Mrs Miles's Sweet Shop
Saturday morning was the highlight of the week. When our errands were runand our jobs completed, we would gather at Barrow Green to gaze into the window of Mrs. Miles's sweet shop. Here clutching our weekly one penny pocket money, vital decisions were made.
What would influence our choice this week? Would it be quantity sweets that lasted, or perhaps quality would be the main factor. If it was quantity, liquorice “Imps” topped the list. A penny purchased a great many of these. They were kept in a red tin on a shelf at the left of the window. Pink cashews were another quantity choice along with “Dolly Mixtures” and “Love Hearts” that had an amorous message printed on them. These were bought mainly by the girls!
Sweets that lasted?......... I think that “Gob Stoppers” would be high on the list. A sweet nearly as big as a golf ball that as it was sucked it changed colour. Often the cry was heard, “What colour are you down to?”. Out of the mouth came the sweet. “I'm down to green” or I'm on red", then back into the mouth it went to carry on sucking until it had disappeared! Boiled sweets such as “Pear Drops” and “Acid Drops”, red striped “Clove” sweets all lasted and of course there was always a packet of “P.K.” chewing gum.
Penny bars of chocolate were on the quality list as were “Coconut Squares” (four for a penny), “Sherbert Dabs” in a triangular packet with a liquorice tube at one corner through which the powder was sucked. “Liquorice Allsorts”, various toffees and many more could be purchased with our weekly pocket money.
Once we had made our choice, into the shop we would go. “Ping!!” went the bell on the door and as if by magic out from the back room came Mrs. Miles. A generous woman was Mrs. Miles, both in stature and demeanour. “Hello. my dear, what would you like today?”, and we handed over our penny for a bag of treasures.
Dunhills made sweets of all shapes and sizes and on “Boat Race Day” they gave away light or dark blue favours. Strange thing is that which ever university you chose to support as a boy remained the same throughout your days.
If it rained on “Boat Race Day” as it often did, we had our own race. As the water ran down the gutter from Barrow Green we raced with two matchsticks (our boats). The first to reach the drain opposite the “Tavern” was the winner. Parked cars were needless to say not a problem in those days!