06 October 2009

In memoriam

Nostalgia is not what it used to be. But let me indulge myself, as I am becoming broody in my old age.

When I was a lad, back in the 1950s, I was occasionally required to accompany my mother on her Saturday morning shop. Obviously, this was very much a second best alternative to the more preferable Saturday morning visit to the flicks - the New Vic where one would be entertained by Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Flash Gordon.

These shopping trips were after the demise of rationing - people forget (or never knew) that rationing survived well into the 50s. It was nevertheless before the advent of supermarkets and shopping involved a trail round various specialist shops. Thus, the Saturday morning trip to Tollcross required a visit to the butcher, the fruiterer for fruit and veg (usually Rankin's as I recall), the baker (Martin's, I think) and the dairy (Edinburgh and Dumfriesshire Dairies of course). With luck, the trip might also involve a visit to the ironmonger, a mysterious emporium smelling of paraffin and firelighters. Booze? No, booze was not acquired on a Saturday morning; that was the purpose of a more furtive visit to an off-licence at another time.

Nowadays, ironmongers, fruiterers and dairies have flitted to that place in the sky where reside the haberdashers and the milliners. Thankfully, a few specialist butchers survive but Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrison's appear to have driven out the rest.

The world may be a more convenient place - but a better one? Somehow I doubt it.

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