God and ASDA

Stories and thoughts: past, present and future

Locked Inside Woolies

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When I was in the W.R.A.F. in the early 1960s, one of the places to which I was posted was R.A.F Mount Batten, Plymouth in Devon.

My Dad was delighted when he learned that I would be stationed in the same city where he served as a Fire-fighter during the blitz on the city in March 1941. During my stay in Plymouth, Mum and Dad came to visit on one occasion and my Dad was visibly moved to be there again almost twenty years after his heroic wartime action . He sat on Plymouth Hoe looking out to sea and I knew that I must just let him sit there and remember. But my time in Plymouth was much happier than Dad’s.

Now that I’m living in Devon again, my husband and I visited the city quite recently. Before we left home, I planned to show him all the things I remembered from my time there. I knew that the city had changed quite a bit but I also knew that the two main shopping streets were almost as they were.

I was telling him about the times we used to go into “town”, meet up in the mezzanine cafeteria at Woolworths (or Woolies, as it was affectionately known), and have a really good time for the price of a cup of tea (about 1p in today‘s money!). We’d look over the balcony, calling to our friends or maybe even calling to lads who weren’t (yet) our friends!! (Some things never change!). It was a good time to be in Plymouth. The city was beginning to grown again and the horrors of the war were beginning to fade.

So you can imagine my surprise when, on arriving outside Woolworths we discovered that it had closed its doors for the last time in January 2009. Since that day, the building has been left empty, shuttered up and left to decay.

Plymouth Woolies

As I looked at that well-known façade I noticed that a bird was nesting in one of the letters of the name. At least he’d found a use for it!


I felt extremely sad. All my memories of those wonderful Saturdays gone forever. Or, are they? Those doors that were shut have enclosed every single one of my precious memories and, as my fertile imagination works overtime, I can still hear the laughter, music, chatter and hustle and bustle of those days. They’ll never go away, they’re locked inside until someone opens those doors again. What a cacophony that will be!

But thinking about Plymouth itself, how it was damaged almost beyond any hope of regaining it’s former glory, reminded me that Jesus was beaten, spat upon, whipped and crucified – practically damaged beyond all hope. But He rose again, as He said He would, and we can know that Resurrection joy if we follow Him.

    Jesus said (to her), “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Do you believe this?

    (John 11 verses 25,26)

Whatever your situation, no matter what you’ve done or how broken-hearted you may feel, turn to God and He will restore you.

In Psalm 51 verses 10 – 12, when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, David wrote:

    “10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
    12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

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