Perhaps the saddest of the scenes of 'thirties-style depression beginning to afflict our high streets as the economy goes kapputt is that of the mile long queues for half price tat outside, in and around your local branch of Woolworths. Woolies will have a place in the heart of anyone who has at any point in their life, in however fleeting and hamfisted a way, toyed briefly with a life of crime. For who hasn't, ensconced in those august halls of a wintery early evening, not been tempted by the vast array of easily purloinable products never further than a lifted jumper away from being one's own? Happy days they were, sadly long gone, back then when one could while away hours - whole days, indeed - cramming armfuls of red vinyl Dickies singles and such like punder into a badly torn Tesco carrier bag, one's VERY presence in the store barely so much as flickering on the drowsy consciousness of the slumbering security guard. Innocent times, sadly gone forever with the ever deeper incursion into our privacy of the ubiquitous Orwellian surveillance cameras and those pesky paparazzi. It barely bears repeating to the poor, denuded youth of today, weened as they are on freezer bags of deep-fried Mars bar and WAP-enabled palm-top sonic digit crunchers, that they shall never know such times as those...Like those other joys of a seventies childhood - the three day week, power cuts and only three channels of unwatchable tripe to choose from on the goggle box (and 'Who Do You Do?), they'll just never understand, will they?
But perhaps there's a barely detectable silver-lining peeping through the dark clouds of economic downturn. If *Woolies* is going under, things *must* be bad - and that can only be good. Those vast warehouses where you could shoplift anything imaginable (so long as it was made of plastic. And by Pifco) - from barely fit for purpose picture hooks, to Lionel Ritchie embossed thermos flasks to the common or garden nut or bolt engineered with Soviet-style comic inefficiency not to fit with any other common or garden nut or bolt on the planet - have to be of use to *someone*, don't they? And, in the absence of an unlikely return to pre-eminence of Ratners or *yet* another Subway opening up, perhaps the Rotary Clubs Associations of the land could do worse than implement my own humble plan to turn the High Street round. It's a simple scheme and one that will not only give the retail sector a much needed shot in the arm, but also restore some sense of civic pride to our binge-drunk youth's vomit encrusted thoroughfares. Ladies and gentleman, I give you: the Charity Shop Mall!
That's right; glide in comfort through air conditioned splendour, from War on Want!, Saunter past the British Heart Foundation before swinging into the opulence that is the Princess Alice Hospice Megastore! Marvel (coo!) at the unspeakably bad tramp busker squeaking way interminably on his violin; now no longer a sodden figure of pathos beneath the dripping awning outside McDonalds but now transformed into a Christmas card image of joie de vivre and beaming like a retard as he saws away like a palsied hyena in the *comfort* and warmth* of the new arcade! Drool over those well stacked shelves of Jack Jones and James Last LPs! Choose your 3 for the price of two Alice Sebold novels at your salubrious leisure (you've got *two* *whole* *weeks* yet before you need to sign on!!!) Come on folks, you know it makes sense - dig deep friends, dig deep....FOR BRITAIN!!!
L.U.V. on y'all,