Shops and places

Seeing this article reminded me never to shop in Kensington or Chelsea (the smallest kind of inconvenience for me, as I avoid London like the plague).

I do very little shopping in my nearest city, Cambridge, either, also for reasons connected with local government. In 1970 a thriving central area of largely medieval buildings was redeveloped into the horrific “Lion Yard” concrete shopping centre full of trashy chain-stores; there were rumours at the time of corruption behind the granting of planning permission.

Then in 1980, an area of small buildings that could have been refurbished was demolished (against massive local opposition) and replaced by another monstrous moron-magnet, the Grafton Centre.

They never learn, at heart; now an area of old shops has been replaced by another environment for the mindless, the “Grand Arcade”. I think `they’ have realized the unpopularity of their actions, as this latest development has preserved the original facade. By now, I don’t think there are any rumours of corruption; the City and County councils seem to be enthusiastic about things that they might once have had to be bribed to tolerate.

I can’t help wondering what the next piece of local architectural heritage will next be demolished and replaced with something that will squeeze money from the naive more efficiently.

So, I boycott Cambridge’s central shopping facilities (and encourage others to do likewise; I sometimes wonder about setting up a website helping people to find equivalent or better shops away from the city centre). In fact, I find the whole area unpleasant, unless I can get in and out again before the crowds arrive for the day. At least the bike bans seem to have been reduced; I don’t like pedestrian areas, even when walking, because of idiots blundering into my path. When there is wheeled traffic (whether motorized or not) pedestrians are pushed into looking where they’re going. I think that’s a good thing, and not too much to ask, but evidently many have difficulty with it.

More and more, I’m doing my shopping online these days. When I started to do this, I used Amazon a lot, but I’ve never been comfortable about that (as they have a patent I consider inappropriately granted, the `one-click’ patent), and I’ve moved more to eBay and independents; and am currently happy with Ocado as my online food shopping service, although I don’t have specific loyalty to them.


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