1 PM Friday
I am doing a gig tonight in Exeter. Not my own gig, Free until Famous on Tour, but a show for Jews performed by other Jews. I am pleased to have been asked because for the first time since I moved to the UK I will not be the moaniest jerk in the room.
From door to door and back again will take me at least 15 hours and the money is so low, I could make more flying to New York, picking up recyclable cans and bottles off the street and redeeming them. The money is so low I’m gonna be too embarrassed to tell Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. The money is so low I cannot even be bothered to come up with another simile. Still, I am happy Geoff Whiting asked me.
I am going to scream when I get into Exeter. I always do when I travel in Britain.
Bad things happen when you travel. You meet a girl. You have children. You grow fond of them. They get taken from you. You have to move around the corner to be near them. Next thing you know you’ve been living in a country that doesn’t really like you very much for 12 long years.
Another reason I hate going around this country is that every town centre in Britain is dead or dying. High Street shops are boarded up. And the ones that remain are cheesy pound shops and betting offices or are shops just struggling like the United Kingdom struggles to remain relevant.
The reason town centres are dying is so simple and you barely read or hear a word about it. Parking restrictions have removed on-street parking in front of the shops. No one with a car can get near to the shops and they drive right past to the superstores with their huge, low taxed car parks.
Shops have been sacrificed and street life of British towns deadened to make for easy transit to Tesco and Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and Asda. I would name more, but 95% of Britain is owned by four or so companies. And each one is feeding off the life of the towns of Britain. Each one benefits with every foot of yellow lines that make roads in towns roads through towns.
Small shops can’t afford to advertise in the Guardian or the Times or on TV. Small shopkeepers don’t have the money to give to the Conservative Party to become a peer or sit in Cabinet. The workers in small shops aren’t unionized so the Labour Party doesn’t seem interested in them. No one is speaking out for small shops and the life they give to my beautiful, intimate, quaint, ecologically friendly Britain. It makes me scream.
This post was a bit serious. I am no John Fleming and his levity. Excuse me.
See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday at the Source Below. Free admission but you will be guilted into giving me money to get out. Reserve at http://bit.ly/londonfreeshow