Savvy womens Magazine


Off My Patch!

The gloves are off, the fight has begun: to shop or not to shop. It's not the more obvious high street competition: Primark vs. Topshop vs. H&M ' this clash is over half a dozen eggs.

By Maggie from London



Hi Lulu,

Pensioners carrying placards, mums with bundled babies and banners; it's a proper revolution. The populace protests: they don't want massive supermarkets to mess with them. How ironic then that archaeologists have recently unearthed ruins in the Peruvian Andes that seem to prove the modern supermarket is 4000 years old. Quite a long shelf life.

Giants like the evil Asda, owned by the even more malevolent Wal-Mart, originally set the precedent for cheap and cheerful food in the UK. Before they arrived in enormous trucks in the middle of the night, it was 'Good morning, Mr Butcher,' 'How are you today Mr Fish Monger?', 'Well, hello Mrs Off License.'

Now, it's all veggies strangled by plastic wrap, cereal boxes the size of small children, cheese from China in vast, fluorescent do-my-pores-look-big-in-here? lit environments. And, no matter how seductive 3 for 2 offers might be, the people are furious that local shops are being pushed out by the big chains and their high streets are interchangeable. 'London, Manchester? Where am I?'

As it happens, the anarchists have a persuasive point. The local high street has gone generic; all chain stores, no hint of local creativity, individuality. GAP shops interspersed with Starbucks'hardly inspired.

The citizenry of France are willing to die (hopefully not to kill) to protect the right to buy locally, pick axes in hand. The British are a bit more subdued. They are also a bit embarrassed to wake the farmer when they want their 54p half dozen free-range eggs 24 hours a day and night.

While the French are clinging onto the 19th century and create chaos in Belgium, the food fuss carries on here.

Brits want their food ecologically friendly, fresh, fair-traded, of high quality and affordable. To be fair, the British are spoilt for choice: organic at weekly farmers' markets, in huge supermarket chains, in solely organic shops, on their own allotments ' plus big shops, express shops, local shops, specialty shops, medium-sized shops, food shops in department stores.

The obvious solution seems to be let the behemoths live, but let specifically specialising shops flourish.

Personally, I just shop on Portobello Road where I can pretend to speak French to the cheese guys, am called 'Luv' by the flower lady, chat with the sweets seller, hand over 50p for 10 lemons and '1 for a pineapple and buy a new pair of over-the-knee stripy socks.

Yet, even the 300-year-old market is being threatened by chain store mania; I must search for my Tesco club card now'.

Let's hope we have some sort of resolution soon; Easter is right around the corner and where will the egg-confused be? In Tesco's at 3 am searching the 27 blindingly bright aisles for food colouring?


Maggie xx

About the Author:
Maggie is from Manhattan, where she was a painter, then designer of clothing, objects, textiles, interiors while writing for various publications and her own webzine. She is permanently based in London, the city of irony, from where she writes regularly to her gal pal Lulu in New York.  

You can read her amusing tales about London's daily life, people, current events, politics, fashion and culture at her website

Read more of Maggie's stories to her gal pal Lulu at Letters from London