Saturday, 18 April 2009
Broken Britain - 8: Maitland & Co., R.I.P.
I know this recession is hurting a lot of small businesses, but sometimes a closure will happen that you take personally.
And so it was yesterday, I was in London (getting a couple of silk waistcoats made up - but that’s another story for another day). Walking along Piccadilly I reached the top of Piccadilly Arcade and I just felt a strange hollow where something familiar should be. I turned and witnessed the stark, empty space where once stood the chemists Maitland & Co. (established 1849), next to the clothiers Budd & Co.
Where was that window crammed with a cascade of odd and fragrant toiletries? Where was the wall of gigantic sponges (bigger than two fists) pressed up against the window? And that familiar huge unfolding Swiss-Army knife…?
All that remained was an empty space. And in the sad vacant window were just rows of empty glass shelving; an old shaving advert from the 1940s, a lonely shaving razor and a solitary large bottle of brilliantine priced at £5.50 (I stood there ogling that bottle like a child looking into a sweetshop).
That, and a simple hand-written note taped to the front door “…Maitland & Co….forced to cease trading…thank you to all our past customers…forward all enquiries to accountants Blah, Blah Blah…”.
Perhaps it was the suddenness of the closure. Perhaps it was that unexpected gap in the street fabric that I had passed so many times since my schoolboy days in the 1960s. It was just…’there’ - it always was. Perhaps we just took it for granted that it always would be there…. And where will I get my sponges now?
So be it. Maitland & Co. (Est. 1849), R.I.P. 2009
It’s not just a bit of history lost, a small part of my life has just crumbled away with it. Like I said, there are some closures you just take personally.