John Gibson: He’ll still be selling the jerseys

Alistair Mitchel. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Alistair Mitchel. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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He’s sold the jerseys. The shutters are going up in the Royal Mile. Again. This time at 156 Canongate, across the road from the kirk.

Like the kirk itself, the shop has a certain history. Ali Mitchell has been a survivor there. For close on two decades. A feat in itself because it has relied in the main on the student fraternity and the tourist scene.

Says Ali, 52, whose brother Stewart is a professional musician whose talents have been associated with Rosslyn Chapel: “I call the shop Fantastic Scotland and I’m retaining the name. Our products again will be T-shirts and sweatshirts. Everything we sold at the shop was our own design, printed or embroidered onto the Scottish-produced cloth. And we’ll still cater for clubs and companies on the corporate scene.

“Sorry to be departing the Canongate? To a degree, yes, but it’s not the place it was. And the shops I knew at the start here have gone. It’s sad in a way.”

My old kit bag

Did it catch your eye? What survived the scourge of the trams-infested Shandwick Place was the recruiting centre, the place to go for recycled old kit bags and info about our big three services.

The shop is still there and the Ministry of Defence must be glad because their drive for recruits is more drastic than ever. Patriotic (I papered the scullery with Kitchener’s Your Country Needs You posters) I’d join up myself. I’ve held on to the light blue wartime issue greatcoat but climbing into the cockpit of a Tornado would see it disintegrate, the moths having long gorged on it.

Stop faffing about, John. Past it’s the word. They wouldn’t want you in Dad’s Airforce.