We have a big new Tesco in Filey, an aggressively signposted rectangular box sitting behind the bus station. It has already seen off the small local bakers that had been on the high street since the 1920’s and those shops which are left who are selling things that cost more than a pound are feeling the pinch. I only go into Tescos if they are selling something that I can’t get anywhere else in town. Filey is a small town and these things are noticed. I have even been known to carry a full bag of shopping round Tescos which has all been bought somewhere else. I have my principles and it’s also just a bit further to walk to get there which helps me stick to them.
This morning I didn’t need much, just some bacon and some vegetables for the pheasant casserole that I am cooking tonight. When I went into Adrian’s butchers I was greeted cheerfully. I asked if I could have four rashers of thick cut bacon, rashers not as thick as their bacon chops but thicker than their normal sliced bacon and a whole side of bacon was fetched out from the fridge at the back of the shop. Four rashers were carefully cut by hand from it and shown to me to make sure that they were all right. They were. Very much all right. We had a little chat about the casserole that they would be going into and the pheasant which I bought there the previous day and I went on my way.
Next stop the veg shop. Just potatoes and spring cabbage needed. I went to the back of the shop and chose my cabbage then had a look at the potatoes. The red skinned potatoes that I like if I am making mash were all bagged up in plastic bags and since I have to carry all my shopping back down a very long road I broke into a bag and got two large potatoes out. I have been told in the past that this is ok. The young woman who was serving gave me a look as she walked past to the till.
“We’ve started putting them in smaller bags so you don’t have to do that. The bags cost money.”
I was startled enough to respond.
“I don’t even want that many.”
She wasn’t happy.
“Or there are the loose ones.”
Now I wasn’t happy.
“But they’re not the same kind.”
She had made me nervous and my fingers fumbled as I tried to open the bag that I had got from the dispenser to put the two potatoes in. I was watched in silence. I thought she might be going to tell me that they were all potatoes, so what difference did it make, but she didn’t. The woman behind me in the queue at the till was frowning slightly now, she was either wishing that I would hurry up or thinking exactly the same as I was. I paid up. The spring cabbage and the two potatoes sat there on the counter. The young woman looked at me.
“Do you want a bag for those?”
“No thank you.”
I shook my head in disbelief and carried the potatoes and cabbage out under my arm.
If I had to place a bet on which of those two shops would still be there in a years time I think I know which one I would choose.