Ilfracombe, which is why it’s been an expensive week so far.
I had to go to a meeting in London yesterday. The meeting lasted less than an
hour but it took nine hours, twenty miles of driving and a stonking train fare
to get there and home again. Not to mention the cost of the mysterious
transformation that yet again took place somewhere between Barnstaple and
Paddington. How is it that I get on the train in Devon looking respectable, and
when I get off it in London I look like a bag lady? I’m sure I’m not the only
person this happens to. Maybe that’s why there’s a branch of Monsoon in
None of the people at the meeting knew where Ilfracombe was. That was
interesting, because they’re in the book business, and while most of the trade
is mourning the fact that bookshops are closing down all around us, what do we
have right here in our own High Street?
to hang onto all sorts of businesses which, for friends who live in bigger towns
with easier communications, are only a fond memory. A proper greengrocer. Two
real butchers. Bakeries and a post office that aren’t just add-ins to
supermarkets. A fish shop. A local printer. Pedlar’s. Shops that deliver. Shops
that don’t charge silly prices. Shops where the staff know what they’re talking
about - usually because they’re the owners. That’s not to mention the proper
pubs, the farmers who sell locally-raised meat and the places to buy free-range
eggs at the front gate. As the daughter and grand-daughter of former Ilfracombe
shopkeepers, I listened to the Londoners saying, "Ilfracombe? Where’s that?" and
I smiled, and I thought, it’s in a very good place.