Nothing unusual in itself, but I'm taking this one personally.
All my life this little retail space at the bottom of Cleeve Hill has been an off-licence. My dad used to come in here to buy his cans of Hoffmeister and packs of Marlborough. Sometimes I would go with him and wait obediently and patiently while he chatted with the ever-jovial proprietor about the football results, hoping that he might feel inclined to buy me a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar or maybe some Opal Fruits from the enticing selection of snacks on display at the counter.
Years later, having moved back into the area, I began frequenting the shop myself, to buy my bottles of Budweiser , Drum tobacco and Rizlas. Occasionally my children would accompany me and, if they were well-behaved, I might feel inclined to buy them a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar or even a packet of Starburst. But I never had any idea who the proprietor was. The counter was now a plexi-glassed fortress with a little opening where cash would be furtively exchanged with an ever-changing staff of young student-types who always seemed vaguely annoyed at my presence. Perhaps because I had disturbed them in the middle of some urgent text-messaging.
And you wonder why I keep going on about the past.
The atmosphere, lay-out and even the brand names might have changed, but there's one thing that's always stayed the same about that shop: the smell. I think it must be something to do with the wood. The shop has dark wooden walls and floors, and they secrete a particular warm, woody odour that is, in my experience, entirely unique to this shop. I've never smelt it anywhere else in the world. It's a lovely, comforting smell. Whenever I smell it I connect with a little 8-year-old kid, holding his dad's hand, happily biting into a Cadbury's Fruit & Nut bar. I hate the idea that, for the time being at least, I am denied access to that smell and the sensations it inspires.