17.6.09 | Supermarket Songs and Stories

Some things never change, or change so slowly and subtly that we may live all our lives without seeing that our parents faces are not so radiant and joyful as they once were, but instead lined and careworn and tired from a lifetime of troubles, or the tiny seed we planted all of 30 summers ago, has grown proud and tall with many roots and branches, leaves and twigs. Swaying and bending to the masterful wind, it harbours a whole mini-ecosystem of it's own within the wider world. Often we only notice it when it is broken and thrown to the ground, usually by human vandals. Or disease takes it and withers. I suspect humanity has an inadvertent uncaring hand in that, too. Or you can blame God if you want, but i have it on good knowledge that God gave us free will and is probably wondering why we're wasting it all on shopping and indolence.

Some things never change. Take Harle Syke, where i was born and live. Perched on a tall hill overlooking the town of Burnley, on a clear day you can see halfway to Manchester. If you venture to the top of the hill and Haggate, you can see Nelson and perhaps Colne too, and stretching for mile upon mile eastwards, the bleak and beautiful moors that divide Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Every day, the sun rises from behind the hill and moorland, and sets far, far to the west beyond Crown Point. The milkman delivers at 5:30 in the morning, the postman a few hours later. The blackbird sings from the telegraph pole, the starling mimics from the rooftops and the hoary old rooks leave their roost in pairs on their long days of foraging to return as the sun sets. The road through the centre of Harle Syke has now been there for centuries and may well last for a couple more... except perhaps not. As i muse on this blog posting, i think how much my large cotton-mill village has changed over the past 30 years.

As a child, i watched the green fields between the village and Burnley be eaten up by twisting, turning mazes of housing. We're now to all intents and purposes, a suburb. The thrumming cotton mill's have grown silent with their many proud chimneys reduced to two. Neither of which are in use any more, save as memento's of the past. The things which make the place a community are dwindling fast. I remember at least two bakeries, 2 newsagents, 2 butchers, 2 chip shops, 3 grocers, 1 greengrocer, 1 off-license, a haberdashery, 2 hair-dressers, a post office, a bank, a bookmakers, an ironmongers, 2 butchers, a chemist and 3 very exciting sweet shops selling a variety of kayli (you know, the flavoured sugar/sherbert stuff) and goodness knows what else in glass jars, but it all seemed yummy to eat (and well, they seemed to be sweet shops... as a child you don't really look at the other stuff much.)

Then the super-markets came... and out of town shopping. Things designed to make lives convenient and easy. From the local Spar shop which tries to sell everything to the 3 great super-markets that have enclosed Burnley in a vice-like death-grip.

Harle Syke now has, 1 butcher, 2 hair-dressers, 1 newsagent, 1 chip shop, 1 chemist and a sandwich shop, oh and a kebab/curry shop which i never visit as i'm not a big fan of Indian cuisine alas, with everything else being hoovered up by The Spar. All the little shops with their bustling shoppers passing the time and getting to know one another have long since gone. There's no reason to walk down certain streets now, and no need to meet people. I don't know hardly any of the people on my street any more. They get out of their front door and jump into their cars and they're gone. If you're lucky, you might get a wave and a hello.

Harle Syke feels like a macrocosm of Burnley, which is suffering the same malady that blights the rest of my country.


Since a Tesco's opened near the bus station, the town centre has been trapped within a Bermuda Triangle of doom (Tesco's, Sainsbury's and Asda) for the small shop-keep. The recession and rules on smoking in bars plus the violence of the mememe youth generation will make it like a ghost town within the next decade i think. And everyone's too apathetic to try and stop it.

Everywhere i look ,there are To-Let signs up on shops, and the new ones are quickly fleeced into receivership or bankruptcy by landlords pushing rents through the roof, even in the midst of recession. Or by lack of customers... fine products won't save you here. The Super-Markets want to sell everything.

Even Woolworths, which is at the very centre of our town has died.

Late one evening in February, i had cause to be walking from here to there behind the back of the shopping precinct. There's a kind of underground car park there, that touches the back of Woolworths.

I stopped a moment and listened to the tannoy that plays music all night long, and it seemed to me as i stood there, that i heard the echoing ghost voices of all the dead shops and the once-mighty Woolworth's store, hearking back to happier days when people once bought their wares and filled the town with life and warmth. Hopeful and sad all at once. I'm not sure of the song... but i think i would have liked it to be the one i link below.

I turned away and for the first time in my life, wished that i lived anywhere else in the universe, than this town and this country that unravels and twists slowly into a parody of itself and feels like a prison. One we all entered willingly into.


  12:57 am :. Blogger {illyria} hollered thusly:

that was beautiful and eloquent and real. i love it.

  1:29 pm :. Blogger The Saturnyne hollered thusly:


I should send you prezzies for being so awesome!


  4:07 am :. Blogger dr.v (Not a narcotic Pez dispenser) hollered thusly:

You have the power to fly....so....why don't you

why don't you

  11:42 pm :. Anonymous Sian hollered thusly:


this is my blog. It's Sian, btw. x

  3:34 am :. Blogger LiVEwiRe hollered thusly:

I come to say hi and no one seems to be able to come out and play. Such is my crappy timing. Hope all is well! xoxo

  2:53 pm :. Blogger carlberry hollered thusly:

Don't know if even you check this anymore Satty but just in case have you seen this ?

Lil Cthulh

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