I’ve already referred to the global economic crisis and the ensuing recession in a previous post. And there can be no doubt that this one’s going to be a real killer with effects being felt by us all in innumerable ways. Many of us are already suffering serious financial hardship, with all indications being that things are going to get a lot worse before any real relief is forthcoming.
The seriousness of the situation is being brought home to us in many different ways, by many different things.
For me, personally, one of those things happened with the announcement last week that Woolworths was going “into administration”.
That many businesses will run into difficulties, even going bankrupt and/or folding completely is a foregone conclusion.
But there are some businesses that are so familiar to me that, in my mind, they’re practically institutions. Inconceivable (despite the warnings of common sense) that they should be anything other than marginally touched by the present crisis.
Marks & Spencer, Boots, W.H.Smith… yes, at one time or another they’ve all had their financial difficulties. Yet have somehow managed to survive. And Woolworths ranks right up there alongside these “institutions”.
Why? Because for as long as I can remember, even back to early childhood, they’ve always been there. There on the High Street (or other principal centre of shopping) of practically every town I’ve ever lived in or visited throughout my entire life. They’re sort of an intrinsic part of my “mental landscape of towns” as it were.
Yet now there’s the possibility, the strong possibility, that Woolworths (or “Woolies” as my mum used to call it) may cease to exist. Or certainly cease to exist in its present form.
Of course, its present form is not as its always been, but throughout all the changes Woolworths as a distinct entity has always been there. Which it may not be in the months to come.
And I’m surprised at the shock and dismay I experienced on hearing the announcement. Surprised because, and indeed for quite a few years now, its a shop I hardly ever visit. In fact, I have difficulty recollecting the last time I entered its doors. Yet, in some strange way, I shall miss it if it goes.
There’s a comfort to be had in things that are unchanging, that seem to epitomise unwavering stability. And such things are especially important in times of uncertainty. So this is my own little tribute to one of those things that clearly is no longer as stable or rock-solid as I’d always assumed.
Sad bad times indeed!