Going To Another Place

And doing another thing…*

In my case it is not really hard to do. I lead a small life that does not go to many new places nor does it do many new things – any small variant is a bit of an advance. I can get a great deal of excitement buying a new pair of shoes because the intervals between visits to the shoe shop are so prolonged as to make me forget what happens there. I am always at a loss to know what size I want and have to look inside the current pair to find out. You don’t want to get your nose too near when you do that…

It is the same with visits to food stores. I do shop more frequently for bread and cheese than for boots, but a new supermarket or small shop is akin to an unexplored continent. Some of them are so confusing and pretentious as to cure any hunger without actually selling me any food. I have literally been put off by the intensity of the styling and promotion when I walk in. It can be the same with fast food restaurants and some pubs if the human touch is missing or the human scale has been exceeded.

Yet a bookstore holds no terrors. This is not a claim for superior intellectual tastes – I can cheerfully browse in a comic store like Minotaur. It is just that I know what books I like and no-one has to sell them to me by high pressure tactics. Just rack ’em and let me walk past the titles.

I think we all cope in different ways with commercial or cultural pressures. The ones that are so far over the top that we do not even recognise them are not a problem – neither are the simple and familiar. Those we cope with easily. It is the middle ground of being in a milieu that we recognise has rules and expectations…and spectators…but that we are not familiar with that causes most anxiety.

But as long as there is a gentle welcome and patience on the part of the staff, we can cope and add one more skill to our internal resume.

* For those unfamiliar with the Victorian vernacular, this was a phrase that was employed to bid a genteel defiance to one’s enemies..

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