Thursday, 16 August 2012

London's Local Shop-Loving Celebrity Population Under Threat?

The whole of North East London will be engaged in rapturous celebration this weekend, as news broke that a Walthamstow Spar has been short-listed for the International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award. The winner of the award will be announced on 26th of September, and many local residents will not be sleeping a wink until then. “I’ll not be sleeping a wink until then,” one excited Spar shopper told me while hopping from foot to foot and almost dropping her can of hotdogs. “I’ll be having these hotdogs for my dinner to celebrate,” I think she said, but I was already leaving the shop by then.  The Walthamstow Spar will be going up against retailing giants Tesco in their bid for glory, but staff are hoping that the personal touches, such as friendly greetings for each customer and an average IQ above 64 will see them storm to victory over the big firm. They are also hoping that their famous bacon jam will win favour with the judges. Dirty bastards.

Normal jam, without bacon

The carnival atmosphere around Walthamstow illustrates just how important local shops are to local people who live in the locality of them. And we take these nuclei of the community for granted at our peril, for if we lose them we may well lose our celebrities too. Celebrities such as grinning, raven haired, surreal ‘funny’ man Noel Fielding. Unlike most celebrities who bang on endlessly about the destruction of rainforests, starvation and disease in Africa and the plight of the Gurkhas, Fielding has chosen his moral outrage to be the Swains Lane shopping parade in Highgate. And a fine choice it is too. Fielding feels so passionately about the parade that on Wednesday he got up at a public meeting in front of 300 people – very nearly as many as who genuinely like The Mighty Boosh rather than just saying they do in order to appear cool – and verbally opposed plans to knock it down and build a lovely Waitrose. Asked if he would consider moving away from the area if the proposed developments were to take place, Fielding emphatically stated, “I don’t know.”

Which in my mind means yes.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, Les Dennis’ residency in London looks under threat as his local family run newsagent in Highgate is at risk of closure due to product peddling gits Sainsbury’s plans to move in on its turf. Dennis is understandably livid.
“Northwood Dairy isn’t just a convenience store – it is the heart and hub of our community,” the ex Family Fortunes presenter wibbled. “[The owners] watch out for everyone including the elderly and the vulnerable. Would we get that at a Sainsbury’s Local?”
You would if they were shoplifting.

A dejected Les Dennis wonders where his next pint of milk will come from

Even our Premiership footballers are upping sticks and buggering off elsewhere due to the disappearance of local shops. Former Arsenal superstar Robin van Persie has had his transfer to Manchester United all but confirmed this week in a move reportedly worth £24 million. His former manager Arsene Wenger is devastated, stating that he had no choice but to let the striker go after the Dutchman was left shattered when his local Co op closed to make way for a big Asda near his North London home. The decision to move to Manchester was an easy one for van Persie who had done his research and noted that just a short walk from Old Trafford, on nearby Taylor Lane, can be found a branch of the Co op with an ATM, a National Lottery desk and a Pay Point at which he can recharge his electricity key.         

Could this be a sign of things to come? If we Londoners do not do something about this situation now, in ten year’s time we may be completely celebrityless. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, London.

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