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Posts Tagged ‘high street’

Bee called us today as the Vicar needed to get some details for a return to the Registrar for her and Rocky’s marriage certificate. Since they’re no longer living in our attic, but in Bristol, where Rocky is now an ordinand, they’ve been following this blog for local news. I gave them all sorts of exciting updates (rather too exciting for this blog just now, I’m afraid) and then Bee asked me about Padda’s, our local grocers that mysteriously closed down a couple of weeks ago.

I was able to give her the good news that they have reopened. Hurrah! No longer will I worry about where to source spices and lentils. I’ve not actually visited the shop since the shutters opened again, but the Vicar has been. The staff told him cryptically that they’d been ‘on holiday’.

Not being as nosy as I am, he didn’t ask for further and better particulars, and I’ve not managed to find out anything more, though I was told that the owner ‘found a lot of money from somewhere’ to pay his outstanding bills. So that’s the rather unclear (non)story from here. Not quite sure what to make of it but relieved that our High Street hasn’t lost a valuable retail outlet.

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This weekend the Engineer’s godmother, Song, told me that our tow-un had been mentioned on Radio 4’s Food Programme. But not in a good way. It was in a programme looking at the effects and prevalence of trans-fats – factory produced fats which are used in cheap foods and which are linked to obesity and other health problems. Some national companies like McDonalds and KFC have signed up to a pledge to remove all trans-fats from their food by the end of this year. But small independent companies, like most of the ones in our high street, have generally not signed up.

The Food Programme’s presenter, Sheila Dillon, visited our high street (at around 15 minutes into the programme) with Sandwell’s Director of Public Health, Dr John Middleton. Dr Middleton says that Sandwell has been described as ‘fat central’ and that the quality of food that can be bought in the area is a factor in the obesity issues here.

And last week our local paper posted an article about how the high street here is one of the worst in the UK. The rental prices for retail property in the town have plummeted because the profits that can be made are so low that retailers are reluctant to operate here. So nearly all the shops sell cheap or heavily discounted products, which brings us trans-fats in the cut-price food and then the associated health problems.

So here, unlike Bristol, here we’re waiting for Tesco to save and regenerate our high street, as their new superstore is built. Saving and regenerating the town’s people, however, is something only God can do.

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I drove into tow-un yesterday morning to get some messages (as the Scots like to say). As I was driving I noticed a few new shops that have opened recently that should give you the flavour of the boom industries in our neighbourhood. They were:

  • A Polish delicatessan. I think we must now have half a dozen of these shops in town now, along with a good few Polish hairdressers and beauticians. A sign of the changing face of immigration in the area – many Eastern Europeans have joined the mix that brings a buzz alongside many challenges and gives us 22 languages spoken in the homes of the children in our church primary school.
  • A new ‘wine’ shop. There are very many off licences in our high street, and all the grocers sell cheap booze along with the chapatti flour. I saw a chap who must have patronised one of the local off licences in the carpark of Lidl at 11am, rolling as he walked and clutching a bottle of Frosty Jack cider.
  • A Brook ‘Young People’s Health Shop’. A sad indicator of the ubiquity of the sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility that is the norm here and that contributes to the brokenness of so many lives around us.

Talking of my trip to Lidl, as I went into the shop a chap charmingly spat generously on the floor by his car, which his wife and child were sitting in. He looked shocked when I mentioned to him that his behaviour was both disgusting and a health hazard.

I didn’t wait to discuss it with him any further though, chicken that I am, and dashed into the shop to stock up on cheap sliced ham and fresh peaches.

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