Friday, 18 June 2021

A Complaint

I know I have written on this topic before several times so at risk of repeating myself here goes - I am writing about it again.

Since I fell and broke my hip in late October I have not been into our little town at all.   I always go to the Hairdresser each Thursday morning but my Salon is this side of the town so I don't go into the centre at all.   But this week, because their next Client had a Doctor's appointment the taxi had to collect me ten minutes early and instead of asking them to drop me at the Salon I asked to be dropped off at the Newsagent's in town so that I could peruse and finally buy a Gardening magazine.   I then walking gently back with Priscilla and arrived just on time for my appointment - important as the number of clients allowed in at once is limited by Covid regulations.

And how depressing was the walk from the Newsagent's to the Salon?   I arrived totally disillusioned and, in fact, horrified.   First of all our lovely shop, Serendipity, which sold a wonderful variety of quality goods - Handbags, jewellery, china, cards, candles, furniture, bedlinen and a variey of other things - and was a real Mecca for tourist traffic (many stop here for a coffee stop on their way for lunch at The Wensleydale Creamery) has closed.   Yesterday I saw that Costa Coffee, which was housed in what once  was our HSBC Branch and had fairly recently been totally refurbished before it closed, had also closed.   Its windows were filthy, rubbish was piled up in the doorway and weeds grew all along the path edge.   It was disgraceful.

Two major shops in the town closed.   It is only a small town and the shops are distributed round the Market Square and quite unmissable.   What kind of impression does it all give to visiting tourists and what kind of welcome to the few thousand inhabitants?   Very poor I would guess.

Yes - I admit it.   I am old fashioned.   But I have spoken before about Joe Hardy who, when I was at Primary School in the village eighty years ago, was what we called the village'Road Man '.   His tools?  A long handled, stiff sweeping brush a shovel and a wheel barrow.   Our Lincolnshire village never had a scrap of rubbish anywhere.   If it did then when you passed Mr Hardy working away at his own pace, you told him.

Now we have a fancy brush on a lorry - it goes along the gutter, sweeping it clean.   It doesn't pull up any weeds in the gutter and, of course, it can't get into doorways.   Is it not possible that a couple of men could be found for this, and many more small towns and villages, and employed as modern 'road men'?

The added advantage of Mr Hardy as far as we kids were concerned was that on wash days (always Mondays) Mr Hardy's smalls were hung on the line by Mrs Hardy and small they most certainly were not because he wore what I think were called 'combinations' - a kind of sleeved vest and long underpants in one, with a large hole at 'bottom level' for obvious reasons I presume.   And on a windy day (no pun intended) they flapped amazingly in the breeze!

And, by golly, dare to drop a sweet paper in his sight and you got what for. 

26 comments:

Derek Faulkner said...

You're describing what is a common sight in many town or village high streets these days. A combination of trying to compete with large out of town shopping centers, and a series of Covid Lockdowns, has caused the closure of thousands of small shops. There is no excuse for the litter problems, especially for those that drop it in the first place, but councils these days will plead poverty and tight budgets.
By the way, next time you ask for rain can you insist that it's for Yorkshire only. After Weds night's storms it has rained almost all day here today and my garden looks a sodden mess.

Anne Brew said...

Back to agreeing you with everything you say! We don't value these necessary jobs and so they don't get done. I was in Australia some years ago and wanted to use a public convenience. a young man in a smart polo shirt with an cleaning insignia on the pocket was sweeping nearby. When he saw me he said, One moment I'll check it's clean for you. I got talking to him and he said he worked for the district cleaning firm and said he ws proud of his important job and that it was quite common for people of his age to do work of this kind to keep their country clean.

Derek Faulkner said...

The only thing young people in this country are proud of, is their Smart phones!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I think we will find a lot of closed businesses if and when we finally get back to going to town. The village where I live has a litter-picking man who patrols the streets and the recreation ground most mornings, and there are several other people (including me) who pick up litter when out on walks.

The Feminine Energy said...

Doesn't that absolutely break your heart? *sigh* Closed businesses... especially those we loved... is hard to bear. I tried to patronize those businesses by ordering curbside pickup and all that jazz, during COVID, because they were begging people to in order to stay open. But some silently closed without one bit of fanfare. This virus has done more than kill people. All of it breaks my heart to no end, to this day. So I'm right there with you, in your sadness, my friend. Try to keep your chin up and I will too. ~Andrea xoxoxo PS~ I so agree with Derek's comment above!!!!!

Tasker Dunham said...

You'd think, with people working more from home, that shops in small towns and villages would be surviving at the expense of bigger places.
As regards jobs that need people to do them, we visited Blackpool about 3 years ago. Railings rusting on the piers in need of painting. Meanwhile, underneath the piers, scores of people drinking and taking drugs. What's the solution?

Mary Ellen said...

Pat, It's not just in England. Here, in USA, there are endless empty Walmarts and big department stores - they are an eyesore and we are being forced to shop on-line - dirty windows - trash - it's disgusting. I miss our little shops and coffee shops. We seem to be going backwards - way, way back. Then, here, in the good old USA, you have to hope you are not gunned down in the grocery store. I am so happy that I am old. I see nothing better down the road. AT least we have so very many happy memories - I always thought things would just get better - what happened?

Bonnie said...

I'm sorry you had to see that Pat and I'm sorry so many nice places are closing. It's been extremely difficult for small businesses to survive what Covid has done to them. It is much the same here in our country. Most shopping centers have more businesses closed than open. The downtown areas are the same except for one or two expensive tourist areas. Most of the department stores have closed making it difficult to find a good place to buy clothes. I think all the internet shopping started this and now Covid is finishing it. For many items we have no choice but to buy online now.

Someone mentioned a person's pride in their work. You don't see much of that any longer and that is one of the saddest things of all to me.

happy hooker said...

Lots of businesses were in trouble already, then Covid put the final nail in the coffin. High rents and business rates, parking charges and people shopping on-line have all contributed to the decline. We used to have street sweepers regularly around our area. I haven't seen them for years now. And a pet hate of mine is bags of dog poo, either thrown on the ground, into people's gardens or even hung on trees! Why, if someone goes to the trouble of picking up their dog's poo, can't they put it in a bin? I just don't get it! xx

CharlotteP said...

Coincidentally, a friend of mine rang today, and said that her daughter, a manageress for Costa coffee in a small country town, is off work with stress. She has been told that her branch is not making enough profit...the rent for the shop is £7000 - a week. The world has gone quite mad...

Heather said...

I think this will be similar to many small towns. I know we have lost several shops since Covid took hold. Added to that the council decided to close the High Street to through traffic in order to pedestrianise it. Not a popular decision among local shopkeepers and residents. It now looks 'neither nowt nor summat' with pubs and coffee shops putting out tables and chairs in the road or out on pavements.

Bonnie said...

I think everything cycles in and out. When I first moved to Minneapolis in the late 1970s, all of the little mom & pop corner shops were closing and stayed closed for almost ten years. Then everywhere, they became coffee shops and small art boutiques and cafes, grocery, and clothing stores. It was so nice to see "neighborhoods" again. Then rents go up, or COVID or our race problems escalate, and they all close up. I believe I'm seeing enough entrepreneurial spirit that they will rise again. Hope so!
Bonnie in Minneapolis

Jane from Dorset said...

Our small town is busier than ever and several new businesses have opened during the last eighteen months.
As to litter, a group of us keep the town litter free on a voluntary basis with fortnightly litter picks.

Helen said...

First, I want to say I love the humour as you ended your post. Next, yes I agree about the state of so many of our cities ... large and small. The over one year of 'hunkering down' hurt so many. We may never fully recover life as it used to be. Thanks for writing this, take care, I am thrilled you made it to the beauty salon!!!

Joanne Noragon said...

Recovery from almost two years of lock down is only beginning. But, beginning it is. Too many enterprising people to not have it so.

Cro Magnon said...

I can remember, when I was very small, going up to London with my father. En route for the station we passed our village road-sweeper, and my father told me to take note of exactly where he was working. When we returned home that afternoon, he told me to take note of where he was after those several hours had passed. He was about 30 feet down the road; leaning on his brush.

Hilde said...

When we moved to our village more than 30 years ago, there wer about ten shops, a post office, two hairdressers and three pubs. Now there are only the butcher, a flower shop (which also cares for the flowers on the graves) and one pub. The others all closed long before Covid. There are two big supermarkets in the village nearby, and a lot of people shop where they work, in the big towns.
During the day, our village is like a ghost town now. I met an eldery lady who told me "I go to the graveyard every day. It is the only place nowadays where you meet people"
Hilde in Germany

thelma said...

Our little town seems to be functioning well, there is a spirit of keeping it looking spruce with flowers everywhere, and our local Green party goes out litter picking on the weekends on the main country roads. It is in the end a small band of people who will write town blogs and organise things that make it happen, you have to bless the internet for that.

Bovey Belle said...

I have to say, our little town is looking improved upon Lockdown days, when all but vital shops (Newsagents, Pet food shop, hardware store) were shut. Now empty shops have opened up as new enterprises and the rest who were hunkered down for the duration, have opened and town is SO BUSY. We couldn't even park in the main car park yesterday for K's daily walk by the river. We get a lot of through trade as the High street is the main road through. Parallel parking is always a challenge with through traffic breathing down your neck!

I haven't seen any litter so someone is hard at work, and when we walked through the churchyard yesterday, there were people out and about (it's a short cut for many living nearby).

Librarian said...

My town has similar problems, as I suspect is more or less the case all around the world. People order online instead of visiting shops, and for months on end, the shops were closed anyway - all but supermarkets and drug stores.
Even now that they are open again, most people enjoy shopping a lot less than before, what with having to wear masks, visit certain shops on appointment only and generally feeling ill at ease in crowded places.
The litter is of course first and foremost the responsibility of those who leave it around, but next in line are the local authorities who should make sure their streets are reasonably clean. It is not just a matter of aesthetics, it is also about health - rodents and other pests thrive when there is a lot of rubbish around.

The bike shed said...

Our little town in Wales (where I've just moved from actuallY) has a one-man road sweeper and town tidier and bin emptier - and though not the brightest spark he is known and much loved by all the town. He's sort a town institution. And I think it's no coincidence that the town has won Brittain in bloom more times than any other in its class.

Rachel Phillips said...

One of the Costa Coffee shops is closing in Norwich. The rent was £55,000 per annum. I always felt that this coffee shop thing would go full circle and never really understood it.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Bike Shed - all local authorities should read what yu say here.



BB Somebody is looking after you well.


Thanks everyone for your responses.

Tom Stephenson said...

I am a bit late for this, but I think that hedging and ditching should return for everyone's sake, not least the poor hedges which are horribly mutilated by slashers on tractors. It is not cheaper in the long run to employ one man with a tractor rather than a few farm workers who do a good job when they have little to do on the farm.

The Weaver of Grass said...

My farmer always did his hedges himself, took pride in doin so and always cleaned up afterwards. He would always go and inspect them the next Spring to make sure he had done a good job.

Janie Junebug said...

How sad to see your village deteriorate. I seldom visit the main drag of my neighborhood these days and when I did recently, I was shocked to see how it had changed. I'm your newest follower.

Love,
Janie Junebug