Unusual but effective...

  Brumas 21:00 28 Apr 2007

In the 70s, just after we wed, my wife and I bought an olde-worlde Sweets&Tobacconists in Ripponden in West Yorkshire. It hadn’t been altered since the turn of the century, it was very small, the floor space was the equivalent in size to four telephone boxes and the similarity didn’t end there. The door was situated in the right hand corner, so as you entered the shop, the interior of which was entirely behind glass from the counter upwards, you stood effectively in a large telephone box with glass panes to the left and front of you. Thick glass covered the counter areas and on the glass panes ,beautiful brass-backed porcelain lettering advertised “Mitchells Prize crop and golden dawn tobacco” behind which, in serried rows stood over 100 jars of weigh-out sweets. We served through a small hatch on the left so the whole thing was very secure, no problems with shop lifters as nothing could be accessed and, on the odd occasions when I had to go the wholesalers I knew that my wife was safe as she was behind it all.
I had a pretty fierce dog in the back too!
I also sold black and brown twist pipe tobacco, which I had to cut in one ounce lengths and pigtail tobacco which I sold similarly – in the past it used to be sold by your collar size – truly!

I was gutted when I learnt that when we sold it, the new owners just ripped everything out and threw it all in a skip – it would have fitted marvellously into Beamish Open Air museum or the likes as it was so unique! Thank heavens I took a photograph to remind me. We have been back to see it and now it is just an ordinary wee shop, very sad!


Initially when the school kids came in, some of them would just point to a jar and ask for 2 oz. of that or 6 pennorth of those, because A) they couldn’t read very well or B) they couldn’t be bothered. Yes, No, Please and Thank You were strangers to their vocabulary.

Around this time I was also training my dog and I found a lightly rolled-up newspaper secured with a couple of rubber bands a useful ‘training aid’. Accompanying a vocal command, a light tap delivered to its haunches, produced a disproportionately loud thwacking noise, without causing great pain, focusing the dog’s attention whenever needed i.e. when it bit my heavily padded arm too tightly and wouldn’t immediately let go – I was trying to train it to leap and grab my arm as I ran away,( as you do), just like those well trained police dogs!

Next time the kids came in I made sure they were polite and said please and thank you otherwise, they got a, VERY LIGHT tap on the bonce with the trusty newspaper. They thought it hilarious and soon got into the swing of things and sometimes, when they came in with their parents, they deliberately omitted to say please thinking I wouldn’t pursue normal policy in front of Mum & Dad, but quick as a flash out would come the trusty newspaper straight on target – and not ONE parent ever complained! In fact they generally said to their kids, words to the effect of “Serves you right for not saying please/thank you etc” Also I didn’t lose any young customers over it, they could have gone to the paper shop if they felt uncomfortable with it, in fact trade increased slightly as the kids brought their pals for the fun of it!

A lot of the less brighter kids were not very good readers, no – I didn’t use the newspaper in this case, I just persevered and prompted them until eventually they could read the names of their favourite sweets and could ask for them instead of just pointing to a jar and asking for some of that! I found that quite satisfying.

These days, where everything is strained through the P.C. sieve, would have probably seen me in a lot of trouble!

  Kate B 21:30 28 Apr 2007

And frankly, so it should. Sorry, Brumas, while I agree that a lot of young kids are way out of line and not kept in line by their parents, it's still absolutely not up to you to hit them, however lightly. I think it is certainly worth pointing out to kids when manners are lacking, but hitting someone else's child is not on.

  woodchip 21:45 28 Apr 2007

It may have saved someones life after the training, And sure it did not kill them. Too many do gooders today and not enough that stand up for what is right.

  Brumas 23:28 28 Apr 2007

Hit is a strong word - good heavens, do you not think if I had "hit" them, their parents would have allowed it?? They would have strung me up and I would have deserved it!
No, the emphasis was on the loud noise and regularity of the action.

  Forum Editor 23:31 28 Apr 2007

for hitting someone else's child. It has nothing whatsoever to do with being a 'do-gooder'and everything to do with commonsense. Think about the possible consequences of allowing total strangers the right to discipline your children in this way and you'll see how silly it would be.

I hardly think that hitting children with a rolled up newspaper is an appropriate way to teach them good manners - that's something that should be done by their parents. It isn't necessary to hit a child, or for that matter a dog, in order to teach. It can easily be done in other ways.

  spuds 23:56 28 Apr 2007

I see that the prime minister Tony Blair is now stating that " his analysis of the problem had been 'incomplete' and led Labour to 'the wrong policy conclusion' during his decade in power". This was in remark to a 10 year old boy's shocking behaviour, who as become one of the youngest people to be given an Asbo.

  Brumas 00:04 29 Apr 2007

Surely if what I was doing was so totally reprehensible the parents would have soon reacted? They would have stopped their children coming to my shop; by allowing them to continue using my shop they must have felt there was no problem and they were happy with what went on? The whole thing was a light hearted comic exercise into which all the children entered whole heartedly.

If anything my rolled up newspaper was merely a battacchio "When struck, the battacchio produces a loud smacking noise, though little force is transferred from the object to the person being struck"

  Forum Editor 00:17 29 Apr 2007

I think the point is that it wasn't up to you to discipline other peoples' children, simply because they didn't say 'please' and 'thankyou'. That kind of thing just can't be acceptable; if it was allowed to become a generally accepted principle the results could be horrendous.

The parents to whom you refer should have been teaching their children themselves, rather than encouraging you to hit them with a rolled up newspaper. Anyway, it's all in the past. I'm sure you aren't advocating that rolled up newspaper hitting should become a general thing with shopkeepers.

  Totally-braindead 00:25 29 Apr 2007

If you did this sort of thing now Brumas, you would be in court within a week.
It does not matter that no harm was done and it was just a light tap or however you wish to describe it, it also makes no difference that the kids were rude not saying please or thank you.

I was accused of hitting a kid once and a right evil little toe rag he was too. I never touched him and fortunatly the whole incident was caught on camera. The parents when they saw this clammed up, they had previously been threatening me for manhandling their little angel who could do no wrong. Even going so far as to threaten me with the Police for assault. Fortunatly the camera proved their angel was a lying little toerag. The parents never appologised, they just clammed up and stormed off glaring at me as if somehow it was my fault that their child got into trouble.
With parents like this its little wonder the boy was the way he was. I wonder now where he is and what he is doing.
Probably 5 years for arson or robbery thinking about it. Last time I heard of him he was in front of a childrens panel after burning a factory down. Delightful child.

  Brumas 11:37 29 Apr 2007

No, I am most emphatically not advocating all shopkeepers adopt my old 'tactic' - but, as you say "it's all in the past" - it was just an observation on my part.

My title could arguably be meant to describe my unique shop, not my unique 'tactics' and to be quite honest I was expecting some oohs & aahs over the former :o((

  Kate B 12:01 29 Apr 2007

The shop sounds terrific - have you got any pictures of it?

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