Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Saturday High Street experience

The view of the church on the High Street from Tesco
in Haverhill, Suffolk
Started Saturday 8th January 2011.  10.10 am.
Words 747

Saturday morning.  Woke to a feline nose pressed up against mine.  The subtlety of the cats' mind to sneak up and gently rouse you as opposed to the canine method where back legs overtake front as they career up the stairs has a lot of merit.   Being fond of both dogs and cats leads me to give both a certain amount of leeway. 

So having answered and filed all those emails, and added those that needed sorting out to my calendar, I walked down the High Street to Tescos.   At  about 8.30 in the morning Haverhill High Street is usually populated by the older generation who are queuing as the British do, at Paul Firmin's Vegetable stall.  I was reminded over the Christmas period that I was in the same school year as his brother towards the end of  one of those evenings in British pubs (The Royal Exchange in this case) that happen near Christmas.   At that time of year the world and his wife come out to play, you might then not see them again for another year.

As I walked further up th High Street I met up with somebody who I hadn't seen for a year owing to career change issues and hibernation (see yesterday's blog).  About 14 months ago we set up an allotment society in Hundon.  This was to spark interest in getting people to use a set of allotments in the heart of the village. The villagers were concerned that this prime area might fall to re-development.  We were the Hundon Ploughmen Society, very informal group with a cheesy name.  The reason we were the Hundon Ploughmen was  because we met to discuss our horticultural endevours at the Hundon Plough 

So to Tesco.  Many years ago before Tesco arrived there was great debate in my local pub as to whether it should arrive.  The site was the former Haverhill North Train station (we are still apparently one of the largest town in the UK without a rail service) and RHM Flour mill, the view from the store steps you can see above.  I was of the opinion that it would be good for the town, and so passionate about it was that I wrote my first and only letter to the local paper. I sandbagged the local editor who I used chat to occasionally at that time on the night before the  press deadline.  He agreed to have a look.  I'd put the letter in a sealed envelope so he wouldn't feel bullied in to reading it there and then.  It was published.  I don't delude myself to think it really made any difference since Tesco would be coming anyway, it was only a matter of time.  Big Supermarkets have a factor of  inevitability about them.

In my time at a local school I saw the phenomenal amount of computer equipment we used to get from the Tesco Voucher scheme.  And we didn't have a Tesco.  This represented a size able chunk of the local collective earnings, as I intimated in my letter, being spent outside the town.

There are more jobs for my former pupils to choose from now Tesco has come along.  That can be a much overlooked factor in a rural area.  Haverhill is "twenty miles from anywhere", approximately twenty miles from Cambridge,  Bury St Edmunds, Braintree and Sudbury.   Opportunities used to be few if you did not have the skill set or inclination to work in the local pork processing factories, chemical factories or myriad light engineering factories (everything from the Formula 1 components to stage s for Andrew Lloyd Webber stages are made in town).  

A hunt round the aisles of Tesco for Feta cheese, chorizo and tea bags occupied only a short time.  I tend to buy those items that I can't buy from a local trader in Tesco. I like keeping the cash local for those goods and services run by local people.  Other people in the town do this as well. This is probably why we have a diverse High  Street and not just charity shops, Estate and Travel agents as found in some other places. 

Shop Local and you won't have to complain about the fact there are no independent traders invigorating your High Street!!!

Enough for now, going to read the East Anglian Daily Times and see what's happening in my backyard (bit larger area  - Suffolk) next week.  Then plant some pots of Cat Grass for the cat on the Kitchen windowsill.

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