Sunday, 28 December 2008
The Hunting Season
I have been out and about in the freezing weather that now envelopes most of Western Europe, and also here in London post Christmas Day. These 'in-between' days coming up to the year's end are often a time of personal reflection, an introspection of sorts, reflecting on the past year and what's to come. The onslaught of dire economic news coming out of the media almost on a daily basis has made me switch off the telly for a few days, turning instead to plying the streets with camera in hand.
I like walking the streets of London, or any city for that matter. I find it therapeutic and the encounters are interesting for eye and camera alike. For the task in hand I carried my Ricoh GRD2 set to 1:1 format.
Mind you, the great London sales have begun earnestly, on Christmas Day actually, to tempt one to make a purchase, any purchase by the ever shrinking value of the pound, which has incidentally, brought an influx of Europeans over to the shops here.
You will hear Italian and Spanish and a smattering of Americanism on the streets. Window sales signs of up to 70% price slash is now a common sight in most High Street store fronts. The bargain hunters are out for a final splash before mulling over the spend receipts in the new year.
I walked along fashionably conscious King's Road yesterday and noticed the crowd was less, no more jostling amongst shoppers in the frenzy. Turned left by Peter Jones into Sloane Street where the designers have their trendy outlets.
The Christmas lights seemed dimmer but no less grand this year. Passing by Gucci, I noticed there was a significantly long queue of smartly dressed customers waiting patiently in line in 2C temperature. Ahh, even Gucci's on sale. The doormen must be limiting entry into the store for fear of a riot of Amex-wielding shoppers perhaps running amok inside the posh store.
Early in the day I went down to Portobello Road, in Notting Hill for a stroll combined with coffee and croissant. It was also less busy than any usual Saturday morning but the overpriced antique stalls are still there. I walked into the Woolworth's there and contrasting with the Gucci on Sloane Street, there was also a queue but it was store clearing rather than bargain hunting. The Woolworth stores nationwide are finally biting the dust. They are closing. After over 100 years of being in the High Streets of practically every town and city in this country, there will be no more pick 'n' mixes, no more music CDs, and bargain stationery, no more Woolies.
This particular store was clearing out the shelves, even these are for sale. By next week, it will be shut. And many other High Street chains will follow Woolworths and the list is growing longer day by day. MFI, Whittard's of Chelsea, Zavvi, Adams.
What will 2009 bring? A lot depends on one's personal outlook. New opportunities will emerge, where old one dies. A new beginning or a closure?