Goodbye Crocodile Rock


The suspense has been almost unbearable since those heady days in September when I first saw the sign Crocodile Rock on the shop across the road from where I live in Lewes, East Sussex. Since then it has been a long wait wondering if we were to have, after all this time, our very own Glam Rock venue or, if not that, at least a Glam Rock emporium where we could buy our Marc Bolan wigs, glittery platform heel boots and all the other essential pieces of glam memorabilia.

There was a rumour that we might be getting a crocodile adventure park but that hope died early on.

So imagine my excitement this morning when I saw that wobbly scaffolding sitting outside the shop in the rain.


It was in the golden days of September when the carpenters came in to tart up the shop after it has been sold by its previous owners Messrs Barefoot Herbs – a worthy vegetarian herbalist shop which has now gone on to greater things on Lewes High Street.

My excitement grew all through October when the painter decorators began work on the exterior – clearly these Glam Rock people take appearances seriously.

I have been feeling nostalgic for the good old days when there was actually a shop across the road so I dug out this photograph of Mr. Barefoot cleaning his windows in those soulful days just before moving out. I remember him well sitting barefoot in the doorway playing his didgeridoo. Music so far removed from the pulsating beats of T-Rex.


A year ago and our street was just like any other nice Georgian terrace complete with its herbalist shop and convenience store, Ron’s.

Now that Ron has been taken ill and the shop is up for sale, I have had the gloomy view of two empty premises…a lot of hope but not much action.

Then it all happened…all at once…all my dreams dashed when a new sign was unveiled by two daring carpenters who braved that wobbly wet scaffolding.

Hang on a minute…..Phase…..what does that mean? I have been through many phases in my life, this was merely the next chapter.

Phase Rock…..now that sounds interesting. Is that the word consultants I see just below the word Phase? So we can go there for a consultation when we are going through our Rock phase…interesting. Actually there are several Rock phases in the average male’s life and I am not sure about Rock Chicks but they have a few too. The pre-pubescent male phase is when you want to be like Dad, the adolescent phase is when you want to kill your Dad, the Rock stage is when you learn air guitar and then the Dad rock stage is when you want to rediscover your youth. These Rock Phase consultants are going to be busy.

Then I saw the carpenters bring another another piece of painted wood. Oh no! They began to cover over the word Rock.


Whatever the rest of the sign read, some small writing about a whole lot of boring sounding things, I knew I was not going to like it. Luckily, there was a problem. It didn’t fit. Soon it was being taken down again and the word Rock reappeared.

That’s better said the Traffic Warden who is always on hand to give us helpful advice. A passing stranger, a jolly man also threw in some helpful comments which brought total agreement from the electrician who had just parked on those double yellow lines. What a friendly town Lewes is.

Even Karl, the crow, had an opinion. He usually roosts on the chimney above Crocodile Rock, so he felt as involved as I do. You can tell by his body language that even he could see that the sign wasn’t straight.

Then it was the turn of the owner, well I assume that is who he is. The carpenters showed him the problem and he didn’t look happy. The sign was obviously made by some people called Plankers because that is what I think he shouted out.

So Phase Rock it was going to be. The men left, the rain came down and it looked like we had our new shop front. Karl even went back to his chimney.

It was not to be of course, those clever carpenters had shaved a bit off here and stuck another bit on somewhere else and before I could make coffee, they were back up on that perilous scaffolding.

The very beautiful black Labradoodle, a trendy cross between Labrador and Poodle, who often walks by on the lookout for lampposts, showed a professional interest in the scaffolding. He sniffed it but you will be pleased to know that there was no attempt at leg-cocking. He saved that for the lamppost in front of the police station.

So it was finally goodbye to Crocodile Rock. The sign was secured into its place and even I had to admit that there would be no chance now of any Glam Rock or any other kind of Rock happening over there behind the beautifully decorated shop front in its tasteful inoffensive colours. I have found out now that Crocodile Rock was the name of the business that was there before Barefoot Herbs and it was a guitar shop in the days when my house was owned by a rock star. Those were the days.

Down came the scaffolding – no one was injured – and the owner came out to inspect the work. Is it straight? I think so, it is certainly not rock ‘n roll.


Workmen gone, I could now get a good look at the sign. Phase Consultants. Hmmm…..I still had some hope of at least a psychotherapist who could advice me on the funny phase I am going through at present.

Then those other words became clear. Property, Health and Safety, Environment. Oh.

How very Lewes! I am sure that they are excellent people. They advice businesses, property owners and all comers – anyone interested in property, health and safety and the environment.
That scaffolding must have been safe after all.

Apparently I will be able to go over there and buy health and safety equipment too…..sounds interesting. Harnesses and chains, that sort of thing, I assume…..hmmmm no wonder they have got that window papered up.

No wonder either that the people in the blue house next door have put their house up for sale…let’s hope that the new owners will not be camera shy.

2 Comments

  1. WOW I havn't seen that sign since the Late 80's Thats was a great guitar shop. Brings back some memories I can tell you..

  2. Can you share some of those memories Jonathan? It would be interesting to know about that place.

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