Cornershop Heroes #2: The Window Cleaner

Every cornershop relies on a network of corner-shaped professionals. In this thrilling new mini-series we meet some of the behind-the-scenes men and women that keep the indie retail world going.

The window of a shop is its public face, and as such it is quite the most important part of an establishment’s structure. If a shop’s window is shit, then people simply won’t come in. Of course it’s up to the shopkeeper to fill it with enticing morsels and artistic displays, but the window itself also needs to be clean.

Now we have heard that some very hard working shopkeepers clean their own windows. We are full of admiration for this, as it is indeed a task fraught with complications: smears, water in the armpit, falling off the ladder, chaffed hands, wet everything…not to mention the irrational-but-persistent feeling that an awful lot of people are laughing at you as you jiggle up and down.

We tried to do it ourselves. The first time Mrs.Shopkeeper was up a ladder covered in suds someone came along and asked if they could buy the ladder (#youcouldn’tmakeitup). The second occasion, just a week after the shop opened, it was a blastingly cold December day and her knuckles were bleeding from the combination of wet and icy. Just when she was about to burst into tears and admit window-cleaning defeat, a little voice behind her said: “Looks like you need a window-cleaner…”

Mark Mason has been our window-cleaner ever since. We regard him as one of our sounder petty cash investments: a fiver a fortnight is hardly going to give the accountant palpitations. Mark is relentlessly cheerful, whatever the weather, and seems sublimely happy in his job. We asked him why, and he said he genuinely loves being out and about meeting people all day. He has been doing the job for over 20 years, and took over from his father: altogether they have had their Peckham round for around 60 years.

Seems the only thing that pains him about his work is the increasing homogenisation of the high streets. Corporate is as bad news for independent cornershop heroes as it is for the cornershops themsleves. Oh and yes: we did ask him if he had any, er, confessions (window cleaner? geddit? okay – you’re probably too young): sadly he didn’t.

We shouldn’t really share all our trade secrets with you, but if you live in or near SE15 and are fed up with wet armpits, give Mark a ring on 07932 085932 and he or one of his little helpers will zoom round with their super squeegees to help you out.

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