Shop local? Definitely! There’s a lot of twitter traffic these days about ‘shop local’. There have been a few comments on this site too. It’s a good thing, right? Probably. Mostly.
Of course what most of the shop local brigade mean is ‘shop at independent local stores’. Tesco, bad. Independent local grocer, good. It’s a laudable sentiment. Or rather, most people think it’s a great idea until it gets to 7.00pm and you need a crisp lettuce, a loaf of bread that’s still within its sell-by date or something easy to stick in the oven. And then the convenience, the opening hours and range of products at the UK’s ‘favourite’ grocer comes into its own. And of course it’s not just Tesco versus the people. Twickenham now has a local version of Sainsbury’s, will soon have a Morrisons and, if the rumours are true, an Aldi. Why are these ‘locals’ here? Money, obviously. The internet has put paid to the rise and rise of the edge of town hypermarket. Why wander round an aircraft hangar of a supermarket enduring an experience that’s about as entertaining as a domestic argument in Ikea (and yes, we do mean the Croydon one not the Wembley one) when you could have your weekly shop delivered right to your door? Why go to Big Tesco to buy a television or a microwave when you can get it cheaper from Luxembourg’s very own internet giant, Amazon?
Oh, alright then.
Even if you don’t live by it, go running or walk the dog by it, it’s worth getting down to the river early on a bright spring morning. Although we don’t usually say things like this… it’s actually quite uplifting.
Spring morning, Orleans Gardens
We get through a lot of words on this site. No sooner has the latest delivery arrived at the twickerati warehouse near Heathrow than we’re out and about spreading them around the site. Do any of them make sense? Individually yes, but once we start stitching them together into what we like to call ‘sentences’ then the meaning can sometimes be lost. We reckoned that summarising what it all means is best done through the medium of a ‘word cloud’ and so we went onto the Wordle site and cooked up this thing. It shows the most commonly used words on twickerati at the moment. It also shows we love local Twickenham stuff. Beyond that? Not a lot, but it’s quite fun.
Twickerati “Wordle” graphic
* Make your own at Wordle
Strawberry Hill is up in arms, the natives with their strange customs are revolting and beautiful maidens are fainting at the thought of Horace Walpole spinning in his grave. Is it the plot of a recently discovered gothic novel? No, it’s the latest edition of the Strawberry Hill Residents Association’s newsletter. It majors on a boundary dispute that’s rocking the Hill and putting other territorial conflicts around the world into the shade. The SHRA is outraged that Twickenham has launched a vicious land grab on parts of Strawberry Hill under the auspices of Richmond Council’s ‘village plans’.
“I remember when all this were paper.” Is that what you think when you stand looking out across the local media landscape? It often feels like the once-dominant local newspaper industry has been bulldozed to make way for a bright new media estate of tweets, blogs, microsites, listing sites, Facebook posts and just about anything else that can be used to transmit news from person A to person B. Except that it’s not quite like that because somewhere in the middle of this confusing new landscape still stands the local newspaper, like a listed building surrounded by new-build.
But even that’s not a totally fair assessment either, for two reasons. The first is that the local paper, in our case Ye Olde Richmond & Twickenham Times, is not just some thatched cottage totally overshadowed by the new. It still has an important role, significant influence and is trying to adapt to the new world. The second reason the thatched cottage analogy doesn’t work is that when the going gets tough, the local paper is not a listed building that can be propped up by English Heritage or Lottery grants for historical or sentimental reasons; it’s a business and could quite easily suddenly stop being one.
TIMES ARE CHANGING
Why mention any of that? Well, sometime ago, many months if we’re honest, a message reached us asking if anyone actually read the Richmond and Twickenham Times anymore and “wouldn’t it be good to do a survey about it”? The answers to those questions are yes and yes. People still read it, businesses still advertise in it and angry residents still write letters to it. But all three of those groups also increasingly do those things online. The business of making actual newspapers out of dead trees is in serious decline. It’s only a matter of time before the traditional printed newspaper is found only in the world of Hoxton retro-chic.
UPDATE: The hour is nearly upon us. Yes, on Thursday 24th, January the second ‘Twickenham hyperlocal meet up’ will shake Twickenham to its very foundations when it takes place at Ales & Tails Bar in York Street. Read on for the full monty on the whys and wherefores. Or better still, come on down to talk local Twickenham stuff, social media, t’interweb, kick some ideas around or just sneak a crafty drink or two. All welcome (i.e. buy your own drinks) from 8.30pm.
As 2012 trudges off into the distance, umbrella in hand, and 2013 arrives amid a flurry of new year’s resolutions which should take us through to the end of the month, what can we look forward to in Twickenham in 2013? Here are just 10 things that might (or might not) happen:
- Work starts on the station development. TRAG activists go underground, hiding out in barns by day and blowing up the railway tracks at night. A Solum Regeneration troop train is derailed and South West Trains also get disrupted. No one notices the difference.
- Three restaurants and four cafes close. The following month, three new restaurants and four new cafes open… in exactly the same premises. And so on.
- The new school opens on the Clifden Road site. Clifden Road residents erect barricades in an attempt to control the flow of Chelsea Tractors blocking the street. Council Leader Lord True personally hires a JCB and, with a cry of ‘victory!’, smashes through the barricades, slightly injuring a cute kitten and tearing the sleeve of his new jacket.
- Richmond Council runs a consultation exercise on how many public consultations the public want. Opposers of public consultations initiate a judicial review… which the Council then wins. An El Brute press release follows requesting no further discussion about public consultations.
- The Twickenham Advisory Panel breaks cover, writes a proposal for an alternative government in Twickenham, gains official UN recognition but then gets disbanded by the Council.
- The development plans for the old Royal Mail sorting office site get approved. Someone, somewhere is not happy. They hand paint a banner in order to get on the front page of the Richmond & Twickenham Times.
- Sainsburys opens on Twickenham Green. Initially people vow not to use it… but hang on, it’s just soooo convenient. A “Fortnum & Mason Local” opens in The Crown on Richmond Road.
- In the wake of the early success of Laverstoke Park Farm Butchers and Rubens Bakehouse, a candlestick maker sets up on York Street. Demand for candlesticks turns out to be weak and although sales of gift-wrapped scented candles hold up fairly well it closes within six months.
- Twickenham Green breaks the world record for the number of fetes and fun days in one location. 28 similar events take place on it over the summer. It corners the market and soon becomes the only place in London where you can buy weak tea, fruit cake and potted geraniums.
- Street improvements take place in King Street. The raised pavement road surface gives traffic-bound car drivers a much better view of the wide range of charity shops.
We can’t be sure all of the above will happen, some will, some won’t, but however things turn out, 2013 is certain to be an interesting year. Why not add your predictions below?
And if you want to discuss these ideas and more, then keep an eye out for the “twickerati Twickenham meet up” coming to a pub near you later this month.
And it looks like we might have made it, yes, it looks like we’ve made it to the end.
Some Twickmas going on
Wise words from Mr Albarn but it’s probably a reasonable assumption that he wasn’t thinking of the year 2012 in Twickenham when he penned those lines back in the early 90s. But folks, that doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that it’s been an interesting year in Twickenham. Fascinating in its own way. We’ve covered lots of it on here, had plenty of insightful discussion and a good few fatuous comments too, most of them from your humble correspondent.
2013 promises to be no less interesting mainly because stuff just keeps happening. That’s the weird thing about stuff, it’s either just happened, is out there happening right now or is getting ready to happen. From all the (small) team at twickerati HQ we hope that all the stuff that happens to you over Christmas is good.
We’ll be on a bit of a go slow over the next week and a bit, but will be back all keys blazing in January. So, fellow twickerati, in the meantime, thank you for all your site visits, support, comments and recommendations over the last year and we wish you all the very best for 2013. See you soon.
Oh, and if you’re in the mood to show your appreciation for this site through the medium of ‘small charitable donation to help local homeless people’ or you’re simply in the mood to donate anyway, then you can give money to the excellent local charity SPEAR right here.