I was thinking of this a couple of weeks ago as I enjoyed a quiet French Sunday afternoon. Mass in the morning then silence and peace with the shops all closed the rest of the day, apart from the boulangerie. Heaven on Earth. Are we really so busy, busy, busy that we have to do our shopping on a Sunday. Why can't every Sunday, in the immortal words of Morrissey, be 'silent and grey'? And twenty four hour shopping in ASDA, Tesco and Sainsbury? That's just posing that is. "Oooh, I'm just so busy I had to shop for groceries at 2-00am". No, you can't organise your life properly and think it makes you look oh so very important. A bit like people who have breakfast meetings at 6-30am. Get organised! Nobodies that busy or important.
On the way back from France we talked about how shopping had changed in the UK, Europe and probably the world. When I was a kid Gorton in Manchester had Cross Street and Hyde Road. Both crammed, from end to end, on both sides with small, family owned shops. Butchers, bakers, shoe repairers, shoe shops, biscuit shops, greengrocers, clothes shops, hardware shops, chemists, greasy spoon cafes, fishmongers, fish and chip shops, pie shops, cake shops, television and radio shops, fridge and washing machine shops, household goods shops. I could go on. No book shops as I remember, there was a library round the corner on Cambert Lane.
I used to go shopping on a Saturday morning with my mum and my big sister. We'd have to queue at just about every shop, usually out onto the pavement where goods were out on display stands, and carry numerous carrier bags full of the weeks groceries home between us. That was where all the juicy gossip was passed from headscarved housewife to headscarved housewife, much more colourful than the stuff in the Evening News or East Manchester Reporter. Admittedly I would have been bored rigid by the experience in those days and just wanted to get home so that I could go and watch my dad playing football in the afternoon and have a kick about with my mates. But I miss it now.
All there is in Gorton now is a huge, soulless Tesco Extra. It might be an age thing, but I wonder if one day I might find Mrs B red carding me from Tesco Extra too as well as IKEA.