JOY, 9, Nelson Rd

Number 9, Nelson Road, houses JOY – a delightful, fun fashion shop purveying frothy clubwear, brightly-coloured junk jewellery, clever party jokes and general kitsch.

I adore this shop because it not only has fun stuff to buy as presents for ‘difficult’ people, plays obscure 1950s Rockabilly and stocks gorgeous 1940s-style peep-toe platforms to die for, but it is the most curious of stores architecturally too.

For a long while I used to be totally baffled as to what this was before its present incarnation. It’s part of the delightful Regency parade surrounding the Market place, and, like its immediate neighbours, has a fabulously curlicued wrought iron number plate and a grand little series of wrought-iron balconies on the first floor. If it’s a warm day the window to the balcony will be open and you can peer through gossamer-light bead curtains onto the street below. The shop has wisely retained two stunning carved and polished wood fireplaces, and, oddest of all, the room at the back of the first floor, now used as a dressing room area.

Was this an early bathroom, I used to ponder. It has a mosaic-tiled floor, tiles around the walls and a delicate stained glass window. Frankly, it’s worth trying something on just to take a peek.

My agony was finally eased on Saturday when I discovered that this was a late Victorian GAS SHOWROOM, of all things. Basically, gas was such a trendy – and expensive – commodity in the late 19th century that it was worth having exquisite showrooms to sell it with, which accounts for the number of gas jet holes all over the place – not that I’d have put two and two together. I gather that gas was rather nouveau-riche as a concept – perhaps the equivalent of – oh – I don’t know – hot tubs now, but at least the showroom was stunning. Go check it out.

In the same parade is a florist, which seems to sadly foretell of the impending social fall of Greenwich. Let me explain. My great friend Tim has a theory that places on the social up-and-up NEVER have florists that actually display flowers in the window. It’s all designer-led squirly sticks, miniature galvanised buckets containing dyed moss and Japanese twigs. This shop used to be much the same. Recently, however, it has branched out and has actually started to sell a few blooms too. Trendy fashionable blooms, of course – no fuchsias here, mate – but blooms all the same. It too, is a lovely shop architecturally, (though to me it always somehow looks closed despite the displays outside) and one of these days I will actually dress up posh and make it inside…

Joy is one of The Phantom’s Favourite Haunts.

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