Part 20: A Nottingham Lads True Tales of Woe

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Co-op House Nottingham

I was working at the Nottingham Cooperative Society’s Co-op House on Upper Parliament Street, in the food hall, as general dogsbody, and not very popular goffer.

The Caves

On my first day I was sent down to the cellars (Tunnels come caves) below the building, to lay mouse traps and rat poison, in an effort clear the place of the little mites. An order I thought a little out of the ordinary, but I followed them, collected the traps and poison, and went down into the bowels of the building to do my duty. (Little realising that the staff had set up a tape recording of eerie sounds, thinking it would be fun to scare me to death!)

I soon spotted the ‘Bush’ tape recorder after hearing the sounds it emitted, and carried on laying the traps and poison pots. By the time I’d finished, there were already some dead rats in a few of the traps.

Full of myself, I extricated a larger one from the trap, and carrying it in my outstretched hand, re-entered the store warehouse smiling and grinning, saying to I thought the mates I’d left assembling orders fro delivery, thinking I being rather droll and witty: “‘Ere you are then, dead as a dodo, we can put it in the mincer with the beef un make some money… haha…”

I stopped as soon as I realised the area shops inspector was stood directly in front of me!

I managed to get another job with Tesco.

Pat Phoenix’s Visit to Tesco

Pat Phoenix as Elsie Tanner

Tesco on Granby Street in Nottingham, had arranged a promotional visit from Pat Phoenix, who at the time was playing the part of the very popular feisty Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street. She was supposed to sign autographs for ten minutes, and then do a mock shop to impress the public.

It was utter pandemonium, we had earlier built a wall of Heinz soup boxes covered in colourful crepe paper, behind which we had placed a table and chair for her to sit on and greet her fans, and offer her signature to them. (With her very large body guard stood next to her)

So many emotional fans turned up, we had to get all the male staff on the shop floor, to try and control them as they all wanted to speak to her first. At one time, we all linked arms to try and stem the rush of the dear old biddies from causing physical damage to the Ms Phoenix, it was like a football match at times.

She and her bodyguard chain smoked throughout the time Pat was signing her signature for her fans. Rothman’s King Size they both smoked.

After about 40 minutes, she was able to escape the confines of the table and chair, did a very quick pretend shop, took her cheque, and left.

As she was leaving, I noticed that the soup boxes had their crepe paper coverings torn apart, and the tins were crushed and spread out on the floor during the melee. At this point, I also realised that I had blood coming from my ear-hole, and running down my white coat.

A few days later, a photographer, who had been taking pictures of the event on the day, came in, to find the staff in the photos he’s taken to sell them a print.

One of the girls (Kathleen, I remember Kathleen… sorry…) pointed out to me a particular photo; it was taken when I was in the line of staff trying to stem the flow of women, and it showed an old lady, about 5 stones and 4 foot tall, just about to push the pointed end of her rolled up umbrella into my ear-hole, in her efforts to get through to her soap opera idol!

Well at least I now know why I had to have four stitches in my lug-hole!

More Tesco Tales to follow…

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