I remember

going with my mother to the shop,
Patterson’s as I recall,
where she would discuss
her requirements for the week
with the grocer, in particular
which fruit, which veg, which cheese.

Later the delivery boy, a term
rather than descriptive of his age,
would arrive on his black bicycle
with its square basket on the front,
carry the groceries into the house.

Today I go to the supermarket,
pick my own goods, often pre-wrapped,
from the shelves, put them through
an automated check-out, pay
my money to a machine
and carry my shopping home myself.

Explain to me why this is progress.



35 Responses to “I remember”

  1. Hi David, the only thing gained is the convenience of “not interacting” with someone else. But, I have found that some of the nicest people work at markets, and I have enjoyed many a day when we would stand and chat. I really love this write – Susan

    • belfastdavid Says:

      *Smile* Thank you Susan.

      It does seem sometimes to be harder and harder to find someone to talk to in the old-fashioned way – so many seem to be plugged in permanently to an electronic device!! And like you I enjoy the conversations which come along unplanned as part of my every day.
      Take care

  2. This was such a very pleasant poem, and I agree. It now sounds so luxurious to have all that!
    These memories, I think I can smell the shop! Onions and parsley combined with Sunlight soap and coffee?

    🙂 The sauerkraut barrel, that is what I remember best from a shop like that near our home. Bolmers the man was called.

    On the other hand: Nice for nostalgia, but the stock didn’t give much choice. The food was often on the other side of fresh. You always had to see if what you wanted, was there. Tomatoes were exotic.

    I happen to love those enormous supermarkets abroad 🙂 Wow!

    We were in a supermarket in Whitby (of all places), that also delivered home, even to our holiday cottage in Ruswarp (pronounced Rassap or something) Nice people helped packing the groceries into, alas, plastic bags. They don’t do that where I live.

    There still are small shops in England, like the butcher in Ruswarp so there must be some in Leeds too 🙂

    • belfastdavid Says:

      I guess Ina I may be looking back with rose-tinted glasses 🙂
      I think what I miss is that everyone seemed to have the time to stop and talk.

      I had forgotten the smell of Sunlight soap but that was there too 🙂 Although we did not have a “sauerkraut barrel”

      One of the sad facts of life in the England of today is that the small shops are gradually being forced out of business by the supermarket chains. It is almost impossible to find a good local bakery any more. Although there is one of those in Whitby come to think of it. 🙂

      Local village pubs are also disappearing fast but that is another story!!

      As are the plastic bags and fast food packaging which litter up our streets

      Hah! Enough! I am beginning to sound like Victor Meldrew 🙂

  3. ps it is Summertime, you need to change your settings maybe? 🙂

  4. Yes it is a pity those shops dissappear.
    We had two old spinsters, sisters, here when I was young, friends of my grandmothers. They had a candy shop. Now candy doesn’t make any profit, but anyway they made a living. They hardly ever went to the main land, but once they needed to take the first ferry in the morning. In order not to miss it, they decided to stay up all night, dressed and all. They fell asleep. Missed the ferry…

  5. And yes, if you are not carefull, you will start to look like that Viktor, I saw him on BBC. 😛

    You did the setting? How come your time here is 2 hours different from mine, it should be just one? It should be half past 8 overthere I think?

  6. Elaine Randall English Says:

    The older I get…the more I wish I could go backwards in time…..this bit of writing underscores that nostalgia very well….

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Ah yes Elaine,

      It seems like a much simpler time. And I miss the sense of community which was around then

  7. LOL Why indeed?? Loved this one; it took me back!!

  8. christine Says:

    I loved this as soon as you read it to me.

    It is really sad that we have almost lost the community spirit of yesteryear. There are little pockets of it when you meet a regular checkout person at the supermarket buy it’s not the same. We used to have two greengrocers and three bread shops in Guiseley, in the latter of which my children got to coose a free biscuit whenever we went there. Then there was a lovely shop called “This and That which sold everything!!

    Now Guiseley is full of Estate Agents and Building Societies. The path is a rather desolate place, I can almost see odd clumps of tumbleweed blowing along in the wind!!

    And ,Ina, I can remember Supa Bazooka Bubble Gum! When my children had it something had been put in to stiop it sticking, but I can remember having my face almost scrubbed off after I had blown a bubble which stuck to my face, nose included!! Maybe it wasn’t quite as good as we thought !

    I remember I used to sniff the box that the deliveries came in, a multitude of different smells all together making one wonderful one; I can almost smell it now!

    This has created a real sense of nostalgia David, thank you.

    Lots of love



    • 🙂 Christine, bazooka had the best flavour, better than Chickletts! I got it in my hair sometimes, it needed to be cut out lol.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      It is true Christine, we have changed the nature of our environment in a way that I find very sad.

      When I go back to Belfast and drive round the area where I grew up I find it difficult to recognise.

      And you are right we have changed the places such that they no longer feel safe to be in – I don’t remember desolate paths in my youth.

      Ah well………. 🙂

      Lots of love

  9. Amen to that, David – you’ve captured a sense so many of us have, yet feel powerless to do anything about. Sometimes I feel I was born ‘out of time’; so little of the world makes sense to me. And those automated check-outs drive me mad, too: next time one says ‘unexpected item in bagging area’ because I’ve had the temerity to use my own shopping bag, it’ll get an unexpected item (my size 10) in its voicebox, I swear.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      *Big Smile*

      I do find it strange Nick that we have arrived at this place without any of us saying “This is what we want”
      We only realise what we miss after it is gone and by then it is too late.

      Ah well, I shall now take my head back to the seaside and the beach 🙂

  10. Good question. Fine poem. Thank you for the pleasure of it.

  11. remember
    when we liked to think of the past
    but nothing’s there to last
    not even nostalgia

  12. David,

    I thought, before I read this, that it would be about all sorts of sensory delights. I thought you would include a lot of adjectives, descriptions of scents and textures. Then, I thought you had missed the mark. *smile*

    Then, I realized how clever you are to craft this poem in a way that allows the reader to experience the memories they have that stimulate individual sensory responses, without influence of your perception.

    For me, the old stores bring to mind scents of oiled floors, unwrapped stripped candy sticks in canisters, blood meats and whole baloney sliced while we watched instead of in a hidden back room. I loved walking on the uneven and dark wood floors, exploring shelves lined with every imaginable treasure–and none of it bagged in cheap plastic wrappers or stamped with bar codes! And…..we had never heard of Walmart!!!

    Then, of course, there were tattoos in the bubble gum and real treasures in the Cracker Jack. 🙂

    Much love,

    • belfastdavid Says:

      What a wonerful comment Shirley,

      Your description of those old stores is exactly what the poem was designed to evoke – I was in there with you and can just picture the delight on your face and the excitement you felt when you were in there 🙂

      Walmart and its ilk have a lot to answer for.

      Much love

  13. David, I haven’t a doubt in my mind that you know that is not progress. Progress in shopping is the expansion of our local markets here! 🙂 Ours is every Wednesday and the produce is all very local and excellent! You cannot beat the quality…

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