Gone Shopping

The early department stores gave London proof
that shoppers would rather shop under one roof.
Posh Knightsbridge had Harrod's for nabobs and nobs.
The folk down at Clapham had Arding and Hobbs
for antimacassars and buttons and stays
and household equipment designed to amaze
the critical neighbours and thereby fulfil
the dreams of the house-proud of Lavender Hill.

The shell still remains of what served down the years
for floor-walkers, doormen and pince-nez'd cashiers
as South London's Mecca of retail delight.
Now the nameboard says Debenhams, something which might
depress that old pair from a long-vanished age
whose shop-front had blazoned their names centre-stage –
those heroes of retail, now Tippexed-out blobs
in the footnotes of fame, Messrs. Arding and Hobbs.