Crouch End lost a little bit of its soul today. Paul Saxton packed up his news stall for the very last time, For forty-two years, he's looked out on the Broadway from his vantage point just by Crouch End's Clock Tower. His father and grandfather kept the stall before him.
Paul is the last in line. I asked him what would happen to his stall. 'It'll just stay here', he said, '... until the council take it away.'
I hope he felt the love. Well-wishers congregated around ... there were presents, cards, a few bottles ... and his loyal customers had clubbed together to get Paul a suitable retirement send-off. On top of that, he had another memorable gift from a well-wisher - a wonderfully crafted model of his news stand.
By the time I arrived, the very splendid cake to celebrate Paul's long years of service to Crouch End had already been partly consumed.
Paul found the occasion a touch overwhelming. And W.H. Smith's made its own special contribution to the occasion - by ending its supply of papers a day early, I'm not kidding. On his last day, he was left high and dry with not a single paper to sell!
But the fondness of the farewell papered over that particular corporate misdemeanour.
Paul and his wife - she's from Yorkshire - are moving to near Doncaster. How will he ever get used to lying in bed past quarter-past-three in the morning!
Wishing you well, Paul!
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