I sometimes find it hard to feel sorry for retailers who are suffering now because no-one is in the mood to throw money at ‘funny’ Presents for Dads, chocolate fountain machines, 2 kilo chocolate bars, halloween costumes, ‘occasion cards’ for no particular occasion at £2.95 a shot, celebrity and TV-show spin-off gifts, and all the other meaningless, pointless impedimenta that stacks up in supermarkets, only to be thrown out with almost no use at all. I did feel sorry for Woolworths, because in amongst the tat, they sold useful stuff. In Berlin, you could by a cobbler’s last at the Woolies in Potsdamer Straße.
Shops that sell things you might actually need which costs what they cost, even if that’s a matter of pence rather than arbitrary price points of nearly £5, £10 or £20 seem thinner and thinner on the ground. So I was thrilled to this wonderful Cycle Shop & General Stores in Long Hanborough near Oxford, which is everything a shop should be, in my fantasy world. Where else could you get paper plates, a guinea-pig’s water bottle, ice-cube bags, paint, slug-killer, salt-cellars, cycle pumps and a host of other details of daily life in one small shop?