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Plenty on Wikipedia and on IMDd.  Those two websites are great for the date and place of birth, as well as listing the TV, films, stage and radio I've worked on.  What they don't do is describe what it was like working on those productions, alongside the wonderful and sometimes not-so-wonderful personalities involved. They also don't divulge the highs and lows of over 50 years of marriage, bringing up three kids as well as emerging grandchildren. If you're interested, Learning My Lines (my autobiography), Echoes (my first novel) are for sale through my website, as is an archive of my blogs from 2009-2013.

Sunday, 1 March 2015


I did a series for Channel 4 many moons ago about the importance of local shops and the community. Ken Richardson had a hardware shop. An old people’s home was just around the corner. Mr Richardson, who’d been trading for over thirty years knew everybody. One day an old lady from the home, saw Mr Richardson putting his wares outside his shop.

‘Morning, Mr Richardson.’ she said.
‘Morning, Mrs Jones, how are you?’
‘Not sleeping well at the moment. I’m on my was to see the doctor.’
‘Do you fancy a cup of tea, Mrs Jones?’

Mrs Jones sat down with her cup of tea, told Mr Richardson about her woes, he sympathized and by the time she’d finished her tea she’d forgotten about going to see the doctor and went back home. She needed someone to talk to. That’s what local shops offer. People that you know, who are helpful and, most importantly of all... listen.

I can go through many examples of the importance of local shops. But they are closing faster than pubs. Why?

Here’s a clear example. A Jamie Oliver restaurant has just opened in our area. Not the best of nosh but he’s popular. Fifty yards away from Oliver’s there was a beautiful children’s book shop. It had been operating for over twenty five years. Now it has closed.

The reason is simple. In comes Oliver’s, the landlords of shops in the same street put the rents up. Their logic is that because Oliver’s in the area, more people will be around, therefore the renters of their shops will make more money, so why not the greedy landlords.

It’s horrible, it’s crazy, the ex-children’s book shop is empty, no one has taken it up. I suppose in time it’ll be a short let for an antique shop, a coffee outlet or, as most empty premises. are taken over by Charity shops.

I don’t know what can be done about it, no point in appealing to the landlords soft side! They’re like armadillos.

And Armadillos are ruthless and devour anything in their path.  


  1. I love a good charity shop for a bargain but it's a great shame that these stores - which rely on reduced rates - are the only shops that can survive on today's high street. I walk around my hometown and it's just depressing to see how many shops are boarded up, gathering dust whilst the charity shops and pound stores thrive and the big supermarket and retail chains prosper on these satellite retail estates.

  2. My home town is much the same with the lovely individual shops I remember from my youth being long gone, though one or two are hanging on in there, by a thread.. I miss C&A and Littlewoods store with its restaurant, alas no more.

    Charity shops, cheap stores and pound shops taking their places, but even they look better than boarded up empty premises!

    We have so many cafes in Bedford now, you really can take your pick, with new ones opening every other week it seems, whilst more pubs are closing. .

    We used to have a shop in my village that closed yonks ago, but still have the post office. Also one of the two pubs is closed too and houses being built on the car park.

    Feeling quite melancholy now, Ray!