Woolworths, Britain's 1960s theme shop, went out of business today, as accountants switched off its TARDIS. The time machine had kept the chain of stores permanently stuck in 1965, but now it was time for its staff to face up to life in 2008.
Shopper Agnes Dickens said: 'Even in 1965 I was embarrassed to shop at Woolies, but where else could I buy a Dave Clark Five single, a pair of pink socks, plain brown sticky wrapping paper, and a bag of pick'n'mix sweets all at the same time?'
But the accountants had a simpler explanation for the store's closure - that there can't be a Briton under the age of 80 who didn't help themselves to the sweets as a kid, when the serving staff weren't looking.
City analyst Minnie Cooper said: 'It was like something out of a Hovis advert every day - millions of pasty-faced schoolchildren hanging round the stores at lunchtime across Britain, before legging it at the last minute with a handful of liquorice allsorts and chocolate coins in cheap gold paper in their hands. For lots of those children it was all the nutrition they got - eee, it were toof in them days, tha' knaws.'
And as a brass band began to play in t'background, a small orphan boy said: 'Please, sir, can I have more fluorescent green jelly snakes with poisonous colouring in them?', but all he got was a clip round the earhole from the harrassed sales assistant, and the shout of 'Ah knaws where tha' lives, 'Arold Braithwaite! Yer dad will 'ear about this when he gets 'ome from his 19-hour shift at pit!'
Rumours that the TARDIS had mistakenly been permanently stuck in 1965 have often be denied, most recently by Managing Director Ebenezeer Goode, who said: 'If people wanted to buy a cheap biscuit tin with flaking paint in the hinges, or plugs that always looked second-hand, they knew where to go. Now they'll have to go to their local Poundstealer instead, run by our Asian friends. These plastic toy ducks are going cheap - hahahaha!'
Although Woolworths was an American company, it somehow became more British than British, a correct representation of the glorious shambles that the UK is, where everything runs late and nobody even notices - and where a large shop can sell hosepipes and garden shears right next to sweets and souvenirs of Balmoral. And writing paper and cat food and shoelaces - and just about anything you wouldn't expect to be lumped together in the same department.
Not even Harrod's owner Mohammed Al-Fayed, who claims that his shop will sell you anything you ask for, could match Woolies for variety - such as plastic children's shoes made in 1971 and dayglo frisbees from Korea, and probably even copies of Middle Of The Road's 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep'.
But in a postscript Woolworths today did a record amount of business, and if they can do that now why can't they do it all the time? And the hints of closure turned out not to be true - yet, so maybe the management of the company aren't as dumb as they look. Anyone want to buy this copy of 'Shoot!' annual from 1974?
[Rumours of Woolworth's death may have been greatly exaggerated, and there was a suspiciously long queue of BBC journalists at a Shepherd's Bush stockbrokers in London today.]