My urban patch in London never pretended to be anything else. No fancy gentrification here, no, working-class to the core, it has always been deprived. But the small-business-friendly development I saw taking over ten or twelve years ago has halted somewhat in the last lustrum. Five years are a long time in the life of, say, a child. From crying your lungs out because your nappy is soiled to running in the local park, everything looks up. Five years can, however, be life-changing for a shop-keeper. And so they proved to be for the shoe shop in the recently-refurbished shopping centre. It closed down. I bought my children’s first shoes there. I even still wear a pair of boots I purchased at this shop in 2003. Yes, twelve years ago and they are still with me and I still wear them. The shoe shop run by the Asian couple (Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani? I never asked them but they were always so friendly to their loyal customers)
Now that shop is gone. And others. The in-shops went last year and in their place yet another branch of another impersonal, big bank stands. The walk around my area feels sometimes like a walk through a tunnel of mirrors. Grey mirror-like shop windows that return my reflection as their empty interiors keep crying out their oblivion.
Next Post: Saturday Evenings: Stay In, Sit Up and Switch On, to be posted on Saturday 2nd May at 6pm (GMT)