Sammy Fisher Of Old Montague St
Wednesday 1st June : EXHIBITION OPENING of John Claridge’s EAST END photography from 6pm at VOUT-O-RENEES, 30 Prescot St, Aldgate, E1 8BB. (Exhibition runs until 21st July)
Thursday 2nd June : BOOK LAUNCH PARTY for John Claridge’s EAST END from 6pm upstairs at THE FRENCH HOUSE, 49 Dean St, Soho, W1D 5BG.
Friday 3rd June : JOHN CLARIDGE IN CONVERSATION talking about his EAST END photography with Stefan Dickers at 7pm at WATERSTONES PICCADILLY, W1J 9HD. Emailpiccadilly@waterstones.com to reserve your free ticket.
I took an advance copy of John Claridge’s EAST END over to show my pal Paul Gardner, fourth generation proprietor of Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen in Commercial St, and he laughed when he opened the book and saw the first double page spread. Paul recognised the shopkeeper in John Claridge’s photograph as Sammy Fisher, standing in the doorway of his grocer’s shop in Old Montague St in 1961.
“That’s Sammy Fishoff,” Paul declared in fond recognition of an old friend, “He changed his name to Fisher because people teased him, saying ‘Piss off Fishoff!’”
“He used to buy his bags off me for his grocery shop and he was very sharp – if there was only 499 in a pack of 500 he’d spot it like that.
Sammy came to my wedding in 1982 and brought me a ceramic horse and cart. When I knew him, after his wife died, he came in my shop everyday and sat down and gave me advice on how to run the business. I’d give him faulty paper carrier bags and he’d stand in Petticoat Lane and sell them for 5p. He used to say, ‘Just because you buy it as a bargain, doesn’t mean you’ve got to sell it as a bargain.’
I think of Sammy in his red cap and with his trousers hitched up high. I didn’t know if he had any family, but when he died of a hernia in 1985, I went to his funeral and there weren’t many people there, until some relatives turned up from Manchester in a Rolls Royce. He always said, ‘I’ve got money! I’m going to leave you something in my will because you’ve been so good to me’ which was extraordinary because he was such a curmudgeon. In fact, he did leave me some money in his will – but it was less than he owed me!”
Paul Gardner’s recognition left me excited in anticipation of how many others we shall be able to identify in John Claridge’s pictures when his book is published next week.
Click image to enlarge
We are giving away 500 beautiful posters of John Claridge’s photograph of Sammy Fisher’s Grocery Shop from EAST END – you can pick one up free from Paul Gardner at Gardners Market Sundriesmen, 149 Commercial St, E1 and we shall be handing them out at The French House and Waterstones Piccadilly next week.