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It's almost three in [...].

Byline: dorinda mccann

It's almost three in the afternoon and I'm just back from the supermarket. I've put away the shopping and I'm sitting down at the table with a cup of tea - my first since 7.30am.

Shopping was even more of a pain than usual due to the time of year. I get grumpier every year and frankly, already I make Ebenezer Scrooge seem like good time Charlie.

They're just such soulless places and all the hype telling us that they're cutting prices for us and keeping prices down for us, blah blah blah - is all my eye and Betty Martin.

The fact is they don't give a damn about us - all they want is our money. You have to be careful of the special offers too, a few weeks ago when I was buying the dried fruit to make Christmas cakes I picked up a kilo bag of raisons and found that if I bought two half kilo bags instead I saved 86p so work that one out.

It was back in 1967 that Fine Fare supermarket opened in Ammanford. I thought it was fantastic because it was so modern. Up until then I did my shopping in my local corner shop and it was just like the shops I'd been brought up with and was, in reality, the front room of an end of terrace house. Wooden floorboards, wooden counter with a flap on hinges, a bentwood chair for the customer and the grocer dressed in a brown overall just like Arkwright in Open all Hours.

The grocer was called Mr Richards - a man I suppose in his 50s though he seemed ancient to me. He was a kindly soul who not only knew everyone but cared about them, understood that money was hard to come by and kept a weekly 'slate' for most of the people on the estate.

He and his wife made and decorated the most exquisite wedding cakes I've ever seen. He had a long pole with a grip on the end, a red enamel bacon slicer and a marble block on which he kept a big slab of American cheese.

My mother-in-law was very fond of his fruit cake, which was sold by the pound.

The crisps were kept in tin boxes, sugar was measured into blue bags and salt was sold in blocks.

The shop had a distinctive smell; a mixture of bacon and cheese, red carbolic, coal tar, Sunlight, Puritan and Knight's Castile; paraffin, broken biscuits, fruit and Madeira cake and a 101 other things that made up the little room that was the centre of the community.

The light from the window shone out onto the rainy pavement on dreary winter evenings like a welcoming beacon and along with Luther's chip shop - a steam filled space full of the smell of vinegar and beef dripping - made our workaday lives so much more comfortable.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2011
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