For 30 years we’ve had this shop. My father has owned it since they came from India in the 1970’s. Back then he only sold newspapers, sweets and cigarettes. Now we try to have everything. We can’t compete otherwise. People will just go to the supermarkets. We even sell alcohol. It’s funny, not many people buy the newspaper anymore but they still call us the paper shop.
People say it isn’t nice around here. I love it though, there’s a big sense of community. People don’t really have much but they seem to make the most of it. Don’t get me wrong, there are problems. The kids cause problems and late at night there are people selling drugs in the square. No one has ever bothered us though, they all know my father. There seems to be some respect for him.
People just see us as the paper shop in the square. They don’t realise that we have a window to the whole estate. Everyone that comes into the shop, we know something about them. We overhear conversations, we have conversations, we know which newspaper you read, we know which cigarettes you smoke, we know which alcohol you drink. It’s not nosy, you just can’t help it.
My father has seen you grow up from a child to the adult you are now. He can remember when you came in to the shop to buy sweets when your mother gave you 20p. He can remember when you and your friends tried to steal a can of coke and he let you go telling you not to do it again. Now he sees you come in each day to buy your cigarettes, beer and a newspaper. He doesn’t judge you, because he’s seen it all before.
Even I have watched the change in society over the years. I have seen the changes in fashion, the changes in people’s attitudes to each other. Years ago the school kids would be polite, now you have to let them in two at a time. Let them in two at a time and make sure you watch what they are doing while they are in the shop. We’ve seen more than most of the people that live here.
They will miss us when we’re gone. They won’t be able to pop downstairs to get their newspaper in the morning, they’ll have to make the long walk to the supermarket. The kids won’t have their sweet shops anymore. The lady in the supermarket won’t ask how your mother is because he knows her. Times change though I suppose, people don’t buy newspapers anymore and we can’t afford to compete with the supermarket.