied at present. Boots moved out of here into the newly opened Eagle Centre in the 1970s and other shops have come and gone in the interim.

Now, this is where my memory may be playing tricks on me, but I believe that this is the building where Mum used to bring me to buy books. I recall a bookshop (or book department) on the third floor and, each month, I would bring my pocket money to fill in the gaps of my Enid Blyton collection.

Yes, I do realise that this admission ages me - and that Enid Blyton books are very frowned upon these days for their outdated attitudes towards minority groups and the working classes - but I, like many of my generation, grew up enthralled by stories of secret goings on in old or remote buildings, hidden passages, smuggler's caves, ghost trains, strange lights... The list goes on! Her books were rooted in the adventure and mystery genre, with fearless children taking on, and defeating, a series of disreputable adult crooks, usually placing themselves in great danger in the process and always solving the mystery by the end. I owe my love of reading to Miss Birch, my third year junior school teacher (that's Y5 to the younger generation) and The Ring O Bells Mystery.

'Politically correct' she may not be but, in one respect, Enid Blyton was way ahead of her time... One of her most famous characters was very gender non-conformist :p

1 comment:

  1. "...One of her most famous characters was very gender non-conformist"

    That would be George then (rather than Timmie the dog) ... and no one, that I recall, *ever* told her "George, don't do that!"

    Hurrah for the Famous Five ... I'm off to Kirrin Island, anyone got any lemonade??