Thursday 14 December 2017

Arnotts not merely a retail store, it's a tradition and a way of life for us

The department store has been important to people from all backgrounds over many years, writes Lucinda O'Sullivan

British TV sitcom Are you being served? ran from 1972 to 1985 and was set in the fictional department store of Grace Brothers. It featured the ultra camp John Inman as Mr Humphries, Mollie Sugden as Mrs Slocombe, head of the ladies department, known for her blue bouffant hairdo and her cat which she always referred to naughtily as her pussy, and her cheeky blonde Cockney assistant Miss Brahms, played by the late Wendy Richard.

Captain Peacock was the haughty floorwalker while Young Mr Grace was the ancient, very rich, mean and lecherous owner. It parodied life in an old-style department store and was said to have been inspired by time spent by one of the writers, Jeremy Lloyd, working in the posh Simpsons of Piccadilly.

While it was hilarious and exaggerated, it is hard to believe nowadays that it represented an era when everybody called colleagues by their full title -- 'Ms So-and-So' or 'Mr Dingbat'. One would never have dreamt of being over familiar and addressing each other by their first name.

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