The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Memories That Last A Lifetime …
November 16, 2010, 6:12 am
Filed under: Comment

When I was a little kid, there was a local greengrocers called “Mr James” and next to him was his daughters sweet shop, called Erica’s.

We would go there quite a lot because back then – 1974 – there were no supermarkets near where we lived and it was the only place to get groceries and fresh veg.

Anyway, around 1975, Gem – better known now as Asda – opened down the road and people suddenly stopped going to Mr James & Erica’s and started heading to a place where they offered more choice, cheaper prices and – most importantly for my Mum – anonymity from the small town mentality.

Because of the shift in customers, Mr James & Erica’s sold up in 1976 and went to Keyworth – a village about 7 miles away – and since then, we’ve seen a whole host of retailers take it’s place from other grocery shops through to hairdressers and double glazing showrooms.

I say this because when I was with my Mum on Sunday, I drove past the old shop and suddenly realised that I still referred to it as Mr James & Erica’s even though it’s not been like that for over 30 years.


Why has it got so deep in my consciousness?

Is it because it created a certain frame of reference in my life and if so, what?

Going out with my Mum?

Getting to choose a sweetie?

My first exposure to real community?

Not sure … maybe … but I do find it fascinating that despite many stores taking it’s place over the years – years where I still was part of that community – the name I still refer to is Mr James & Erica’s.

The thing is, it’s more than just a name to me … it means something, something good.

I still remember how upset I was when they moved and how I viewed the new owner with suspicion [well he did have ginger hair!]

Whilst I am sure there’s someone out there who could give me a rationalised reason for why I feel this way, the reality is that despite interacting with thousands of stores over the years, Mr James & Erica’s has a special place in my heart and so anyone who doubts the importance of ‘frames of reference’ and/or ‘first impressions’ is mad.

In these days where brands are seemingly obsessed with the short-term and maximum bang for their buck … it might be worth reminding them that by offering consistent little acts of emotional positivity, they could leave their audience with a more powerful, deeper and lasting mark than the biggest bursts of television advertising activity could ever achieve.

Wherever Mr James and his butch looking daughter Erica are – thanks for the memories.

38 Comments so far
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who the fuck are you and what have you done with campbell? is that you oprah? are you the one writing this over sentimental mental shit?

you might of thrown in some planning bollocks at the end to try and throw me off the scent but this isnt real campbell. bring the miserable fucker back, i dont come here to feel good and warm inside.

for the fucking record, what youre trying to bore the shit out of us with was said in a much better way with the “you never forget the name of your first teacher” campaign, though naturally your version of a teacher is someone who sells food which fucking proves this was written by oprah rather than campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

That teacher campaign was awesome. I’ve just tried to find it on Youtube but can’t – but I loved it and it certainly did more to make teaching appeal [though probably to egomaniacs] than the current batch of ads.

And trust me, the ‘nicey’ posts are coming to an end – it’s just a phase I was going through and misery and vindictiveness will soon be back, just as you like it.

Comment by Rob

“most importantly for my Mum – anonymity from the small town mentality.”

i know this mightn’t really answer your question, but that quote is the kind of gem needed on the weekend in a discussion about the nostalgia around ‘community’ and sharing/caring/loveliness that has been RUINED by all of us wanting more privacy (or choice, or both).

i’m probably giving humanity WAY more credit than is due, and not enough cynicism to the power of you marketing types, but i think there are reasons why we continue to leave the little guys behind, to shop in supermarkets, or – relating to my particular weekend discussion – use headphones/mobile mp3 players to ignore others.

if we all really wanted to share everything with each other, or have that small, insular familial community, i think we bloody well would. i just don’t think we take up these new ideas/objects/habits in droves when it’s solely down to marketing, or even cost.

hell, religion has stuck around for centuries as a community-based idea, yet some would say that’s a pretty weird, outdated, counterintuitive, unsustainable habit and/or business based on fantasy and indoctrination.

ok, so you have fond memories of james and erica, but i would have to question whether it’s nostalgia based on ‘lack’, as well as that utopian dream of childhood – you have no present relationship with erica and james to unravel the romance about it. you haven’t had to deal with how much of a creep james was, or perhaps have erica tell your ex-girlfriend that you used to buy 25 lollies every day when you were a teenager (for example, of course).

in a similar way, my friend has this notion that in the past we always enjoyed listening to each other on public transport, or in the street. that we always loved conversations with strangers, finding them valuable and community-building, and these pesky apple/sony people came along and killed off our poor old habits so now we’re all choosing to isolate.

whilst i can get super-sentimental about the past as well (er, homesick?) i think in doing so about society’s past habits, or changes in lifestyles discounts the ability humans have to make choices about their lives and our need to control our surroundings.

Comment by lauren

who are you and what have you done with lauren?

she wouldnt write ott shit like that, even less on a post by campbell. has the world been taken over by fucking freaks leaving the future of humanity in my hands? well bad fucking luck because all i have to do is turn off the fucking computer and peace is fucking restored.

and whoever you are, memories always fuck with the truth so youre probably right campbell/oprah is talking shit about mr fucking james and his hairy knuckled daughter and even if he isnt its because where he comes from, having a shop was like being visited by fucking aliens.

but i dont agree when you imply we dont want to share everything with each other or we would because i think we do. isnt the whole point of things like blogs and faceshitebook to offer that same sort of social belonging bollocks? its not the same as meeting outside the off license and talking shit as you drink a can of top deck because its all so fucking superficial but we still do it, we just like the idea of being in more control of what we talk about or what people know about us than back in the good old days when you could leave your back door open and not get mugged by some 13 year old meth addict.

campbell used to call it the illusion of intimacy but he might of been describing his sex life.

Comment by andy@cynic

Social belonging used to apply to this blog too but, as you point out, it’s been overrun by imposters and emotional incontinents lately. Thank goodness you’re not falling for that.

That said, there’s a difference between the imposed social belonging born of hanging-basket envy and the self-selection of true social belonging.

Comment by John

are you saying the illusion of intimacy is now or in the past?

oh, and lauren left her brain in an art bubble last week. i’ll be taking over programming for a while.

Comment by lauren

what you should be asking is do i give a fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

oh, sorry. do you give a fuck?

Comment by lauren

as much as i give a fuck about fcb.

Comment by andy@cynic

and what the fuck is fcb?

Comment by lauren

thats what everyone says.

Comment by andy@cynic

I know I shouldn’t admit that, but the above comment made me laugh out loud. Which is probably not the reaction of anyone who is holding shares in FCB.

Comment by Rob

Bloody hell, amongst all the trash talk is a moment of genuine debate and discussion. Even Andy [sort-of] makes sense.

And certain people are accusing me of being Oprah! Pah.

PS: Emotionally incontinent, might just be the best insult I’ve heard in years. Well done Mr Dodds, that’s the sort of form we’ve been missing from you lately.

PPS: The illusion of intimacy is much more about now and the future than the past, though I appreciate it could also be pointed at how societies once worked, with-or-without the internet.

Comment by Rob

i’m going with the past too.

Comment by lauren

oops. a bit OTT on the html tagging there.. tee hee.

Comment by lauren

This should make you cry like the pansy you are.

Comment by Billy Whizz

sounds like a fucking shitehole doesnt it. almost feel sorry for campbell. emphasis on almost.

Comment by andy@cynic

But it does have the Jolie Lingerie emporium.

Comment by John

sorry rob, but i felt like vomiting after that wiki entry.

Comment by lauren

ken clarke is the local mp. explains why campbell loves it so much as hes the only person in the entire fucking world who could make campbell look like a suave bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

There I was enjoying a little illusion of intimacy with
the purple-thighed Erica (OK he never said that) and
motherfucking Lauren and Andy go an interrupt. Thanks a lot.
BTW what is Erica doing now?

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

I’m not sure, but I swear to god she was ‘Bea Smith’ in Prisoner Cell Block H.

Comment by Rob

fuck i hope she was. bea was rad. shitloads better than running a sweet shop in a town of 25,000.

Comment by lauren

the guantanamo bay for stupid fucks.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks … my childhood memories smashed into a thousand pieces by cold hearted, cynical fucks.

Where’s the love? Where’s the humanity? Where’s the hope?

If it wasn’t for that wiki on West Bridgford [which I admit is kind of worrying that it exists] I may have had to book myself into a hospital for treatment but as my friend Dr Phil tells me, I just have to maintain strength and ignore all the negativity while trying to diet even though I tell women around the World they should be happy with who they are and not fall foul of the stereotypical media view of how a woman should look.

Comment by Rob [Or Maybe It's Oprah]

are you back on the booze again? youd be more fucking interesting if you were.

Comment by andy@cynic

but thats fucking relative as youre fucking boring as shit normally.

Comment by andy@cynic

And to think the producers of American Idol replaced Simon Cowell with Steven Tyler. Madness.

Comment by Rob

campbell, let’s face it.. you have a life full of great new memories and distance of the origin of your memories, so when you go back to ur hood, it feels nice to do memory lane..

them fucks who never left, who walk past the same building and see all the owners over the they could think of mr james as something else..

like ideas, if these are the only memories you have, they are in danger of turning sour fast..

Comment by niko

dont think fuckers in nottingham care, every shop is as good to rob as the next fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic

I know what you’re saying Niko but Paul – who has pretty much stayed there all his life – also remembers Mr James & Erica’s with the same level of fondness. I think what you’re saying becomes more prevalent when you get to experience the ‘owner’ in later life – so your memories are confronted with reality and you realise they’re not nice and kind and associated with good times, they’re grumpy bastards who try and get away with charging 1 pound 75 pence for a quarter of Cola Cubes.

Comment by Rob

or I just hate running into the people I grew up with, having nothing in common with them no more and learing last week that one of them got 16 years (16 fucking years) and this post reminded me of that..

Comment by niko

Good post. Rubbish mates.

Comment by The Kaiser

Tough love.

Comment by John

Good post.
Whenever I see the shopping centre near my old house I have to adjust to the fact it’s moved about and changed.

It’s another example of how memories and emotional connections can be really important to brands and businesses of all sizes.

Lovely post. Though I hope Erica doesn’t see the last line…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

It’s about the people and the interactions of course. The places are simply transient facilitators. Hmm what could brands learn from that?

Comment by John

campbell. one more sentimental pile of shite post this week and im coming over to fucking kick you in the fucking nuts. that should help you sleep easy.

Comment by andy@cynic

I like the story on James and Erica for a few reasons:

1. Where I come from (sort of), shops wouldn’t be named after people. There would be no James and Erica or James Something & Son(s). Since we’re talking Eastern Europe, all the buildings had communist names which were far, far worse than your James and Erica. “Victory” (“Victoria” department store), “Triumph” (There’s an arch of Triumph, much like the French version), “Unirea” (union), “Patria” (homeland) and the list can go on. James and Erica sounds like PARADISE and a much nicer place. Of course the names have changed but some really big department stores and cinemas still have these names (Patria & Unirea). When all your life you’ve shopped in places that reminded you of how shit it all used to be, people queue in McDonald’s. There’s an iconic photo of the queues in McD when it first opened in Russia.

2. It actually lasted under the same name for so long. Maybe 1% of the shops I used to know as a child have been around for longer than a couple of years. In a place where they hate the old, everything gets demolished and rebuilt, repurposed, nothing kept. James and Erica would have gone bust after a few years and replaced with ‘something something impex 2000’

Comment by andrea

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