Wimbledon - A Celebration
automation taking the pleasure out of shopping?
Fare Rises - Should the Railways be Renationalised?
Re-enactment Events - Sanitising History?
2019 saw the 75th anniversary of D-Day whilst last year we commemorated the centenary of the end of the First World War - the war to end all wars.
What was the end of the war for France and Great Britain was also the beginning of a catastrophic disaster for Germany. The end of WWI changed the nation, ushering in the 1918 revolution that brought down the monarchy and installed the fractious, short-lived Weimar republic that led, ultimately, to the rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.
In Germany, the trauma and atrocities of World War II completely overshadow the Great War and in schools, teachers often regard the events of 1914-18 simply as a prelude to the much larger disaster to come.
Anti Semitism was very much in the news with the Labour party being embroiled in a row over the matter. There is also the rise in far-right political organisations across Europe, which to some have shades of Germany in the 1930's.
In August last year (2018) I came across a story of a Jewish lady who spoke of her fear after seeing people "dressed in SS officer uniform" at a living history event in Wiltshire.
She told The Sun newspaper she cried when she saw people in German military uniforms from the Second World War.
"It was fascist fetishism," she said. "People were posing with these 'soldiers'."
She said that this was a gruesome part of history that needed to be handled with care and there needs to be a duty of care to people attending these events.
"My descendants are from Europe, and although I don't know by name who perished, I am sure members of my family died in the Holocaust."
It seems that Nazi items were on sale at the West Wiltshire Military Vehicle Trust (MVT) event and an original Star of David arm patch Jews had to wear was on display. John Wardle, secretary of MVT, said there is nothing illegal about selling Nazi memorabilia.
has led me to think about World War 2 re-enactments in general.
These seem to be popular with a number of heritage steam railways
around the country. But do these events show the horror of living
through the war? Or is the story sanitised entertainment?
I will admit to some indirect personal experience. My father was brought up in Romford and experienced the Blitz - his home was bombed by a doodlebug and neighbours suffered casualties from these attacks. My late mother was German and narrowly escaped the bombing of Dresden in 1945.
A couple of years ago, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway barred a group who dress as German soldiers for its annual World War 2 re-enactment.
The decision not to include the Das Reich group came in response to negative publicity in the press. For the past 12 years, the railway station at Levisham, near Pickering, has been turned into 'Le Visham', a German-occupied town in northern France.
Neil Robertson, from the Das Reich group explained that the scenarios used were aimed at educating the public and were not intended to cause offence. The railway say their wartime events are to remember and pay our respects to the railway men and women who fought and lost their lives during WWII, recreating history through re-enactment.
However in their publicity for this year's event, they say:
"Over the three-day event families can hop on board steam and heritage diesel trains and relive the amazing spirit and camaraderie of World War II whilst enjoying various war-themed entertainment . . ."
I take exception to that description. World War II was not "war-themed entertainment" to be "enjoyed".
There may well have been "amazing spirit and camaraderie" but there was also fear and real loss of life.
So how to other heritage railways portray these kind of events?
The Severn Valley Railway, in publicity for their event this summer, say:
"We turn the clocks back to the 1940s with this light-hearted journey back to wartime Britain."
I somehow don't think the residents of Coventry who survived the bombing on the 14 November 1940 would say it was a time to be light-hearted. The operation that night involved 515 German bombers who intended to destroy the factories of Coventry in a single night. Such an operation could not be achieved without heavily hitting residential areas.
Marker flares were dropped in the first wave, followed by the discharge of high explosive bombs that shook the ancient city. That was followed by wave after wave of incendiary bombs. This created the perfect firestorm. Many of those who died, and there were mercifully few compared to the British bombing of Dresden in 1945, were asphyxiated - the lack of oxygen, smoke poisoning and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Severn Valley Railway's publicity continued:
"With a fantastic selection of daytime attractions up and down the line, get dressed up and join in with the celebrations with costumed re-enactors on our stations and in our trains helping to tell the wartime story!"
Amongst the numerous activities planned are Big Band Shows featuring 1940's music. But thinking back to Coventry, their line "The night is sure to go out with a bang . . . an air-raid is looming" is in my opinion rather insensitive.
What about other heritage railways?
The publicity on the Mid Hants Railway website for their "War On The Line" event in June says:
"Transport yourself back in time to the 1940s, against the backdrop of a Second World War railway, to experience the 'Blitz Spirit'.
"Enjoy unlimited train travel and mingle with civilian and military re-enactors, hop off at each station to explore period displays, music, dancing, vintage vehicles and stalls selling retro wares.
"Each station will provide visitors with a different experience of life in wartime Britain, from running an RAF plotting room, to dancing alongside ‘Now That’s Jive Company B’.
"At Ropley Station, visitors will also be able to undergo a 40s makeover at Pearl’s Pin-up Parlour . . ."
"War on the Line is as much about reliving this period as enjoying the rush of the steam engine."
I don't think anyone visiting will experience the 'Blitz Spirit'. I doubt my elderly relatives who survived the blitz in East London will say it was a time of music, dancing with GIs or having your hair styled. It was about surviving the demolition of your home, spending hours in a cramped air raid shelter and mourning lost family and friends. My grandmother took in an 8 year old orphan boy whose mother and siblings died when their home was bombed.
Yes, there was a blitz spirit but one of determination in the face of fear. Can the Mid Hants Railway really recreate that?
And to say ". . . come along to soak up the atmosphere, War on the Line promises to be a truly unique and memorable experience."
I would suggest that a line like that is disrespectful to those who survived, not least because they can't recreate the atmosphere.
In publicity for this year's 1940's Experience weekend, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway say:
"Inspired music and dance … Silk stockings and military machines … Men in uniforms and spivs doing deals – pure nostalgia!"
You can "Relive our ‘Finest Hour’ - Experience the exciting and most dangerous 1940s"
I'm not sure you can experience the horror of the true danger on the 1940's and this publicity for this event appears to glamorise the music, the clothes etc. I'm sure that's not the railway's intention but that is how it appears to me.
And then there was the unfortunate event on the Bluebell Railway in May 2009.
Their War on the Line event in May 2009, included the re-enactment of a summary execution of a German spy at Horsted Keynes station by British soldiers. It would appear for nothing more treasonable than carrying a bottle of beer. The Military Police corporal administered the shot to the back of the head.
I’m sorry? Was that re-enacting the past?
The definition for re-enactment, according to the Oxford Dictionary is:
This story was picked up by the national press including the Sun and led to quite a debate on social media. Comments on the railwayeye.blogspot.com website include these from people who thought this 're-enactment' was a worthwhile activity:
"I think it was all done in good taste, it certainly makes it more realistic."
"If people get offended by that then maybe we should outlaw all films showing such actions which mean historic footage of WW2 going into the bin etc..."
"I do think this was in good taste
as even children understand the concept of war, just that they
don't have a concept of how graphic it was. And as for the German
tourists etc. well they understand that a war happened between us
and them and it was resolved.
One correspondent thought these World War II events should be renamed '1940's weekend'
"You know, the music, the vintage vehicles, the trains, the posters everywhere, the dress, the 'rationing', air raid precautions, etc. All of that is what makes it a fun event!
"The military aspect - in my opinion - shouldn't really go further than a few 'home guard' patrols."
Others were not convinced by the event:
"Nostalgia is fine but this stuff is effectively ‘tabloid’ history and demeans those who fought for our freedom 70 years ago".
"What's the preservation movement come to? Summary executions as a form of family entertainment? Thank heaven no railway has a rake of cattle trucks otherwise we might see a 'tasteful' re-enactment of trains to... (deleted for reasons of taste)".
"As for this being 'a lesson to kids' - fantastic: we now have mock summary executions as a form of entertainment for children. It's a travesty of the truth, history and in poor taste."
"The British forces (even the irregulars like the Home Guard) would not have carried out summary executions if they had arrested a suspected spy".
"I find the whole idea of a 'family' event that is centered around the greatest loss of life in history to be idiotic in the extreme. These events should be remembered, yes, but not used as a money spinner for a heritage railway."
"Even though I agree that history should not be forgotten and that mistakes from our past should be remembered simply to learn from - there is a time and place for everything."
"I am certain that if anyone was there with very young kids they would have been outraged. I have a 5 year old and the last thing I would want to take him too is a mock execution. There seems to be a real lack of common sense here. In an age where knife and gun crime is starting to plague our youngsters do we really need to show kids maybe as young as 3 or 4 a 'mock' execution done for entertainment purposes?"
"Unlike certain other world powers at the time, the British were keen to ensure that the unwritten rules of warfare were followed. That's not to say that there weren't regrettable incidents (e.g. Bomber Command's targeting of the German civilian population)."
This last comment is well intended but I am not sure that accurate.
Bomber Command did bomb many residential areas in the Ruhr and other industrial areas of Northern Germany and these were not regrettable but deliberate attempts to destroy the munitions factories to reduce the Nazi's destructive capacity.
Even Dresden was not considered 'regrettable'. Whilst by February 1945 the end of the war was in sight, Bomber Command, under 'Bomber Harris' deliberately set out to destroy a beautiful city with no meaningful industry that contributed to the German war effort. The wisdom of this action is still debated to this day.
Many people see Churchill as the great war hero who stuck to the rules and 'fought for Britain'. But going back to the Coventry bombing of November 1940, there is the strong suspicion that Churchill and the Air Ministry knew in advance about the target and chose to keep it to themselves. The reason being to protect the Bletchley code breakers from German intelligence.
It has been suggested that he took the philosophical stance of utilitarianism, whereby the sacrifice of the few could be sanctioned in the name of the greater good.
With these thoughts in mind, I wonder whether the British were that keen to "ensure the unwritten rules of warfare were followed" or whether pragmatic decisions were taken to ensure victory?
I am not advocating that heritage railways should stop these World Ward II re-enactment events. They can be educational and give a younger generation a glimpse into that period of this country's history. Some railways do turn the spotlight on the war's unsung heroes and tell the story of the drivers and firemen driving trains loaded with hundreds of tons of munitions in black-out conditions through the night.
Many of these railway workers were civilians and their courage should be recognised. We should be telling the story of railwaymen like Benjamin Gimbert and James Nightall*. But alas this doesn't make a good show that can attract the punters.
The two world wars are a major part of our history. The Nazi's were particularly brutal and what they did to Jews and other 'undesirable' minorities was sickening and memorials such as the Auschwitz camp in Poland are a permanent reminder.
But that is not to say all Germans in the 1930's or even during World War I were bad or evil. I'm sure you know the story of Shindler's list and the danger this brave German put himself in to help and protect his Jewish workers at his factory. Other Germans had no choice but to join the army.
Well there was a choice - fight for the Nazis or take a bullet in the back of the head.
Against this backdrop of death and destruction on both sides, I find the World War II events on heritage railways do to a large extent trivialise history.
And, it would seem I am not alone. Newly-released National Archives files released last year for the planning for the 50th anniversary of the 1944 Normandy Landings were criticised by veterans groups as the government was planning "trivial entertainment" rather than sombre reflection. Sandcastle building and Spam fritter cooking contests were planned.
It wasn't just veterans who were unhappy. According to the released files, none other than Forces' Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn threatened to pull out of events for the D-Day anniversary in 1994.
I will leave the last word with the North Yorkshire Railway. In their guidance notes to re-enactors, they say:
"Please note that we do not allow anyone wearing German uniforms on any of our stations or trains. They are also not welcomed in the towns along the Railway. Please show consideration as we have many original veterans attending the event.
remember the reason we have the event is to remember and pay our
respects to the railway men and women who fought and lost their
lives during WWII, recreating history through re-enactment."
Gimbert and James Nightall were driving an ammunition
train (June 1944). As
they approached Soham station, Gimbert noticed the wagon behind the
engine was on fire. He made Nightall aware of it and stopped the train,
but by the time it had come to rest the wagon was enveloped in flames.
instructed Nightall to uncouple the rest of the train. Without
hesitation, he uncoupled the wagon, knowing full well it contained
explosives, and then rejoined the driver on the footplate. The blazing
wagon was close to the station building and Gimbert realised it was
essential to move it into the open.
He set the engine in motion and as he approached the signal box he
shouted to signalman to stop any trains that were due and indicated what
he intended to do.
He set the engine in motion and as he approached the signal box he
shouted to signalman to stop any trains that were due and indicated what
he intended to do.
that moment the bombs in the burning wagon exploded and a massive crater
some 20ft deep and 60ft wide was blown in the middle of the railway and
all the station buildings were destroyed.
As many as 600 buildings in Soham was damaged. Nightall was killed outright and Gimbert was severely injured. The signalman, Frank Bridges died later from his injuries.
Wimbledon - A Celebration
club was set up by supporters of the old Wimbledon FC back in 2002
when their club was moved from SW London to Milton Keynes.
what have AFC Wimbledon done that merits particular mention. They
are currently in League 1 and will play in this league again next
season. But the team that was taken to Milton Keynes back in 2002
and had also been in League 1 last season have been relegated to
the first time in the history of the club, AFC Wimbledon will be
playing in a league above MK Dons. This is particularly satisfying
to AFC Wimbledon fans that saw the club start in the low levels of
non league football and work their way up to their present
position – unlike MK Dons.
first let’s look at why the old Wimbledon FC moved.
FC was founded in 1889 and was based at Plough Lane from 1912 to
1991. During that time they moved from being a non league to one
of the founding members of the FA Premier League.
memorable success was the 1988 FA Cup Final when they beat the
League winners, Liverpool. They were known as the “Crazy Gang”
this being down to the boisterous and eccentric behaviour of the
In 1991, following the publication of the Taylor Report recommending all-seater grounds for top-flight clubs, Wimbledon left Plough Lane to groundshare with nearby Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Wimbledon FC "at home" at Selhurst Park against Manchester United - August 1996
This was supposed
to be a temporary arrangement while Wimbledon sought a new stadium
site in south-west London. With no tangible success, the club’s
Chairman, Sam Hammam proposed new locations for the team outside
London, including Dublin.
In 1997 Hammam
sold Wimbledon FC to two Norwegian businessmen, Kjell Inge Røkke
and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten and the following year the Plough Lane
site was sold for a supermarket redevelopment.
in Buckinghamshire, the Milton Keynes Development Corporation had
for a number of years planned a stadium in the town hosting
top-flight football and was keen on the idea of an established
League team relocating there.
In 2000 a
consortium led by Pete Winkelman proposed a large retail
development in Milton Keynes including a Football league-standard
stadium. Luton, Wimbledon, Barnet, Crystal Palace and Queens Park
Rangers were all approached to consider a move to Milton Keynes.
Charles Koppel was appointed chairman and in 2001 announced that
the team intended to relocate to Milton Keynes. Koppel said the
club would otherwise go out of business.
Such a proposal
was unprecedented in English football and the Football League
refused permission for the move. Koppel launched an appeal,
leading to an FA arbitration hearing and subsequently the
appointment of a three-man independent commission. In May 2002
this commission ruled in favour, two to one, for the move.
League and FA contributions were summarised in the commission’s
report as concerns that a relocated club would, in effect,
"drive a coach and horses through the pyramid
structure", "herald, or risk heralding, a franchise
system for football whereby the investors in football could
relocate clubs at will" and "dramatically change the
defining characteristics of the English domestic game where clubs
are identified with the locality or community built up over
its part, Wimbledon's statement centred on the club's precarious
financial situation and a claim that its case was unique. It
stressed that Wimbledon had lacked its own home stadium for 11
years. Milton Keynes was Wimbledon's "last chance of
their submission, they claimed that Wimbledon's
identity—"traditions, history, colours, name, strip,
stadium design and the like"—would be preserved in Milton
Keynes and supporters from London would be offered subsidised
travel and tickets.
the decision was made – which was to be final and binding, the
FA stated that it still strongly opposed the relocation. It
emphasised that its recommendation to the commissioners had been
against the move. The chief executive of the FA, Adam Crozier,
said that he believed the commission to have made an
spokesman for Milton Keynes Council said the people of Milton
Keynes were looking forward to the team's arrival, stating:
"It will be of great benefit to the city. Milton Keynes is
becoming a city of sport."
at all the above, firstly Milton Keynes is not a city and the
promise of keeping Wimbledon’s identity and offering fans
subsidised travel – well that never happened.
Keynes at that time had it’s own football team, Milton Keynes
City, a non league team which, with the right support and
injection of capital, could have risen through the football
pyramid to achieve league status but Pete Winkleman’s consortium
preferred to buy a league place rather than develop a home grown
Keynes City FC was subsequently wound up.
the FA said at the time, if a club breaks links with its community
and moves to a new community with a new identity and yet won’t
relinquish its place in the pyramid such a move would have a
fundamental impact on the way football is organised.
So in May 2002
what could fans of Wimbledon FC do?
birth of AFC Wimbledon
The three man
commission in its report said that "resurrecting the club
from its ashes as, say, 'Wimbledon Town'" would be "not
in the wider interests of football.”
So were the fans
to trek up the M1 to Milton Keynes? No way!
FA's announcement of their decision, a group of Wimbledon
supporters led by Kris Stewart and fellow founding members Marc
Jones and Trevor Williams met in The Fox and Grapes pub on
Wimbledon Common to plan what was to be done next as part of the
It was agreed
that, as there was no right of appeal, the only option was to
start the club again from scratch. On 30 May 2002 the idea was put
forward in a Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association meeting
to create a new community-based club named AFC Wimbledon
and an appeal for funds was launched.
On 13 June 2002,
a new manager, a playing strip and badge, based on that of the
original Wimbledon FC, and a stadium were unveiled to fans and the
media at the packed-out Wimbledon Community Centre.
In order to
assemble a competitive team at very short notice, AFC Wimbledon
held player trials on 29 June 2002 on Wimbledon Common, open to
any unattached player who felt he was good enough to try out for
The event attracted 230 hopeful players, from whom the club's
squad for their inaugural season was eventually chosen.
In the 2002–03
season, AFC Wimbledon competed in the Combined Counties League
Premier Division under the management of former Wimbledon FC
player Terry Eames.
Their first ever
game, a pre-season friendly against Sutton United on 10 July 2002,
resulted in a 4–0 loss in front of a crowd of 4,657
competitive match in the CCL was away to Sandhurst Town where
around 1500 supporters cheered their team to a 2-1 victory.
I’m proud to
say I was there – standing on hay bales to get a good view. This
venue was very different from Selhurst Park or even Plough Lane
and to me demonstrated the delights of non league football.
demise of Wimbledon FC and the creation of MK Dons
Wimbledon FC started the season at Selhurst Park due to a lack of
a suitable ground in Milton Keynes that met the Football League
attendance at Selhurst Park was officially announced as 2,476,
including 1,808 from Gillingham. AFC Wimbledon claimed an average
crowd of over 3,700 during its first months, while Wimbledon FC attracted less than 3,000, most of whom were followers of visiting
relocation was delayed for over a year and in June 2003 the club
went into administration.
had not intended to own Wimbledon FC
himself. His plan had been
to work alongside it while the new stadium was built, and then
give the ground to the club in exchange for shares and a place on
the board. He had not expected it to go into administration. With
the move threatened and the club facing liquidation, he made the
decision to take it on himself.
He secured funds
from his consortium for the administrators to pay the players'
wages, keep the club operating, and pay for the necessary
renovations for the National Hockey Stadium to host League
football. He made clear that his group's interest was conditional
on the club moving to Milton Keynes.
Winkelman's consortium injected funds to keep it operating and
paid for the renovation of the National Hockey Stadium in Milton
Keynes, where the team played its first match in September 2003.
MK Group bought the relocated club in 2004 and concurrently
changed its name, badge and colours. The team's new ground,
Stadium MK, opened three years later.
Milton Keynes City FC went out of business before the start of
the season following an unsuccessful drive for new directors and
ups and downs of the two clubs
how have the two teams faired.
AFC Wimbledon had 6 promotions since 2002. 5 of these were over a 9 year period which saw them climb from the lowly Combined Counties League and get into the Football League.
They have played in
League 2 before their final promotion to League 1 after the
In contrast, MK
Dons had 2 promotions and 3 relegations. They started off in
League 1 and now back in League 2
year, the MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman says it has been
"an absolutely horrible year" for the club but insists
he still has work to do before seeking investment.
has led the Dons since they were founded in 2004 and says the club
has lost him £3m in the past year.
told the BBC in an interview that: "To be going backwards,
it's terrible and it wasn't supposed to happen. I'll be honest, I
am worried - this is absolutely not where we wanted to be, it's
not where we can be."
told BBC Three Counties Radio that he wanted "to apologise to
our supporters and the city of Milton Keynes - this is not what we
thought going down from the Championship was bad. To be in this
position is just unthinkable. None of us planned or expected. It
is probably the worst ever thing that has happened."
Meanwhile what of
the spiritual home of Wimbledon - Plough Lane?
The old stadium
was demolished and is now the site for a housing complex.
The site of the old Plough Lane ground.
In December 2017,
AFC Wimbledon was granted permission to begin work on constructing
a new 11,000-seater stadium (which could be expanded to hold up to
20,000 in the future) on the site of Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium.
The new ground will be only 250 yards away from the original
Plough Lane, Wimbledon's home from 1912 until 1991.
moral of the story
decision by the commission to allow Wimbledon FC to relocate, the
Football Association changed their rules to ensure such a
situation does not happen in the future.
MK Dons could
have supported MK City (which was subsequently closed), but
instead bought a club and a league place. Did MK Dons earn their
place in the Football League? Many would argue not.
Wimbledon who earned their place in the League 1 after starting in
level 9 of the football pyramid.
And that is why AFC Wimbledon fans have a smile on their faces.
centre piece of IBM’s shop of the future are the self-service
checkouts. The technology allows large numbers of items to be
scanned at once. It does this as each shopping item has a tiny
“radio frequency identification” chip embedded in it. This
system could make the traditional barcodes obsolete as the chip
contains much more information.
customer places their items on a scanning platform, which displays
the full list on a screen. They open a smartphone app and tap the
device on a reader to deduct payment from an account linked to a
card app, such as Apple Pay or Android Pay, and are then emailed a
the London Evening Standard review here)
trial comes as Amazon opens
its first supermarket without checkouts whether human operated or
Go, as it's called, has been tested by staff for the past year
uses an array of ceiling-mounted cameras to identify each customer
and track what items they select, eliminating the need for
billing. Before entering, shoppers must scan the Amazon Go
smartphone app. Sensors on the shelves add items to the bill as
customers pick them up - and deletes any they put back. Purchases
are billed to customers' credit cards when they leave the store.
makes the dreaded supermarket queue a thing of the past and will
no doubt give any retailer a huge advantage over its competitors.
think these are great advances with technology. It means I can buy
my pint of milk or loaf of bread without having to speak to a
human - something I don't want to do when I'm in a hurry.
British Retail Consortium said it was important for shops to be
welcoming for everyone and warned that automated checkouts could
add to loneliness and isolation among the elderly.
Ambrosi, a spokesman from Anchor said, "There was a time when
people knew their shopkeepers and could pass the time of day. You
can't do that with a machine."
study by the charity suggests 24% of older people are deterred
from shopping by automated checkouts. It means they can have gone
shopping without having said 'hello' to a single person - and
that, according to Mr Ambrosi, can be quite a miserable
this week fears that robots could take the jobs of humans may be
premature after Britain’s first cyborg shop assistant was sacked
after a week of confusing customers.
an experiment run by Heriot-Watt University, the Scottish
supermarket chain Margiotta was asked to trial ‘ShopBot’, who
they affectionately named ‘Fabio’. Fabio was programmed with
directions to hundreds of items in the company’s Edinburgh store
and initially charmed customers with his ‘hello gorgeous’
greeting, playful high fives, jokes and offers of hugs.
within just a few days, the robot was demoted after giving
unhelpful advice such as ‘it’s in the alcohol section’ when
asked where to find beer. Banished to an aisle where he was only
allowed to offer samples of pulled pork, Fabio started to alarm
customers who went out of their way to avoid him.
human staff managed to tempt 12 customers to try the meat every 15
minutes, Fabio only managed two.
supermarket owner, Luisa Margiotta, soon realised the robot was
actually putting off shoppers. Ironically, when they packed up
Fabio to send it back to the lab, some staff were reduced to
tears! Dr Oliver Lemon, director of the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt,
admits he was surprised by the reaction his invention got. He
admitted that one of the things they didn't expect was the people
working in the shop becoming quite attached to it.
will robots replace shop workers in the future? Luisa Margiotta
was sceptical. She said: “We find our customers love a personal
interaction and speaking to our staff is a big part of that.
staff members know our regulars very well and can have
conversations on a daily a basis, and I doubt robots would be able
to fulfil this."
comment I saw on twitter suggested that staff at their local
corner shop were willing to chat, have a laugh and a joke and talk
about things with the customer and whilst prices were a bit more
than at a supermarket, the experience is far better and it makes
life a little more fun.
I want a conversation, I'll go down to my local.
I will admit I do fall in the "older person" bracket. I
have my bus pass. But I get so frustrated standing in a check out
queue wasting time waiting for dithering pensioners idly
gossiping, loading their shopping into their bags before fumbling
for a purse and counting out their cash. And when they have paid
they still carry on chatting to the checkout attendant.
I may be accused of being a miserable old sod but I say thank
goodness for self service technology!
what is the answer?
of us work for a living and only get an hour for lunch or a couple
of days off a week, I would suggest that supermarkets offer a 5%
discount on items bought by pensioners, or those who want a chat,
between 9:30 and 11:30 on weekday mornings.
what about checkout aisles specifically for those who want to stop
and chat? A kind of slow lane?
compromise is to have three types of checkouts. The self service
for those in a hurry and are only buying a couple of items. An
attended checkout for those with a larger shop but still limited
with time and a "slow" checkout for those who want to
"have a chat".
I know which one I would use.
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