Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Was Margaret Thatcher brought up in a grocery?

I wouldn't say so. The Americans would.

I 'd call her father's shop in Grantham a grocer's. He sold grocery. Ye t I saw the Times refer to 'her father's grocery store', which sounds doubly American.

I t's not just Margaret Thatcher. The Daily Mail referred to Prince Harry befriending a woman 'who worked in a grocery store near E ton'.

The Americans have been calling a grocer's a grocery for some time, and a baker's a bakery.

F rances Trollope, the novelist's mother, noticed it in her Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832), and a decade later Dickens wrote of the Americans' 'Bakery', 'Grocery', and 'Bookbindery'.

I was going to say that no one would call a shop a butchery, but I 'm told they do, in the most fashionable parts of London (which I seldom haunt). There is the Butchery Ltd (founded 2011) in Bermondsey, the F lock and Herd Butchery in chic Peckham, and of course Jamie's Barbecoa Butchery near St Paul's. They may butcher carcases in the shops, but slaughter is these days distanced.

There is some convenience in using grocery as the name of a shop, for it is not easy to form the plural of grocer's. …

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