“They think it’s all over! It is now!”

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When I was 15, my mum found me a job working on Saturdays and during the holidays in a local jeweller’s shop. It was called Stephen Tree’s and located in Tower Bridge Road, more or less opposite Manze’s pie and mash shop (see here). There will be more about this London delicacy in the future. The picture of me removing the large pads (do they have a name?) containing rings and watches from the shop window at closing time, to place in the safe. The shop had existed for many years but had been bought, more as a hobby than anything else, I think, by a retired diplomat called Mr. Liesching ( a very unusual name). He was an upper-class, elderly chap whose life had been devoted to administering the Empire. I believe he had spent many years in China. He had that natural air of authority you associate with such people, accustomed as they were to giving orders to their servants and minions all their lives – but not in a condescending way.

The owner sort of took me under his wing as a potential “poor kid makes good.” I worked there until I left school and went to university four years later, the first person in my extended family to do so. That was regarded as a big achievement at the time.

I found this letter from Mr. Liesching to my mother, written after my first stint in the shop. I’m amazed he took the time to write it but he was an old-fashioned “gentleman” in the true English sense of the word.

Working in the shop was interesting because we had a watchmaker and a clockmaker who did repairs. No digital clocks and watches in those days; they were full of cogs, pins and springs and Swiss products reigned supreme. I loved watching the repairmen at work – especially the watchmaker, as it was such delicate work. He used a loupe (thanks Omar), a small cylindrical magnifying glass that fits into the eye socket. He would painstakingly dismantle the watches piece by piece for cleaning, then put them back together again. Fascinating stuff to watch.

The one day that I especially remember was Saturday, 30 July 1966. It was the final of the World Cup at Wembley, and England were in it. I had to work in the shop and so couldn’t watch it on TV. I don’t think anyone came in the shop during the entire match (and it went to extra time!) but I had to make do with listening to it on the radio.

England became world soccer champions for the first time and the Beatles ruled. Shame the Sixties couldn’t have lasted longer…

The title of the post is the famous phrase uttered at the end of the final by BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, which has since passed into folklore. During the War, Wolstenholme was a bomber pilot who flew 100 missions over Germany and won the DFC and bar. Quite an achievement when one considers the casualty rates among air crews.

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7 Responses to “They think it’s all over! It is now!”

  1. Hi Peter:

    “He used one of those magnifying glasses that fit into the eye socket, can’t remember what they are called.”

    I think they call them “eye loupes”.

    http://www.peakoptics.com/index.php/cPath/32?osCsid=be36e030cb462c677374f9d59730e74f

    When will England wrap the FIFA World Championship Cup again?

    Regards,

    Omar.-

  2. thebarrowboy says:

    Not in my lifetime, Omar!

    Thanks for solving the mystery. I looked it up and loupe it is.

  3. Pingback: I updated the post on the jeweller’s shop « The Barrow Boy

  4. Hi Peter.

    I was re-reading your blog today and stumbled into your update.

    You must be very proud of the letter the owner of the shop gave you. It speaks very highly of your performance.

    Cheers,

    Omar.-

  5. thebarrowboy says:

    Hi, Omar.

    More than anything, I was surprised he would even take the time to write such a letter. But he was one of those old-fashioned, upper-class gents (a true gentleman) that you only read about or see in old films. He inspired respect but didn’t demand or expect it.

  6. Alan Worrow says:

    Peter, I had a weekend job around that time, working on a furniture removals van.

    We (whole family) watched the World Cup final in a beach bar in Portugal. We’d had an overnight stop in Cáceres, where we’d seen England beat Portugal in the semi-final, so the Portuguese were all rooting for West Germany. When the final goal went in, we looked round to see them all leaving, some through the windows.

  7. thebarrowboy says:

    Alan: I suppose for Brits the WCF is like the death of John Kennedy, everyone remembers where they were at that moment.

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