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At Paul Gardner’s Party

January 8, 2020
by the gentle author

Gardners Market Sundriesmen is moving to 78 Ruckholt Rd, Leyton, E10 5NP. Phone 0208 558 1289

“I am sure everyone here tonight will remember this little shop for years to come”

Twelfth Night is a traditional occasion for a party and in Spitalfields we celebrated it at Gardners Market Sundriesmen which moved to Leyton this week after one hundred and fifty years in Commercial St. It is not uncommon for parties to be held when shops open but few shopkeepers enjoy such a party when their shop closes. The volunteers who helped Paul Gardner pack up his shop on Friday returned on Monday night to join with his many friends and loyal customers in showing their appreciation.

Paul climbed onto a wooden crate, proudly wearing his paper hat and Metallica jacket, to make a speech to the assembled throng of well-wishers and old friends who crammed the shop that night.

“When I first came here in 1973, I wore a suit for two days and then I thought to myself ‘I don’t really like this very much,’ but it’s always been so interesting and brilliant being here because I get such a wide range of people in. Half the time, I don’t know if I am Basil Fawlty or Manuel…

It’s so inspiring to be here because I meet so many nice people. You get the odd one, but 99% of the people who come in to my shop are pleasant. They have all been enthusiastic, wanting me to carry on and I hope I have given them some inspiration too. If you have your own small business, it is very hard to survive.

I am a simpleton really yet I have managed to survive through hard work, so far. I am sure everyone here tonight will remember this little shop for years to come and hopefully I will see you all in the future. It’s absolutely great all of you coming here to see me off, but you ain’t seen the end of me yet. I’m not on the highway to hell!

I’d like to thank all the people who have helped me over the years, especially Krissie, Leila … the East End Trades Guild has been an inspiration to me and its getting bigger and stronger all the time … the Gentle Author has done some mind-blowing stories about my shop … and to Jane, my lovely wife, who has stuck by me through thick and thin, working seven days a week clearing everything out.

Cheers then, thanks very much and goodbye!”

At the conclusion of Paul’s speech the crowd sang ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,’ and so say all of us.

Jane Gardner welcomes guests to the party

Paul embraces his fans

Lucinda Douglas Menzies arrives in a magnificent hat

Paul with his son Robert

Paul and the curator of the Operating Theatre Museum

Fiona, the Spitalfields dog walker, and friend

Jane Gardner with Stanley Rondeau, the Huguenot

Paul Gardner with ‘Pickles’ a market stalwart

Paul and Samson Soboye

Paul’s breaks into an improvised song with harmonica accompaniment

‘I am a simpleton really yet I have managed to survive through hard work, so far’

Paul holds up his card made by Jill Wilson incorporating Eleanor Crow’s painting

Jane and Paul Gardner

The Paul Gardner doll in the pocket of Paul’s overcoat

Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie

You may like to read my other stories about Gardners Market Sundriesmen

At Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen

Packing Up Gardners Market Sundriesmen

150 Years in Commercial St

Paul Gardner, Paper Bag Baron

Paul Gardner Goes To Downing St

Paul Gardner Returns to Downing St

Joan Rose at Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen

James Brown at Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen

Vigil at Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen

Christmas at Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Ron Wilkinson permalink
    January 8, 2020

    Any dude into metal music and speedway racing is OK in my opinion.

  2. Susan permalink
    January 8, 2020

    I see that The Guardian did a photo shoot about the closing of the shop. I am so glad that you, GA, have written about Gardner’s so often. I visited from Vancouver, Canada in June, 2018 -it was a lovely experience. Perhaps someday I will show up at the new address. (I may need to win the lottery to do that…)

  3. Jill Wilson permalink
    January 8, 2020

    A lovely send off for a lovely chap!

  4. Annie S permalink
    January 8, 2020

    A great send off to new pastures.
    Please do a visit to Paul’s new home after he has settled in.

  5. Linda Granfield permalink
    January 8, 2020

    Happy and poignant photos of a sad time for small businesses.

    All best wishes to Paul and Jane. Quel chapeau!

  6. Eric Forward permalink
    January 8, 2020

    As sad as it is to see it close, 150 years is an incredible achievement and I’m so glad it ends with a party & celebration.

  7. Lucy permalink
    January 8, 2020

    Really sorry not to have been there on Monday – and wonder what song Paul spontaneously sang.

  8. Peta permalink
    January 8, 2020

    I have enjoyed my visits to your shop over the years.
    I don’t think you are a simpleton – just a very kind, generous and entertaining person.
    I hope to visit you at your new shop. Sorry I missed your speech Monday.
    Best wishes Peta B.

  9. January 8, 2020

    Sad to see Gardeners go from it’s home under The Cloisters which it had quietly inhabited from incredibly only 6 years after that was built! No market for him to continue I suppose. Wishing Paul the very best of luck in his new home whilst dreading what may now be taking his wonderful establishment’s place…

  10. Wendy permalink
    January 8, 2020

    Would loved to have been able to help out, but we’re abroad atm. Good luck in your new premises Paul. We’ll be coming over when we’re back. GA – fabulous write up of what looks like a tremendous party.

  11. January 10, 2020

    “Bloom where you are planted”, Paul. I know you will enrich any community that you are
    part of. GA, please keep us posted.

    Congrats, and onward and upward!

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