Mr Patel and his family have been delivering our morning newspapers for fifteen years or more. They have an old style corner shop on Dartmouth Park Hill - at the junction of Bickerton Road, in what oldtimers would probably call Upper Holloway. It's got papers, ciggies, sweets, a bare smattering of groceries and, that signifier of the struggling local store, top shelf porn.
Mr Patel has handed over his paper deliveries to another provider. He tells me that in a few weeks the shop will undergo renovation. I am not clear how extensive that will be, or indeed whether the Patels will remain in charge. But clearly it's a landmark in the history of a local landmark.
The shop has been stubbornly resistant to change - it hasn't altered in any appreciable degree since I first came to know the place in the nineties. Mr Patel and his family are often watching the TV or chatting in Gujarati in a small room just beyond the shop counter, and come out to serve as they hear the door open. It's that sort of business.
A few years ago, as I recall, a modern signboard or hoarding was removed to reveal a much older sign. 'Crick's Corner'. It's still there. I've no idea whether it will outlast the renovation, but I guess it's odds against.
I took a photo of the old sign today - graced, in the bright morning sun, by the slightly menacing shadow of a street lamp. There are much better shots of the sign to be found online. I have often wondered about how Crick's Corner - not that I have heard anyone use the term in conversation - came by its name. Thanks to Sebastien Ardouin and his excellent website, I now know.
Albert Crick ran a bookshop and lending library, flourishing in the 1920s and probably stretching back quite a bit earlier. He seems to have had two sites - here on Dartmouth Park Hill, and a short distance away on Swains Lane.
By 1937, he was selling off his ex-library stock. The corner lending library, such a huge part of popular access to literature, couldn't compete with the rise of the cheap paperback. It seems that Crick's Corner came to an end - in its original manifestation - one side or other of the Second World War. Just the old painted sign survives. And if you want to see and savour this lingering vestige of an older London, don't hang around!
LATER: my old friend and collegue Bob Trevor, who grew up in these parts, got in touch to say: Another landmark of my life gone. Mr Crick used to cash cheques for my father, deliver newspapers and the "Boy's Own Paper" for me. His son and daughter-in-law lived next door to us in No 79. My mother and Mrs Crick jnr were great pals. In those days there was a parade of shops stretching from Chester Road to Raydon St. Happy memories.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!