Happy… and Sad

Very happy that Northampton Borough Council have knocked 25% off the market rents for regular traders.

This makes a big difference to some people, and is what I call a substantial improvement, a recognition that times are hard, and that for some small traders this 25% may be the difference in packing up or soldiering on awhile, hoping that things will improve. So I must wholeheartedly congratulate the present administration in making this reduction possible.

Happy too that an effort is being made by NBC, aided by the BID, to liven up the Town Centre for Christmas. We do need to get the punters in, and while what has been done so far is not fantastic, it is certainly a step in the right direction and should bring an increase in Christmas shoppers.

Sad? Well yes, I still feel sad about the demise of the Chronicle & Echo. From a lightweight daily paper to a huge bloated weekly that you need a wheelbarrow to move about. I miss the colourful paper-sellers too, always an important local feature of a town centre. It seems quieter and duller since they've gone. These guys knew pretty much all that was going on, and you could hear the word on the street straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. All vanished now, because nobody wants to carry a half-hundredweight of newspaper advertising about with them while shopping, or into the office or the works or the shop, do they?

I often see stacks of neglected and spurned Chrons in newsagents right into the following week, waiting to be destroyed because nobody wants them. It's a great shame. Most of the news is old news by the time it gets in the Chron nowadays. Only okay if you're slow on the uptake and need to see what was happening last week. And the quality of the journalism, if I dare call it that, plunges new depths weekly. At one time the Chron made at least a pretence of doing a bit of investigative journalism, just to keep local interest up, but now all you see are insipid articles about the front lawn and the relatives and the cat, that sort of 'safe' crap. Who wants to know all that stuff?

Of course, you can't directly blame the writers, as it's probably editorial policy which is making them write garbage. And as for the letters pages, well they have only about as much in the weekly edition as they used to have in any one daily edition, so local democracy has taken a battering there. All in all I would say the Chron is going downhill rapidly now, and I wonder if it will last another year. Circulation must be drastically down, judging by the unbought copies I see stacked up, and what I am told by newsagents.

This is very sad from all points of view. A local bulwark of democracy has gone, jobs have gone, the quality of content has deteriorated badly, and lots of little newsagents have lost a source of trade. Northamptonians have lost a daily paper, and still badly miss it. I get comments about it every day on my stall; customers do miss the Chron, especially the older folks. You have to go onto the Chron website to get the breaking news, and often that's what happened last week, not this one. The demise of the Northampton Chronicle & Echo is a sad story.

Ever wondered how many people we serve on the market? In a day, a week, a month? It depends on what sort of gear you sell of course, and what hours and days you stand, and what the weather is like on any day or week of days. In my trade, where it's all small purchases, it must run into hundreds a day, perhaps more on Saturdays if the weather is fine. For a big set of stalls like mine, just 300 a day on average would mean around 1,800 a week if you do six days, and that's 7,200 a month, or 86,400 a year. Amazing numbers, but lots of them are repeat sales, of course. Pile it high and sell it cheap and you'll always have customers. You can see why a good display or 'flash' as we call it, is so important. A lovely flash will bring in the cash!

Might not have time to put anything else up here before Christmas, so I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, or a Cool Yule as the pagans say, and a Happy New Year.

You can keep up with me on Twitter, where I often take a tweet now and then: https://twitter.com/eamonnfitzy

Wouldn't be Christmas without the Poges, so here they are to herald it in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwHyuraau4Q&feature=related