Friday, 26 February 2010

The One That Wishes They Would Mind Their Own Business. . .

At the end of my road is an old fashioned greengrocer's shop. If this were an Enid Blyton story it would be run by a cheery, ruddy-faced old man in glasses with a big green apron. But this isn't an Enid Blyton storybook, it's 21st century Britain.

This means that my greengrocer's is run by a Bangladeshi couple. These Bangladeshis are people we want in this country. They are hard working, considerate and very pleasant people. Their shop opens at 8 (at the latest) and closes at 7 (at the earliest), their stock is fresh and (excluding the ingredients used in their ethnically specific cuisine) locally sourced. It is fairly priced and I know that when I go there I will get a friendly reception and will walk out with exactly what I want. My life is infinitely better for having this shop at the end of my road, especially since they started selling cigarettes.

Next to the greengrocers is a newsagent. This is run by a national chain and is staffed by a seemingly perpetual rotation of disinterested, rude, ignorant white school leavers who I doubt can spell their own names.

The difference between the two shops is remarkable. The newsagents are more expensive. The newsagents will open at 8ish (at the earliest) and will close at 5.30ish (at the very latest). There are no smiles, no good mornings, just a vacant stare and a 'what'? Lord knows how much stock they lose as you often have to shout in the direction of the door to the stock room to get the shuffling idiot out to serve you. You could walk out with £100's in stock, they wouldn't notice, nor I suspect care. I'm especially pleased that the greengrocer has started selling cigarettes as they are 10p a packet cheaper, and don't use a till with a CCTV camera attached which shows you it taking a still photo of you buying any age restricted item, this is probably then stored on the till's hard disk to be uploaded to some gummint website showing social undesirables. Doubtless it's for my security, but I don't like it, so now the only thing I bought in there is sold cheaper elsewhere, I don't go in there any more.

Strange, isn't it? I speak the same language as the people in my newsagents (the couple at the greengrocer are 1st generation, they speak English, but you have to listen hard and concentrate) and have more in common with them culturally than the Bangladeshis. Yet, because of the sort of people they are and their work ethic and business manner, I'd much rather put my money in the Bangladeshi till.

This is not some ringing endorsement of muli-culturalism. This isn't me proclaiming to the world that I am a glorious non-racist. Multi-culturalism is bunk, as the Levellers sang, there's only one way of life, and that's your own. Someone's skin colour and religion is as important to me as their eye colour or choice of footwear. Not hurting anyone? Carry on.

It's great here, it's like living in a little village where everyone helps out and looks out for each other and not a government advisor or leafelet in sight.

My community likes the Bangladeshis. The psychiatrist that lives next door to me uses them, as do the Brazilians that live on the other side. The Bangladeshis will go over the road to the chip shop run by the Greeks to get change, and the Greeks will go to the barbers run by the Iraqi Kurds to get their hair cut, the Iraqi Kurds will go the white butcher who orders in halal meat for them and others like them. Does the butcher do this because it is the nice multi-cultural thing to do? No. He does it because there is a gap in the market and he can make money out of it.

The Righteous would probably be up in arms, the nasty white man exploiting the religious sensibilities of the Muslims to make money. But the butcher isn't the villain of the day. There's worse, there's much, much worse.

It's the Bangladeshis.

They've come into this country and have neither sought nor taken any help from the State and their righteous minions. These graceless newcomers have set up business, learned the language, inserted themselves right in the middle of the community all by themselves. And they regularly lambast this government and local council.

Not only that, but now they want to do more. They want to expand, they want to make more money. This isn't supposed to be how it works. They are supposed to be pathetically grateful for the things that are given to them. They are supposed to do as they are told. Well, there's a storm on the horizon.

You see, the greengrocer's sits on the corner of my road and the bottom of the high street of this fair city. The main train station lies a 3 minute walk from the door of their shop and to get from the station to the centre of town you must walk right past them. So they came up with this wizard idea. From 8-9 they would make and sell takeaway hot breakfasts for the workers walking past their door to work. From 1-2 they would make and sell takeaway hot lunches for the workers and residents nearby. From 5-6 they would make and sell takeaway hot dinners for the workers going back to the train station to take home. Three hour long sessions of doling out hot, healthy, nutritious, locally sourced, cheap food (and given the aroma coming from the food that Mrs. Greengrocer eats, it would taste bloody fantastic) all made with produce they sell in their shop.

Mr Greengrocer had negotiated terms with the butcher to supply the chicken and lamb, he had made sure the kitchen in the back of his little shop came up to scratch, he and his wife had attended the evening courses, after the shop had been open all day, 7 days a week, to get their food handling certificates. He thought it odd that he had to go to the council and ask permission to sell this food. He understood about having to comply with food safety and kitchen cleanliness standards, but to go and ask for permission to sell stuff? Like he says: "S'my blinking bizzniss. What does counzil man know of bizzniss?"

The council, of course, have refused permission for this venture. Their policy on takeaways round my part of town are clear. There is already a kebab shop, a Chinese and a chippy that cater for the late diner. They don't want anymore hotspots of people hanging around late at night.

Mr. Greengrocer points out that they close at 7 and he isn't going be open at 2am, he has to get up at 5am to sort his stock and shop out, have his own breakfast, do his paperwork, pay his taxes, get his kids ready and off to school. He isn't interested in the lager brigade stumbling over his mushrooms and mangoes on their way back from the clubs.

It is irrelevant. Council guidelines equate takeaway food with rowdy pissheads, flashing neon signs and a sea of discarded poly food trays. There is no room in the rules to distinguish. There is no will to change the rules.

Mr. Greengrocer points out that a new Chinese has opened across the road from him recently. They got permission. He asked them how. They told him. They made four applications, and made four appeals. That cost them £9000 before they even opened for business.

Mr. Greengrocer is not a fool, he's joined the dots. "Counzil just want my money." It's not about the drunkards. It's not about the mess. It's not about the neon. It is about these unelected grey council mongtards showing you that they are in charge. It is absolutely about taking as much of your cash as possible.

Mr. Greengrocer has realised what 21st century Britain is all about. It can be summed up thus: Be thankful for what you have. Be more thankful that we don't come and take it all from you.

Mr. Greengrocer says that in Bangladesh you'd just bribe them. In the UK you pay a £2000 bribe up front, they even give you a receipt, then they still don't let you do it.

Mr. Greengrocer knows bad business when he sees it.


John R said...

Ok, if that's the council's game then let's use their own rules against them.

Tell Mr Greengrocer to claim he's been refused his license on the grounds of race. After all if it's OK for Mr Chinese Takeaway to operate then it must be OK for Mr Greengrocer - unless the evil council employee is a racist. A nice letter from his solictor will probably do the trick. (An anonymous tip-off to the local paper wouldn't come amiss either). He might also be able to claim damages for loss of trade and the cost of the repeated applications/appeals.

Eni said...

You mentioned the archetypical old man with cheery ruddy faces as in the Enid Blyton's books like Five Go To Finniston Farm (like Mr. Finniston, who is poor and descended from an old aristocratic feudal family of old). Your article about Bangladeshi success is very impressive, though, there are other extraneous cirtcumstances why foreign ethnic groups like Bangladeshis success while others do not. Talking about Enid Blyton, I am glad to inform you that I have published a book on her, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (
Stephen Isabirye