Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mandatory Europeanism

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The chemist occupies a special place in a neighbourhood. The pharmacist claims a strangely intimate relation to the client. We entrust the man or woman in the white coat with the embarrassing details or our ailments, and niggling concerns about skin conditions and less savoury things. They help us in maintaining the armoury of public life.

Late last year, someone came into our chemist with an offer that was hard to refuse. He was about to open a branch of the super-chain Chemist Warehouse around the corner. ‘You can either sell us your business now, or you will go broke, as there’s no way you can match our prices.’ So they sold.

In its place is a chemist supermarket. The windows are plastered with crazy offers – I it looks cheap and nasty, people will think they are getting a bargain. Inside, it looks like any tacky supermarket, with aisles groaning with remaindered goods.

I decided I had to come and confront these demons soon after they were open, to give them a chance to win me over. Perhaps they are doing a social service, offering medical goods at a price that poor people could afford. No, instead the young man behind the counter sympathised with my position, and could see that it was a loss of neighbourhood. But, he said, ‘That’s what they are doing in Europe now, so, well…’

That’s certainly something to touch the sensitive republican nerve. So it’s done in Europe. Ok, I guess you’re right. Let’s give up on our local values, as if it is happening in Europe now, then it’s inevitable that will be happen here too. Resistance is futile.

This is our international European designer brand mentality, consigning us to the rubbish bin of history at the bottom of the world.

Or is it?