Was sitting in bed this morning and for some unknown reason I started thinking about the street in Caerffili where my grandmother used to live. I recalled that in her street alone there were several shops. A general grocer, a butcher and a fruit shop (as I recall). Then I started spreading my mind out more and remembered that nearly every street had at least one small shop along it somewhere.

Over the years more and more have closed and more and more supermarkets etc have opened. Yet the shop fronts remain.

I’m sure this wasn’t by any means a local phenomenon, but maybe it feels more ‘personal’ because I obviously knew a lot of the people who used to run them. One of the sad things is that I really don’t remember any of them closing… one day they were there… and then they were gone and I never even noticed.

With them went an entire way of life based around ‘neighbourhood’ and the close feelings of friendliness and safety you’d get knowing everyone and their dog. Got to be honest, I really do quite miss those old days now. For a small boy at least it was a time of innocence and play… endless summers, frog spawn and fun.

Maybe in part it was because nobody seemed to have more than anyone else, and we all mucked in together. Having said that my father was remarkable well paid for the times and we were far better off financially than most of the people around us.

We have some good times back then and of course they’re gone forever. Yet… it’s the corner shops I miss most. Maybe they have become a symbol of the soulless ‘post-industrial’ society we’ve developed and I have to wonder if it really was a change for the better?

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