Woolworths has gone and Marks and Spencers like many other companies are in trouble as we sink deeper into the worst manufacturing slump experienced for nearly thirty years. As a result of the cut backs the number of people employed in manufacturing has fallen to a record low of 2.8 million.

Every time we listen to the news or open a newspaper that is the kind of report we are faced with. Of course it is all blamed on the credit crunch with the buck being passed down to the ordinary man on the street who, through his greed and demand for everything available is accused of creating this situation. Perhaps we should just stop and remember the cuts suffered by our manufacturing industries over the last thirty years.

Shipbuilding, Mining, Car Industries to name but a few. Those cut backs were made at a time, when for many reasons, our population was increasing faster than ever before. Although many of the newcomers fulfilled the roles of professional and skilled workers, a great many were brought in as cheap labour.

Excuses for that predicament were made by the ‘Powers That Be’ who then decided to adjust the balance and maintain the demand for goods in the High Street and boost the building industry by releasing money on loan to almost anyone who asked for it. People were reassured by incessant messages, conveyed through the Media, implying how their financial problems might all be solved if they invested in the Lottery.

Did You Know?

Woolworths were one of the first large stores to spread, not only to all the major Towns and Cities in this Country but across the World. People from the rural areas visiting for a days shopping would never dream of going home before they had looked round ‘Woolies’.

In those early days nothing in the store was priced at more than sixpence and it was all ‘over the counter’ service. The young lady assistants, all dressed in red uniforms and invariably made up with bright red lipstick and rouge, stood between long sloping counters where all kinds of goods were on display. Each of the large stores had their own particular appeal, specialising in the individual needs of certain sections of the community.

They all catered for those little luxuries people looked for when they could afford them. Everyone bought their day-to-day necessities from their local shops where they could often leave their order and the goods would be delivered within an hour or two. Usually by an errand boy riding a trade bicycle that had a carrier fixed over the front mudguard and the shop’s name and details clearly visible on a panel under the crossbar. In such cases the customer would call in a few days later or sometimes just once a week and settle their account.

How simple that sounds compared to today’s routine for the weekly shop at the Supermarket. This often involves both wife and partner and sometimes their young children. Armed with a long list and credit cards they proceed to push a large trolley up and down the aisles and fill it with the items they want [as well as some they don’t]. At least they have some consolation, they no longer have to take their jug to the dairy every day to get fresh milk. Nor do they have to be sure to catch the baker and other tradesmen when they call on their rounds.

Times have changed dramatically. Small stores and shops as we knew them have had to adjust in order to keep up with modern Society and unfortunately, matters seem to have been taken out of their hands leaving them with no way to compete.

The Supermarkets and large stores have become so numerous that, not only have they forced most of the small shops in the high street to close, they are now in the process of trying to put each other out of business. So shouldn’t some of the responsibility for the mess we are in be assigned to their greed? If one of them was so successful it managed to take all the custom from its competitors, consumers might [for a time] have the cheapest goods but they would be left with no choice at all.

Wasn’t it so much better when we had specialist shops for each kind of goods with someone on hand to guide us when we needed advice or had a decision to make? — Of course there was never such a large selection of goods to choose from. Nor was fresh food ever available out of Season: — But is that really so important? There was something special about waiting for the new potatoes, carrots and that first mess of peas off the allotment. They always had so much more flavour.

We can’t turn the clock back but there must be something better than the fiasco we are experiencing now. It appears that everything we do has to be done in such a way that it raises our stress levels. As a Nation we have more than any generation that has gone before us. Yet we are repeatedly told that our lifestyle is all wrong: — Our diet is made up of too little of this or too much of that: — We eat too often or not regularly enough: — We don’t relax or we’re too lazy: — Whichever way we go it seems to be bad for our heart and that raises all kinds of concerns.

So what can we individuals do? Perhaps we should just relax, enjoy what we have and not expect anything for nothing so we cannot be disappointed. When the rich see that their fortunes are under threat things will soon change and you can be sure our accepted way of life will adapt to any new conditions put on it: — Just as it always has in the past.

valley lad – [SIXTYONE]