Care of the recession, my local high street is dying. For example, here's the message left on the window of what used to be my local branch of GAME:
|'Insert Coin to play again' - What used to be North Finchley GAME|
You can't fault them for the wit, and besides, I always had good service there, and they even polished some of my slightly scratched CDs and DVDs. (I have a CD player and console which both seem to freak out the moment they detect the tiniest of scratches.) Then the recession happened.
Worst of all, it's really hard to get jobs right now. I've got a whole brace of qualifications and working 'experience' (oh, what a dreadful cliché!), and I'm finding it difficult to get employed after my own redundancy. What are a couple of young workers, whose main on-the-job training was in the dying art of high street retail, going to do now? The Job Centre is never the most enjoyable place to visit, and that's when the recession beast isn't on the loose, making one start having Yosser Hughes flashbacks.
The rest of recession-era Finchley High Street isn't looking too good either. Many shops, restaurants and businesses have either closed down, are closing down or are surreptitiously selling their properties on Estate Agent sites. More jobs lost. The big shock was our local branch of Irish themed boozer O'Neill's. I had discovered it for sale, albeit not too openly, while researching properties near the high street for a martial arts club I belong to. It's the first time I've seen a branded pub close down since the Firkin chain keeled over and died in 2001.
There is, of course, a recession on. (In fact we're now officially in a second recession...) Rents remain over-inflated and symptomatic of a country that's far too dependent on expensive money and over-priced property. But while George Osborne, a history graduate with no sense of history, tries to save the economy by destroying it, and big chains like GAME cut their losses and stave off oblivion (at least for now), there is another big problem, namely parking charges.
These are particularly onerous in the Finchley area. First of all, you can't even use a parking meter yet must instead spend 20 minutes arranging a ticket by telephone. It also costs up to £2.00 an hour for the privilege.
Most people go to the supermarket instead. Colney Hatch Tesco's, after all, has free parking.