I think I’m beginning to be accepted as a local. I pop into my local shop every morning (bar Sundays) to get my copy of the i newspaper. For the first month or so I was dibbing into our loose change jar to pay for it as I thought this would help the shopkeeper. When I got down to the shrapnel I started paying for it on my card. Two or three weeks ago the owner said to me, look if you pay for the paper with cash, it costs me an admin fee to hand it into the bank. And because I pay a commission on every card transaction, I actually lose money when you pay each day with your flexible friend.  I pondered for a second if he was about to ask me to take my business elsewhere. But he quickly noticed a look of disappointment creeping across my face and said, so why don’t you just come in and take your paper each morning and settle up on a Saturday for the week. That way I make a small profit  and you don’t have to queue. I said you must trust me. And he said of course you’re one of my best regulars now. Well I could not have felt more welcomed.  

Now I agreed of course. And I’d like to tell you it’s worked pretty sweetly so far financially for us. The only issue has been that whilst he’s a good businessman, he’s not the best communicator. He employs different people each day to serve in the shop (by which I mean he has a core team who take turns in the shop) and not one of them, including his wife, was aware of our arrangement. Which is ok except that I’ve had to explain the new payment deal, and convince them that I’m telling the truth, before walking out of the shop with a paper under my arm seemingly without paying. I’ve also had to deal with some concerned looks from other customers too. I don’t think he’s conferred this arrangement on many other people because the immediate response from the staff has been a surprised, oh really? well ok. Anyway it’s all been done with lots of good spirit and now all the staff are up to speed and seem to enjoy having a bit less work to do as I now get a big smile and a regular thumbs up response whenever I walk in. It does make you feel a little bit special even though its just a 65p a day level of trust.

But I just tell myself it’s the thought not the amount that matters eh. The other thing that I like about the shop is that it opens at 5.30am. That might sound like the middle of the night to most people but Caz and I are fitful sleepers these days and one or both of us is usually up around 6 am. Which means I can pop out for my paper early before starting on breakfast. One of the things I notice each morning (bar Sundays) is that the refuse collection lorries are out virtually every day – they spilt collections between businesses and homes and also collect waste and recycling/green bins on different days. But I like to see the lorries constantly doing their stuff…


But it is not just the refuse lorries I see about and about. Most days I’ll see guys in their high viz clothing emptying the bins or collecting street litter…

and twice a week or so I’ll see the scarab units clearing and cleaning the road edges – side streets as well as main roads…

It just makes me feel happier that the town puts a premium on tidiness and civic cleanliness. In addition the Council has spent a lot of money (I’m guessing) re-laying many road surfaces around the town during lockdown. I used to complain about the hundreds of potholes that bedevilled the roads around Brackley, Towcester and Buckingham but here they’ve taken advantage of the quiet traffic levels to maintain road quality. Not just that but they’ve been laying new paved areas in the open spaces around the river and theatre where visitors gather, cutting back loads of trees affecting sight lines at traffic roundabouts etc, and building a complete new adventure playground in the recreational area for youngsters…

It makes you think that Stratford upon Avon is a tidy town, making sensible use of the lockdown and huge drop in visitors to get things ready for their return. Three cheers from me for the civic leaders. Well done.

Btw and just in case you were wondering I do vary my paper buying habits on a Sunday. I like The Sunday Times even if it takes about 4 days to read all the sections. But it costs a whopping £3 and because I’m so cheap I’ll go to Waitrose and get it free with a bit of Sunday top up shopping  (a bottle of wine usually ha!). One thing I do miss is the weekend edition of the New York Times in its paper format; its sectioning seems more intuitive and engaging than with the ST (where food and cooking is in the investigative magazine and the Review is now in the main paper).  I used to love browsing through it on long week-ends in Connecticut with friends S&M. Though thanks to my daughter S, I now get the digital version. As newspapers go I’ll just quote Nessa and say it’s tidy.



6 thoughts on “Tidy

  1. Ah brings back memories. The one thing I was good at during my school life was arithmetic and maths. Just loved them. My parents had a newsagent/tobacconist/toy shop in Edinburgh right beside the Heart of Midlothian football ground and I would serve behind the counter from about the age of nine. Men would come in for their Daily Express (always the Express and Evening News at night) along with their packet of ten or 20 Woodbine, Embassy or even Capstan Full Strength. Two shillings and six pence. During the day the women folk would come in for one, two or five cigs so often had to split a packet of ten because they didn’t have enough money. Great for mental division! We had a big book with pink slips and a carbon under copy for their weekly paper bill. Had to mark it all up every day they got their paper for their end of week total and hopefully bill settlement.

    Great read as always Paul. Thanks for the recollections

    • Great feedback Al. I never knew you were a shopkeeper’s son but always remember you were as sharp as a button when we were discussing fees/investment levels, RoI etc with our sponsored partners in Scotland. Especially when we weren’t getting vfm. Boy we had some fun discussions over that eh mate. Seems like a million years ago but I like these memories you come up. I guess it’s what we have left eh.

      Thanks as ever for checking by


  2. I buy the Sunday Times the same way as you do ☺ Also I’ve come to the conclusion that a good night’s sleep is usually the province of the under forties !

    • Hi Lorraine and fellow ST reader. I agree completely that a good nights sleep is the monopoly of the unfair 40’s. Their time will come!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s