They were the kind of old-fashioned menswear shop that doesn’t seem to exist nowadays. For those familiar with the sitcom “Are You Being Served?” it was very like Grace Brothers Men’s department.

They carried on their business from a little shop on a corner in St Peter’s Street and they had a definite air of superiority about them. For some reason they  had been selected to be the sole suppliers of boy’s school uniform for Francis Bacon and their prices reflected that and then some.

After I was given a place at the school I duly went along with my mother to be outfitted with everything I would need to be the perfectly dressed little schoolboy. The male assistant was snotty condescending superiority personified. My mother was trying to appear a middle-class mother which impressed the salesman not one little bit. I’m sure we would both have cheerfully told the odious little man where to shove his overpriced blazers but of course we had no choice but to put up with it.

Looking back I feel even more outraged that a shop worker with delusions of grandeur would treat myself and my mother the way he did and personally diminished that I stood there and tolerated it.

I gather that Charles Mares originally started in Luton and then opened an additional shop in St Albans. They went out of business years back, not sure when, and feel it was karma. I wonder if they did much business other than the school uniforms as there never seemed to be customers in their shop and all their clothes seemed hopelessly staid and old-fashioned. However, with their sole supplier status, the uniforms must have been a nice little earner but I feel anger that they abused their position, for some families outfitting their children must have been a huge financial burden.