Connie Rudd crossed the road at the bottom of Laburnham Avenue to start her job in Billy Burston’s Shop she walked along until she reached Potsies paper shop then went in and bought five Park Drive cigarettes she opened the packet just as her friend Lorrain McLaughlin came running up beside her.
“Giz a fag Connie will yer, am gaspin.’
“Yor like a bloody homing pigeon you Lorrain; yer must have seen me gan in the shop did yer.’
“Aye a did and I’m glad as well cos’ I diven’t get paid until Friday and wor Tommy won’t buy me any tabs. Just cos he doesn’t smoke yer na.’
I buy mine oot of the hoose keeping money; if the rent doesn’t get paid sod them that’s what a say.’ Connie handed her a cigarette and she lit it using petrol filled lighter as she stooped down. Connie stood outside of the Hadrian store as she was early. Lorrain took another puff of her cigarette then nipped the end of it and put it in her bag. I’m ganna have to make that last me aal day.’
“See you later then said Connie as she finished her cigarette then walked into the shop. The shop next door was called Ronnie Hancock’s he was a Scotsman and he was reported as being very mean with both his customers and his staff. Billy Burston’ spoke with what sounded like a cockney accent, but unlike his rival he would give his customers tick. He would write in a black ledger all the goods that you bought with your name and address written at the top of the page. It was dated and then at the end of the week you came in and paid it off. Ronnie Hancock never gave credit. There was a big sign above the till which read: “please don’t ask for credit as refusal often offends.’
Rumour has it that both Hancock and Burston had a fall out and they never spoke. Ronnie Hancock would not serve you if you shopped at Burston’s.
He cut the thinnest boiled ham people ever saw and the bacon wasn’t much thicker either. He kept a cake rack from Archers the bakers at the bottom of the shop all filled with delicious Chocolate éclairs, Peach Melba’s, and meringues. On the middle shelf there was some mini Cadbury Swiss Rolls wrapped in thick chocolate. Young boys would often wait until he was slicing bacon and chatting to customers before they would pull out the tray from the middle shelf as they stood in the queue and their hands would go inside and the would steal several Swiss Rolls and put them in their pockets.
You not only had to be quick enough so that no one else in the queue saw you but also keep an eye on Ronnie Hancock at all times. His eyes scanned the whole shop and watched everyone as he talked and it was only when he weighted the ham and bacon his eyes were drawn to the scales but only for a split second. There was a price war going on between the two shops and every day they would both be out with some white wash and knocking off penny or tuppence off something to encourage customers to shop in their store.’
Weekly Specials like Daz washing powder 2/- 2d would be plastered across Hancock’s window then on Burston’s you would see Squeezy washing up liquid 1/- 1d or a penny off six bread buns.’
One morning, Hancock came downstairs from his flat above where he lived to find someone had painted “We Rob You Here” in large capital letters in gloss paint across the front window. He spent nearly two hours scraping the paint off. He was furious and swore if he caught the bastards who had done it he would commit murder.
Some said it was Billy Burston who had done it to teach him a lesson.