Rose Rouse rocks around Harlesden with Danny the newsagent
- Credit: Archant
Writer Rose Rouse is on an adventure – not in Cuba, Bali or the Outer Hebrides but in Harlesden where she lives. Every month, she walks and talks with friends, neighbours around busy NW10 and meets people you may have heard of living on your doorstep. This week, she walks her newsagent, Danny.
I’m following Dar, or Danny, into his backroom. He’s my local newsagent. And it’s full to the rafters with boxing gloves in red and blue, punch bags, shin guards, footballs with stars on them, shorts and tops.
Yes, in true Harlesden style, this is a newsagent that sells boxing gloves.
Another wonderful collision/mash up.
Not only that, but they are all hand-sewn in Danny’s family factory in Sialkot, Pakistan. As for the name, Danny; in the ’70s, an Irish friend started calling him Danny and it stuck. His legal first name, confusingly, is Amjad. And the family name is Dar.
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Danny is such a sweet man. And he runs a shop called Sweetland. It’s a shabby shop, but it’s their hearts that you notice. Danny didn’t go into the family business. At 19, he came to Harlesden, moved into a flat on the High Street – now above a halal butcher’s – and became a forklift truck operator at McVities.
“I was a bit different,” he explains as we walk down Park Parade, “and it was easy to get work here.” That was 1970 and he was very happy with Harlesden. He’d go to the Royal Oak to hear an Irish band on Saturday nights.
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This is a man who literally never leaves his shop – from 6am to 8pm. Danny is small, wears a woolly hat and lots of layers. He’s 64 now, and walking is difficult for him. He’s lost a couple of teeth and his face often crumples into an expression of unending kindness.
Oh, and Danny refers to himself as “one of the originals”. I love this idea. What he means is that he and Johnny – who runs the hairdressers and tanning shop, Paraskevas, have been on Park Parade, the longest. “People come and go these days,” he says. But Johnny, whose family are from Cyprus, and Danny, are both stayers. Danny has been here in Harlesden for 44 years. A miracle.
To walk with Danny is to enter into another era. His version of Harlesden is set in the ’70s and ’80s. He used to do a double work shift, first at McVities, and then running a newsagents called Midnight further down Park Parade, opposite the Royal Oak. Hence his frequent visits.
He’s also frequented most of the local religious establishments over the years. He’s a Muslim, but his wife, Lucy, is a Roman Catholic, from the Philippines.
For the World Cup in Brazil, Danny has ordered lots of footballs with different flags on them. “We’re getting them to give to the community schools around here,” he says. “And all the local businesses are going to have them too.”
This is the 43rd walk in Not On Safari In Harlesden.
You can see the longer version of this article at roserouse.wordpress.com.