Friday, 6 May 2011

The hand that rocks the Tesco...

It was over a year ago since my dalliance with the Bristol Tesco protests. It happened on a rather glorious day in March - back then it was more of a civilised eviction, with horses, police and cranes. Despite the protesters being removed successfully, losing their squat and most probably being booked by the police, the publicity coverage over the plight must have impacted Tesco's PR department. In turn becoming a figurehead for anti-capitalists and activists to throw darts (or more recently petrol bombs and art works) at.

Tesco Value Petrol Bomb, by Banksy, I love the Daily Mails spin, made me laugh out loud

It's a not-so-modern dilemma that beseeches my generation, one of capitalism, monopolisation, aggressive expansion. Its impact is one that could potentially change our urban landscape, replacing communities with retail parks, shopping centres, lining the pockets of a few rather than spreading the wealth more evenly. I grew up in a new town, built over an old town, Telford was born in the 1960s, it's town centre - a giant indoor shopping centre. The old town, Wellington - where fortunately I spent majority of my childhood - a medieval market town. Evolving slowly over time, next to a Roman road, which led from Holyhead (North Wales coast) to the River Thames in London, such history and inspiration. It bore the marks of time, narrow streets, Tudor buildings, town square, however has become more shabby since. Many have closed their doors as the supermarkets moved in, vacant spaces, now home to charity shops and discount frozen food stores. When I think back to the richness of my youth I recount with longing the focaccias hand made daily by the grumpy Italian in the kitchen of Sidolis; Chelsea buns bought with tuck money from the kindly bakers with the dickensian square glass frontage; pic and mix sweets from the market as a Saturday treat, coconut wheels and peanut brittle; saving and savouring every Christmas present bought for my family from Woolworths and little homely shops. Not discounting the joy of a McDonalds happy meal at Telford Town Centre or shoplifting in C&A. I think I learnt more about interaction with adults from the independent shops that knew their customers and were able to impart some of their personality on you. The richness that life provides is never going to be found in endless trips to giant Tesco's. Yet it is our own hand that leads us there, the anti-movement comes from our choices. It is difficult to pay more, make life more laborious, make several trips to different stores, but if we are to support each other, encourage our communities to care then we must.

In New York they have food co-operatives, where customers become members and contribute their time, usually three hours a month - in turn they can to shop in the store buying food with considerably lower mark ups.

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