Another one bites the dust

I may be getting a bit obsessional about this topic but indulge me by seeing how quickly you can identify this brand:

–  formed the year I was born, 1952, in Newcastle upon Tyne

–  the company employs 20,000 people and generated revenues of nearly £750M in 2012

–  it’s marketing face is the luckiest man on TV Paddy McGuinness

–  their strapline is ‘the home of fresh baking’ and they sell sandwiches, sausage rolls and doughnuts. Millions of them and, if truth be told, the occasional Cornish pastie to me.

Yes of course its Greggs and at the last count they had 1671 outlets throughout the UK. Well one fewer than that actually because last week this was the scene we faced on Teddington’s Broad St:

Image

Continue reading

The end of high street UK? Not necessarily.

HMV Gift Card lge

Well I thought I’d posted this earlier but no it went into the ether never to be seen again, so, frustratingly, here’s my second version….. Have you heard this one? An HMV voucher’s not just for Xmas; it’s for life. Ha ha! But it’s not so amusing if you’re one of the poor buggers who received them for Xmas and cannot now redeem them. Nor is it funny for the even poorer souls who spent good money buying these as presents and they are now worthless (I think there should be a law against companies simply declaring these things as unredeemable without any notice period). And it’s even less amusing if you are one of the 1000’s of unlucky sods who face unemployment now after working their rocks off up to and through the hectic Xmas period. How must that feel? Happy 2013 to all staff eh.

Continue reading

high streets

Have you nerticed  the quirkyness of English? Not the people; the language.  It’s the most significant on the planet and yet it is just about the most irregular, polyglot, rapacious (in its ability to borrow), adaptable, frustrating and evolving language mankind has ever known. Despite its influence it is almost certainly one of the hardest to master because of its many peculiararities.  And we speak it every day and rarely trouble ourselves with its intricacies. But as regular readers will know that’s a dead cert subject for me to reflect upon. The Eurozone’s in crisis, austerity beckons and yet I  about words when I ought to be hard at work.  Take that word ‘work’. It’s innocuous isn’t it? As we all know it means to toil or be employed. But have you noticed how it is pronounced – like werk?  Nothing funy on the face of it but look at a host of other words spelt the same way like pork, cork and fork. In dozens of cases it’s an ‘or’ sound in the middle. Why is work pronounced differently? Don’t you find it odd? And here’s something odder; there’s already a word beginning with a and pronounced like ‘pork’ but it is spelled ‘walk‘. Interesting, the letters ‘al‘ as in ‘pale’ or ‘talc’ or ‘real’ are pronounced as ‘or‘? Is this what they mean by perfidious Albion?  How on earth do foreign students ever grasp our language? But they do with seemingly apparently ease, and yet after 5 years in Italy, which has an almost perfectly constructed language, I probably know no more than 10 phrases and 100 words, sigh.

Continue reading

empty shops

I’ve started to notice an unwelcome trend developing on our high street in Teddington – the blight of the empty shop. It’s only a few at the moment but these things have a habit of escalating until you end up with the situation that developed in Buckingham where the town centre ended up being populated by a few banks, a couple of pubs and barbers/hairdressers, an growing clutch of charity shops and the rest just lying empty.  The few remaining shops actually selling fresh and new products were seen off by the opening of a Tesco express which hoovered up the last bit of town centre trade not already  attracted to its superstore no more than half a mile away on the town’s ring road. Before we’d left the town had lost its only clothes shop, hardware store, toy shop, book store, wine shop, two out of the last 3 jewellers and of course its Woolworths. It’s nothing like as bad in Teddington which remains bustling and has a varied shopping scene but I pass by a few shops every day and hardly ever see a soul in some of them.  Have you noticed something similar in your town and wonder how a few of them manage to survive?

Continue reading