John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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was a fish-and-chip shop in Newland Avenue, Hull, patronised by Hull University students when I was there (1972–1975) perversely because it was so bad. George in our student house liberally used the words “grease and filth”, with adjectives indicating plenitude, in describing it. Everything that came out of the fryer was dark brown, but you could tell which was fish and which was one of the chips because the fish was quite a lot bigger. The ageing lady behind the counter was taken to be Monica and the man in the grubby roll-neck jumper with her was thus dubbed Mr. Monica. The tabloid newspaper Daily Mirror used to have a section called “Old Codgers” which featured people’s recommendations about places and services they had enjoyed; and George wrote in to Old Codgers: “I reckon I know a good bit of cod when I taste it, so we recommend Monica’s Fish Palace.…” His letter extolling the supposed virtues of Monica’s establishment continued similarly, and concluded that it was “well worth one visit.” Monica didn’t see the irony of George’s letter, and used to give him free portions if he was foolhardy enough to go in there afterwards. The expressions “Monica’s Fish Palace” and “well worth one visit” found their way into the listing in the students’ union handbook after that.

Maybe it's a Hullensian tradition to turn out fish & chips in the way which you have described here, John. I remember other such fish & chip shops there whose dishes would also fit this description. Can you remember Carver's on the Old Town market, behind Holy Trinity Church? They also used to have a stand at Hull Fair, and their produce was always dark brown in appearance, and somewhat overdone. Their place always used to be full of smoke, probably from the excessive amount of fat which was being burned! Can't say I ever had the pleasure of visiting Monica's, however.
I never had the dubious delight of Carver's — and I thought that Monica's was unique in Hull! The phenomenon was not unique to Hull though, because Janet and I remember a similar establishment in Heneage Road, Grimsby, which we dubbed "Pseudo-Monica's".
Not Heneage Road: it was Farebrother Street.
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