When I was a kid I spent as much time as I could (pocket money permitting) in the arcades and shops of central London.
There were a select few arcades where the latest machines were installed and where, for what seemed a kings ransom, we could put our grubby hands on the latest cutting edge technology. Such venerable names as iRobot, Gauntlet, Joust, Defender and StarWars come to immediate mind.
The best arcades were in Soho, and if you know anything about London you will know that Soho has been long associated with other forms of more adult distractions. It always made for an exciting trip. Will we see something today, will one of the ladies speak to us (more to have fun winding us up than any real hope of some business).
When the arcade had devoured all my cash (I was never that great at gaming and the machines ate the money of people like me faster than a labrador at dinner time) and I still had time to kill, Totenham court road was always on the list of destinations. TCR was the mecca of high technology in the UK. It was our answer to Akihaba in Japan. All the shops sold electronics – more HiFi than computers at the time but there were a few, all supposedly competing against each other, so – if you played the game and learned their names, great deals could be had by going too and fro playing one shop off against the other. Not that this mattered much to us, we were impoverished kids and the things they sold may as well have been made from gold.
Just around the corner in New Oxford street, opposite the enormous Centre Point tower, was the other store that had nose prints along it’s windows at the height of most teenagers. Morgan Computers was the dealer of rare and magical things of nerd desire – real computers.
With names like Apricot XEN, Apple, Fujitsu and many others, their windows were filled with surplus stocks of slightly out of date devices at almost obtainable prices. We would stand an pour over the price lists attached to the window and gaze longingly at these amazing machines in the window that were so close we could almost reach out and touch them. Objet D’art
Like millions of others, I now travel into London every day to work and it has lost some of the excitement but sometimes I like to visit the smoke on days off when my significant other is otherwise occupied.
A couple of weeks ago was one of those occasions, I had the desire to visit the London Aquarium on the south bank, I went and it wasn’t the nicest of visits – to many people and noise for me. After the Aquarium I took a walk, from the Southbank, through back streets to Oxford street then down to new Oxford street and on to the British Museum and I found myself looking at a parade of shops where Morgan’s used to be, the road looks much the same but the parade has been revamped and Morgans is gone – replaced by clothing and coffee shops. This is some of the most valuable real estate in the UK so it was natural that such places would end up here.
I felt a little nostalgic and the memories of my formative years came back walking along the street. I just assumed that Morgans had gone for good. A victim to either market forces or more likely one of the recessions over the last thirty years that saw many of the businesses off during that time.
On a whim, I decided to goggle them this morning and to my surprise they are still going, different owners but still selling slightly obsolete stuff from dodgy looking brochures and they are still using the same black on yellow logo!