Monday, 17 December 2007
Every so often here, they have articles about how the move to out of town shopping centres and supermarkets is killing the local village shops. At least they used to - now I don't read the UK press I don't see them, though last week there was exactly the same sort of article in "Simerini" - a Cypriot paper which was talking about a market that now gets no people because the evil supermarkets have taken all their customers.
I don't agree with those who think that the answer is to stop supermarkets being built - after all, the real problem is that people shop in them. So it's the people's fault, and unless you're a Communist or a Nazi you shouldn't be trying to coerce them.
I also don't live in a village. Nevertheless, this year we've lost our local newsagents. Fair enough - people buy newspapers in the supermarkets, and the other "convenience" products, such as milk, and groceries, can't compete with the supermarket either. However, there was also a Post Office inside which was forced to close.
I've never liked Post Offices. You used to have to go to them to get your car tax renewed annually. Now you do it over the phone. Around the end of every month, there would be queues out of the door with people clutching their road tax forms.
The last time I went to the one that used to be across the road, I queued for 15 minutes for a passport application form, only to be told that they didn't do them - I'd have to go into the main town centre branch and wait there for another 15 minutes.
People say that the demise of the local Post Offices is cutting off a life-line to the old and infirm, who loved to spend what little was left of their lives in an endless queue waiting to collect their weekly pension. Now it's all done electronically into their bank accounts. They say that innovations such as this and the telephone road tax is to blame.
My answer to this is that I shouldn't have to endure misery so that as an indirect consequence some old biddy has an excuse to catch up on the village gossip. If old people need to socialise, then the answer is to organise things for them.
Anyway, on Saturday morning, after a 10 hour celebratory session the night before, I found myself in a queue at the Post Office, standing in front of someone with a bad cough. If I don't survive to see New Year, you'll know why. I really hope they've shut them all down before I retire - the idea of looking forwards to spending my old age in one of those places isn't massively appealing.
I know that we're lucky - I've read a couple of articles from Greece which talk about queuing to renew their identity cards. How Orwellian is that? Still, if I ever get round to emigrating there, at least it'll give me something to blog about...