Monday, 18 June 2007
Father's Day and a Truly Local Economy
I don't know where you stand on your local high street, but no matter where you stand in Oldham's town centre you can not escape the view of a national or global retail outlet of some sort - I use that term deliberately because I simply cannot bring myself to call them shops. To me shops are warm friendly places with character rather than the sterile, vacuous places aimed at taking pounds from your pocket and putting them, with very little removed for the benefit of the employees, into the pockets of the, already, super rich.
There are only a handful of shops in Oldham: Mawson's herbalist, Mrs Zippy's Sewing and Joke Shop, Williamson's Ironmongers and Hardware emporium at Mumps. These are the places with character: where else can you buy a new zip for your jeans, a fake turd and a pair of false boobs in one trip; where else can you receive honest health advice from a qualified herbalist who doesn't want to also sell you the chain store magazine and where else can you buy anything whatsoever in the tool or hardware line. These places have struggled to survive and, in the case of Mawson's and Williamson's come through to produce a diverse business without losing their character. Their keepers - and again I deliberately choose that term; there is in my view, a world of difference between a shopkeeper and sales assistant - deserve our support. So if you happen to be passing through Oldham and need a fake nurse outfit or fake cigarette with a convincing puff of talcum for smoke, call in at Mrs Zippy's.
And so to Fathers Day; there are times when I am proud of my two sons. They are accustomed to my moralistic rants at the television - "Dad, stop shouting at them, they can't hear you and we're missing the next bit" - and they sigh, not always inaudibly, when I start to express my opinions. Just occasionally though they do something that demonstrates that they understand me rather better than I give them credit for. It would have been easy for them to nip along the real ale aisle of Tesco, choose a half dozen bottles such as Black Sheep or Old Peculiar; and I would have been happy. What in actual fact they did buy me was this:
A mini cask of Dobcross Bitter from the artisan brewers at Greenfield Brewery not three miles from here. Local craftsmen, not making a fortune but producing something that, in my view, is worth a fortune.
Well done boys; now all I have to do is convince them that it is far more worth drinking than the tasteless, seven or more, pints of lager that they effortlessly dispatch at weekend.