Thursday 25 April 2024

Product Placement #26: WH Smith

It's a sad day for Huddersfield with the announcement that our local WH Smith is closing down. The Piazza Shopping Centre, a wonderfully 70s concrete carbuncle (built two years before I was born) is to be demolished and replaced with some shiny space age Jetson's promenade... and Smiths has elected not to seek an alternative location in the town. 

There are those who argue (quite vocally on local areas of the book of faces) that Huddersfield town centre has been dying slowly for years now, and that this is another nail in its coffin. I'd rather not be drawn into such debates. The town centre where I spent many a happy Saturday morning with my mum, stopping off at all the local newsagents (including Smiths) to see what new comics I cold find... that place is long gone. But so is the culture that fed it. Back then, in the pre-internet era, I could buy four comics for a pound. Nowadays I'd be lucky to buy one and get change from a fiver. You can't turn back the hands of time.

Here are a few songs in honour of WH Smith. You may have won the battle with John Menzies, but nothing lasts forever...

Let's start not in Yorkshire, but over t'other side o' Pennines...

I kissed my girl, by PC World
I dropped me crisps, outside WHSmiths
They chopped down that tree, to build a KFC

Even further West, they still get their comics from WH Smiths... but I'm not sure they're paying for them...

Then on W.H. Smiths, I steal some books, some graphic novels and some comics
And I spend the afternoon in Maccy D's
Drinking milk shake, reading Spiderman and Tank Girl

Meanwhile, up in the North East, Richard Dawson pops into Smiths during this autobiographical epic...

I'm starting a BTEC in Engineering at Tynemouth College
My thermos flask leaks parsnip soup on the metro
Clogging up the keys of my MacBook
Carrot pennies steam amidst a pyre of pencils
Ruck-sack dripping up the steps of WH Smith's
To buy a fresh pad of paper

The next track is also a very personal tune, from a collection written during lockdown. I can't find out much about the artist, but he's definitely a Slow Burner...

More autobiography to close, from a Southerner - the wonderful Eddie Argos...

Another time I'd overheard you saying you were going into town
And at the time I lived right in between two towns, but I wasn't quite sure which one you meant
So I bought a bus pass, I went to both of them, and frantically looked for you everywhere
And when I finally saw you at WH Smith's, I got scared

1 comment:

  1. Nostalgia, eh????

    WH Smith never really took a grip of High Streets in Scotland, so I never got attached to the brand. It's become one that I utterly detest for its embracing of the rip-off culture where it has the monopoly in bus and train stations, but in particular, airports. The amounts these shops charge for confectionary/soft drinks etc beggars belief.


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