Sunday, March 29, 2009

Regenerating the local economy

Time was, I could nip down the road, get a train to the next town, do the Saturday morning shop and get the next train back. Time was.

They've cut the timetable down so much that I have given up on it: I'd get the early train (the next train being nearly lunchtime); do the shop then wait a hour and a half for the next train.

There is a bus which takes me in, it goes down the road every half hour. So I got to using it. But I've had to give up on that, too, now: I can get into town to shop but I'm damned if I can find a way of getting back that doesn't involve walking home. Redevelopment you see. The town's new shopping complex is being built, which means that the bus stops on teh main road have all been placed out of use. "Go to the next stop" signs have been stuck on the bus shelters, so that I did. And waited for an hour until a friendly soul passed and told me that the buses don't run that way any more either. So I traced back and tried the previous stop, with no success. And taking the bus to the terminus and then back again, mapping the route we take as we travelled. I can't have been furtive enough, they twigged what I was doing: they never went that way again.

And in the end it's not worth it anyway. The council's strategy for building a new shopping complex involved running the old one down over a period of five years, closing each shop unit as the lease ran out. In the end only Farm Foods and the local butcher persisted, hanging on desperately until they were finally forced out. Once they went there was just a small parade of shops and the market left.

Unfortunately they've been running the market down for the past decade, presumably as part of the run-up to the new shopping complex. All that's left is a greengrocer's, a florist and a lady who sells cheap greeting cards. And twenty-seven empty concrete stall settings last painted in 1979.

And doubly unfortunate as the last shop left in the parade was Woolworths.


Mrs Pouncer said...

Kevin, dear, where on earth do you live? It sounds ghastly. Here in the Thames Valley, florid-faced types in ankle-length aprons stand and serve as if Dame Shirley Porter had never been invented. We have Jackson Freres (ask Wendy) for millinery and haberdashery, and the largest branch of La Senza in the home counties for the Pussycat Dolls lingerie range*. The pharmacists couldn't be more accommodating, doling out prescription inhibitors with a flourish, and the most amusing little off licence has just opened in Twyford, of all places, called Booze Bargain's. Of course, nobody knows one in Twyford, and it is the work of a second to mount the kerb, schlep in, and back into the Defender with 2 litres of Olde Tsar's Drinking-Type Vodka and a Rees's Nutrageous. Do move, Kev. You know where to find me.

scarlet-blue said...

I have Tunbridge Wells. Nuff said.
Have you tried internet shopping? Great fun... food as well as shoes; it saves a lot of bother.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Kev, all trains here run on a skeleton service. To get to my father-in-law's village on a Saturday there are no services between 8am or 4:30pm. I walked last time, took 3 hours, loved it.

Tunbridge Wells is a nice town, Scarley, don't knock it!

scarlet-blue said...

Goodness me Gadj! That's what I meant.

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Mrs. P. It used to be quite nice. We'd gotten over the effects of the town planners of the late sixties, only to be hammered by the new Philistines of the noughties.

Scarlet: It's the having to stay in on the off-chance that deliveries arrive roughly as promised that I can't abide.

Gadjo: this is, in fact, the summer strategy for Manchester's tram service. All services in the City Centre will be replaced by walking. I expect they'll try to charge us thirty bob for the privelige, too.