Dunkley’s and the Co-Op – by PP

It was – the Crooked Billet’s gone as well – down in Ham Street there’s a pub called the Brewery Tap. Across the road from there are some houses and one of those houses used to be the co-op and Mr Cox ran it like a private shop, really. He was very good, he was terribly disabled with arthritis; his hands were very difficult for him but he used to bone up the bacon and slice it – you know, he had his bacon delivered in large pieces so you could choose your cuts but most co-ops had it already sliced delivered to them but he didn’t.

When I discovered the co-op I did most of my shopping there. Round the back was a general shop with a post office counter in it. I used to sometimes go shopping in there until Mr Sharp, who ran the shop and the post office, was very rude to one of my children because he was giggling about – he was quite nasty to him and I thought, no one is speaking to my children like that, so I spoke up and said I didn’t think that was appropriate and I didn’t buy anything else in his shop again.

Then we had Mrs Dunkley who – there is still her old shop on Ham Street and it is… I don’t know what it is called – it is run by an Asian man, not sure what nationality he is, but anyway he runs it –but Mrs Dunkley used to have the general grocery facing Ham Street and also a shop behind, across a little courtyard, which faced onto Back Lane. That was a grocery as well but it she ran it as two separate enterprises; one for doing deliveries and things and one was for casual people and had sweets in it so children could go in there. She was a funny old character. Apparently she began making ice cream in the little place that became eventually a green grocer– it isn’t any more – I think it belongs to funeral people now. It is a little tiny cottage almost on its own before you get to the church which used to be the school.

Anyway, Mrs Dunkley was resident in this little cottage place and apparently she used to make ice cream and that’s how she began. She was very enterprising and her husband was not actually terribly bright but he could drive so she used to get him to do deliveries but when I discovered the co-op I did less shopping in Kingston and more at the co-op. I could have it delivered by the boy on a bike and that was very convenient so I didn’t have to carry an awful lot. But going to Kingston was an enterprise that the children liked because on Monday they had a proper market with animals; pigs and chickens and things, which hasn’t happened for years, but that was always very nice. They liked that. Kingston market used to be an interesting place but it is not now – boring. But…