Friday, July 20, 2007
Kings of Convenience
I had a brief encounter recently. I was at an awards ceremony being lavished with silverware when an English gentleman insisted on taking me up on something he'd overheard me say. I won't bore you with the details, but it involved ASDA's impending takeover of a very prominent family supermarket chain. It was hard to take offence to his argument, business being business, buyouts and takeovers happen every day. And I nodded politely as he went on. This guy knew his retail. Anyway, I eventually did take offence when he called Ireland a nation of convenience stores. Apparently, we're the world number 1 for Spars, Centras and Londis's. They're literally queuing up to open new ones, all over Ireland.
Now, I offered an articulate and deft reason for this. We've become a bunch of cunts.
Today, I hear that the famous Henry Grattan pub on Baggot street is to become a Londis. This is double whammy. Another unneeded shop and the another unneeded loss of a small bit of our heritage. One of the great treats I get from going abroad is the total lack of stores like these. I love the way I have to go, say in Paris, to one store for a newspaper and another for a bottle of Water. Or in Budapest, an apple in small grocer number one and a Kuntz bar from stall number two. Now, an historic city centre pub is to be stripped of all it's character and painted bright green and filled with over-priced, ready made meals.
Now, there is a tenuous link to old Ireland in the emergence of these retail culture rapists. It was not unknown in Ireland 100 years ago for you to get drunk, send your post, buy half a pig and pick up some Persil in the same spot. Cute. But the level that Londis has encroached onto the main streets isn't cute, It's just nasty.
You know, this was gonna be another attack on modern Ireland. "If the cultured folks of Berlin and Madrid can do without Spars, then why do we need them" I would of said. But you know, that's not what this was about.
It's just sad