Haporth of this and a pennorth of that, we used to say - and a haporth of salt and a pennorth of pepper.
You'd take a plate and go and get some liver there - you'd take a dinner plate as a matter of fact . . it'd be full for twopence.
Winter mornings, in the winter, in the snow - didn't matter what the weather was, we used to have to go down to the butchers, one of us did, whichever one was the oldest one at home, and get some meat - if we wanted a little liver, and that used to be about two pennyworth of liver and three pennyworth of fat pork - and that was very fat pork and - we used to have to go down at seven o'clock in the morning and wait, the butcher made us wait until he'd cut his orders off, and see if there was any to spare, and that was two or three times a week.
They used to know their customers and know what they could afford, and they used to let them have it very cheap - say if you wanted to make a suet pudding in those days, you went up to the shop and got pieces of beef and cuttings what they left off . . all lovely beef, the best you could get - used to have three pennorth of beef and a pennorth of suet, and you got a lovely dinner for about five or six people.
That's how these poor people used to live, that couldn't really afford a joint, they used to go to the shop, and have all these little different odds and ends - sheep's heads, and pluck - buy a whole sheep's head and pluck for two bob . . We used to take a load of meat Saturday afternoon, clear the shop as you might say, because we'd got no refrigerators or anything in those days . . start from Witham and go up to the Victoria and serve all those people up there . . they just come to the cart and he used to say 'How much do you want?' - slide a piece off - sixpence or a shilling - and we used to come back all round Terling and Fairstead and all the various places.
Although it was a good class shop, it was surprising - you used to get the old gypsy type of people when they were moving around, yes - but they were useful really - cause - I don't know whether you know anything about a shop, but there's always odd pieces, isn't there, and scraps you couldn't sell to ordinary people - well they used to come in and buy it cheap - you see - that suited them and it suited us . . They used to come for the pea picking all round, and fruit picking.
And the gyppoes used to come in - I must tell you - one old lady she used to come into the shop and 'Please would you write a letter for me?' - yes - and I said 'Well, wait till I haven't got a customer', you see, and I used to write her letters - 'Dear so and so', and 'We are all well and hope you're well', and that was about the lot. Yes, she was very grateful, you know, very grateful . . She was an old peapicker.
He always used to say - 'Never turn them away without a loaf of bread', he said 'because you prosper' - and I agree - I think if you do kindness you get it back, you get it returned.
Debts were terrible - well, people were so poor, weren't they? . . You'd have a book, and put it down, and you'd say 'Well - could you pay a little off the back?', and they'd pay a little - but they were the people that you least expected . . Could you - now, could you let them go without a loaf of bread when they'd got little children? The debts had to die - there was no getting it back - it would cost you more to get it back, wouldn't it.
My people were always very honest - they wouldn't have anything unless they paid - we always used to laugh - they used to shop down the corner - Freddie Hasler's, and if what we bought came to over - so we owed him a halfpenny, none of us wouldn't go in the shop till we'd got the halfpenny to pay - My mother used to say she'd never be able to get into debt cause we wouldn't let her - we wouldn't go in the shop!
One old girl used to come along and pinch it if she had half a chance . . that used to be on display - shop front was open - I remember one Saturday night she lifted a nice big joint - father had to chase her up the road.
And then there was the - we used to call it the pence lady, used to come from the Church - we used to have the tickets in the shop. They used to say 'My Charlie's ill', and they'd have a ticket - ticket for meat . . ticket for milk - they were helped . . Then they came to pay the shop from the parish.
Then of course there was Sammy Page the second hand . . you went up steps - it stood back a bit, and he sold all second hand stuff there at so much a week . . it wasn't a pawn shop, but he - I think he did an awfully good trade - and he was a very genuine man . . Some of them used to be antiques, but of course he had a lot of old second hand clothes and things like that.
Well, mother as a Co-operator, and she used to get nearly all her stuff down there - course that was only a little place then - oh, she was a strict Co-operator.
Of course, we never had anything to do with the Co-op, us private traders . . no - I don't know - because holiday times there'd be one out of the one shop go over to the other one and say 'Are you doing so and so? What time are you closing?' But they never asked the Co-op - no - funny - that was quite on its own.