Saturday, 10 January 2015

Shopping In ROYS With Aunty Gary

We have recently been inundated with mail from our public demanding more insights into Ragged Ramblers cult figure, Aunty Gary. Thus, it was too good an opportunity to miss when I happened upon him earlier today in the Magdalen Street area of Norwich and he mentioned that he was about to go shopping in ROYS store - one of Norfolk's unique institutions. 

Having heard Aunty regale us with tales of the wonders of ROYS on many occasions I felt a tingle of anticipation as we made our way into the store. 

Entering, my nostrils were filled with an overwhelming scent of industrial rubber as we wended our way towards the extensive shoe and slipper section. 

A blur of greys, blues and brown

Gary talked me through the form and function of the slipper range, speaking - as he always does - with almost maniacal authority about 'piping' and other such wonders, before finishing with the following statement:
"Not a natural fibre in sight."

And with that, he was off (and with such verve and velocity that the image above is blurred at the edges!). In what seemed an instant we were in the bread section.

Aunty Gary is a discerning shopper and took his time to scrutinise the bread with the greatest of care. I know you'd like to know what his favourite loaf is, but I'm afraid that I can't tell you that for fear that avid fans will come and buy up all the available white sesame bloomers in a misguided act of homage to dear old Aunty. 

Wandering a little, we paused by a packet of vivid yellow 'Shrewsbury Butter Biscuits' as Aunty Gary began to share some of the paradoxes of his unfathomable mind with me... 
"You see, although I am often able to do quite complicated things, the simple tasks are a mystery to me." He then paused and, looking unusually pensive, continued - "I can't scramble eggs. My mother showed me on many occasions how to do it and yet I could never grasp it..."


"Microwave?" thought I, perplexed at the unexpected interjection of a woman's voice projected - it transpires - from a distant aisle.

Re-orientating myself, I realised that this had been spoken by member of the ROYS staff. In no time at all she was engaged in a step-by-step explanation about how to make scrambled eggs in a microwave. Aunty Gary appeared, ostensibly, to comprehend it, but I suspect the well-intentioned advice was actually wasted on him. I ended the dialogue with the following observation:
"You don't get this kind of service in Tescos that's for sure!" And I meant it. 

Next on the agenda was a search for milk. Aunty strode purposefully in the direction of the dairy section, but upon arrival was at a loss as to its whereabouts. I decided to act and, seeing a young staff member, I decided to approach him and enquire about the location of the cow juice...

"Do you know where the crabs used to be?" began the eager young pup, going onto explain that it had been moved (funnily enough, to where the crabs used to be!). He very generously offered to escort us to it, but Aunty Gary intervened explaining that he was well acquainted with the former layout and would be able to navigate our course. 

With Persil tablets and a pint of milk in hand we made our way to the check-outs and Aunty Gary completed his purchase. At this point you may well be thinking that this fascinating voyage of discovery was at an end - but you'd be wrong! You see, in Aunty Gary's world there are always unexpected delights to discover. Thus, with a semi-conspiratorial air he beckoned me to join him as he began to peruse the store's Free Ads board near the store exit. 

"Aunty, this is comedy gold-dust!" I spluttered as I began to read the ads. 

'Box of Buttons £5'
'Burgandy Disable Scotter..."

'Cosy bus route'?
So there you have it. What an absolute privilege it was to gain such an intimate insight into the world of Aunty Gary. I have to confess that my previous experience of ROYS had left me rather traumatised, having got disorientated and found myself wandering - in a Father Ted-esque manner - in the (older) Ladies Underwear section. However, Aunty has opened my eyes to a whole world of wonder. It is a world that, I believe, historians of the future will be baffled by. To have walked amidst the beige and grey clothing; to have breathed in the industrial rubber of the Shoes section; to have stood and marvelled at the snippets of people's lives revealed through their small ads... this is the wonderful minutiae of a world that will soon pass -  a world trapped in aspic. 


Addendum: I do here resolve that before 2015 has passed we will have a Ragged Ramblers expedition to ROYS of Wroxham, and bring you our 'take' on the mysteries of a town like no other. 

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq. ~


  1. It aint right. It aint right I tell you!

  2. They do lovely big crabs at ROYS - and garden peas

    1. I like there Diddle Dumplings, their at all

  3. Gosh. Aunty Gary's a one isn't he what? Yes. Hmm. Oh. Bugger.

  4. Ooh. I'd love to step out with Aunty Gary some time. He's such a striking lush. Does he do email? I'd like to converse and maybe, well who knows where it may lead.

  5. Bilson James Wattlington Jnr10 January 2015 at 22:45

    Large peas. And toothpaste. Hmm.

  6. I like his neck and always will do

  7. Where is it? You said you'd post something about Roy's of Wroxham and you haven't and you've let me down, you've let your follower down and, most of all, you've let yourself down