Re: New Series; confessions of a retired SHOPKEEPER
Confessions of a retired shopkeeper
THE TALE OF A FIELD
When, in 1976, I found myself employed by one of the then new out of town D.I.Y sheds phenomena and as motorways sprung up and roads widened large tracts of adjacent countryside disappeared under the weight of the ubiquitous B & Q chain of stores and their imitators.
It so happened that my particular branch or outpost was built in a strawberry growing part of Hampshire where small holdings were the rule rather than the exception.
My father, on one of his visits advised me to buy a field as an investment. This was 1976 & an acre was selling locally for three thousand pounds, my annual salary
“I don’t want a field” I was rather offhand, but the truth was neither of us had a spare three grand.
Twenty years passed & these pig farmers, small holders, strawberry growers & field owners were being offered £300,000 for an acre, now they had planning consent for housing.
My, how that money blighted so many peoples lives. `Money became no object, houses were extended, and conservatories, stables & swimming pools were being put in everywhere. Some took to drinking all lunchtime & all evening, buying expensive rounds & finding lots of new friends
The problem was that it was new money. Those that had always had money, the old money people knew how to handle it & quietly got on with their lives.
One exception was old Absalom Leopold Strutt. He was 90 when they came to take his acre off of him. .
They hadn’t reckoned on having to deal with “Leo” Strutt. He’d had his field for 60 years and grew cut flowers & some salad crops for local florists whom he delivered to on his Pashleigh bicycle with the panniers on front & back, heaving with Chrysanths, Carnations Antirrhinums and other flowers.
This was his life. They could keep their money. Leo Strut never did sell out to them & they built around him until he was virtually isolated and the traffic increased & he became a lonely figure, cycling through the estate with his cloth cap, dungarees & bicycle clips.
One day he didn’t appear. A few more days passed & Josie, who relied on him for her flower shop, closed for lunch for the first time & took a taxi to his house, the door was shut but not locked.
“Leo is you there, Mr. Strutt”
He was dead, sat up in his favourite chair surrounded by piles of flowers and hundreds of unopened letters from developers and lawyers. He was 95
Did he beat them? I think he did .