Back in the 1990s I worked for H. Samuel and for three years of that time I was based in the store (no longer within the group) that was positioned at the Piccadilly Circus end of Shaftesbury Avenue. It was the flagship store of the chain at the time, with the famous semi-circle window up in what was our ring sizing and buffering room and being right under the neon lights. It also of course was right in the heart of things.
Right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the City of Westminster. Shops, Government and Theatre land were all walkable. Although our branch didn't shut until 10pm we ofter got a last minute rush of customers after the theatres got out.
Further along Shaftesbury Avenue during that time a musical version of Prisioner Cell Block H was having a run. A very well dressed man in a suit entered early one afternoon and went straight over to the costume jewellery cabinet. When he say what he wanted there was a familiar Birkenhead accent that called over to me:
"Excuse me! I'd like to take that red necklace and earings to match please."
It was not the most expensive sale I ever processed in that store, that would undoubtledly be the three times I sold the matching his and hers Raymond Weil Parsifal watches which at the time were a neat £2,750. But this was the time I took the credit card of Mr P O'Grady knowing full well that these items although going to be worn by someone else were going to grace his neck and ears. He had obviously dropped in before heading up the Queen's Theatre (now the Sondheim) to get Lily ready or her staring role in Prisoner Cell Block H.
RIP Paul O'Grady 1955 -2023
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