H. A. P. Munday's
H. A. P. Munday's was a newsagents store at 54 Bohemia Road that traded from that location for 102 years. Terry Foord managed the shop for the last thirty five years. He worked in the shop with his grandad for seventeen years before that, so when he retired on the thirtieth March 2013 he had reached the grand total of fifty-two years in business.
Through the years the changes to Bohemia Road have been many and varied. When Terry started work his grandad excelled at enterprising ideas for making money. He built his own radios, one of the first to do this. First, the earliest, crystal sets with cats’ whiskers: then two-valve radios which he sold in mahogany casings, which he also built. During the nineteen twenties and thirties radios needed separate copper-wound coils depending if you wanted to listen to the Home Service or the Light Programme. The coils were wound by hand by Terry’s mum and uncle.
Terry’s grandad also made sweets. Behind the shop is a garage, which used to be the stables, and there he set up a steel boiling table. He continued sweet making until the late nineteen twenties.
He sold ice cream, home-made of course, which came in a glass cornet, similar to a shallow-bowled wine glass. You ate the ice cream in the shop and gave the glass cornet back when you’d finished.
At Christmas time came cigars and novelty items for presents. Terry continued this enterprising trend with Easter eggs. He placed inexpensive tea sets, bought at the Cash & Carry, inside the eggs and then wrapped them all up in cellophane. No problem if the Easter egg went to a man: substitute the tea set for an ashtray filled with chocolates.
Tobacco of many different strengths and flavours came in tins to be mixed in the shop to suit the customer’s needs. This applied to pipes and cigarettes. Strips of tobacco, rubbed fine using the heels of the palms, and then mixed and weighed, ensured a smoke just the way the customer wanted.
Snuff too came in tins: SP No1 and SP No Menthol.
“A snuff taker was always easy to spot because of their brown nose and, if they had one, their brown moustache.”
Commercial cigarettes used to be sold loose: delivered in fives in little paper sleeves, customers then chose how many they wanted.
“The customer is always right, even when they change their mind.”
Terry learnt this lesson the hard way when he worked with his grandad. A regular customer, a lady, came in every day for her cigarettes. One day, she said no, she didn’t want them.
“Started smoking a pipe?” quipped Terry. At which the lady had an almighty ‘wobbly.’
“Think before you speak.” Terry concedes. “It’s safer to be diplomatic.”
Customers also confide in him. “I’ve heard so many secrets over the years and I’ve never let on. I’m easy to talk to and people trust me.”
The shop’s main business has been newspapers. Terry used to be up at four a.m and in the shop by ten to five, six days a week. One hour later on Sundays.
The fortunes of newspapers have waxed and waned, and though the means of distribution has remained more or less unchanged, the managing of them has seen many innovations. From a straight-forward board with hand-written names and addresses, to the Moonstrip or Huggler that used strips of cards with the customer’s details, to ledgers, to a variety of computer programs, it still requires detailed work that takes time.
The boys with paper rounds carried exercise books detailing the customer’s name, address and required paper. Care needed to be taken when a customer went away on holiday, for the appropriate book with that customer’s entry for that particular time needed to be scored out so that papers didn’t build up on the doorstep advertising an empty house.
Paper rounds are still one of the few jobs that are able to employ young teenagers.
“I used to do a round in the Buchanan Hospital every day.”
Terry loaded up a trolley with papers, sweets and cigarettes and pushed it round the wards.
“I was there when my wife gave birth to our daughter. I saw her being born and then carried on with the round.”
Papers didn’t used to appear on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day or Good Friday. This gave Terry the opportunity to enjoy the Bank Holidays along with everyone else.
Then, in the mid-nineteen nineties, along came the Today newspaper and changed all that. They printed every day except Christmas Day and, because competition between the printing barons has always been fierce, all the other papers followed suit. Although Today no longer exists, the other papers didn’t return to the old ways, so Christmas Day became the only Bank Holiday left for Terry to enjoy.
Once, The Mirror sold best, now The Daily Mail is the most popular, followed by The Sun and The Mirror. For the broadsheets The Telegraph sits on the top spot. It used to be The Times, but when they reduced the paper to tabloid size, sales dropped.
“We used to sell just one copy of the Financial Times, to an accountant.”
The Mail on Sunday is the best seller at weekends. The Sun on Sunday didn’t take up the sales after the News of the World folded.
“The Independent sold about two copies. I prefer the I-Daily at twenty pence. That’s what I call ABC – accurate, brief and concise.”
Which paper does Terry favour? “I don’t really read newspapers. I used to scan the headlines as I did the papers up. I suppose if I read any paper at all it’s the Daily Mail.”
During the nineteen seventies and eighties Terry employed up to three people to work alongside him. Shirley Goring holds the honour of being the longest serving member of staff: she has worked at Mundays for forty five years.
Janie Smith served behind the counter for twelve years. She helped police catch a mugger who threatened her in the shop with a knife. The young man aroused her suspicions when he came in, and she took detailed notes about his appearance, in particular the bandage wrapped around his hand.— Bohemia Village Voice