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Moreen Simpson: Blame us online shoppers for John Lewis shutdown


Let’s take a toddle doon memory lane.

To the great days – decades even – when the elbow of Union Street and George Street were magnets for city folk and incoming teuchters every Saturday – rain, hail or snow. Did we need to be under cover? Hell no. All ages from kiddies to grandparents thronged the pavements; usually starting at Union Terrace, with a rakie roon C&A – always brill for a five shilling jumper or £9/99 mini for the Palace. Doon to Woollies for make-up, lacquer and pick-and-mix. Grab a pie, gravy and chips upstairs in BHS, across to Markies for knickers, up George Street for gloves in Reid and Pearson’s, the Laramie board-game in the Rubber Shop, to the Copie Arcade in Loch Street for a new school blazer or sheen. You always met folk you knew for a natter. Was there a better way of spending a Saturday?

Scroll on the years and Aberdeen cooncillors decided George Street – with its wonderful variety of shops – should be bulldozed. Blasted to kingdom-come in sacrifice to the blessed malls. Grand old, much-loved, many-floored department stores, like Isaac Benzies, rubbled. Even now, maks ye weep. Hey presto, the birth of the St Nicholas Centre, the Trinity and the Bon Accord. How I harrumphed about the loss of the old, super-duper shops. But we gradually got used to the new set-up, especially because, in 1989, it brought us simply the best store in the world – John Lewis – usually a trip to Glasgow to savour. Luuved it. So much space. My second wedding gift-list – magical.

However, with online shopping we grew lazy. Cruising the stores became a bit of a chore. When we used to spend the whole day doon-toon, now we couldn’t get home fast enough.

So last week, when I went skite at the news of JL’s closure, my quine rightly declared: “It’s people like you who’ve caused this. Before Covid, when were you last in the shop?” I know exactly; the summer of 2019 when I chose the fabric, they made and fitted a huge and most perfect pair of curtains.

Otherwise, I was – and still am – a JL-onliner. Their credit card is my only credit card.

So yes, me and my ilk are to blame for the store’s losses in Aberdeen. And yes, we’re blatent hypocrits for signing the petition pleading for it to stay. But we can try. Earlier this week the city’s taskforce of high-heid-yins met JL top bosses. And – not to let my optimism run away with me – the outcome was surprisingly positive. The store gadgies said they’re prepared to “reimagine” its presence in the city; possibly with a smaller lay-out and a Waitrose added on. Woo-woo – always wanted a Waitrose! A straw to clutch at indeed.

Although shops have closed in the Bon Acord Centre, there are also plans for a four-screen cinema and more food outlets; a combination of entertainment, eating-out and shopping, proving successful in Union Square.

In the name of all that’s sensible, there must be a place for a scaled-down, but still hugely needed and loved JL for the north and north-east.

Queen let down by other Windsors

In gorgeous buttercup yellow, Her Maj carried out her first public engagement for five months, to honour Australian Red Arrow pilots. I was never her biggest fan. However, in hindsight, I have to admire the courage and spirit of the woman, especially going through the travails of the past few years. Prince Philip was her one and only love. While he is so ill, she must be going through agonies, especially when so much of the rest of the family is in turmoil. She has tried her best to do the best; do the duty to which she has sworn her life. So sad that some of the Windsors have let her down.

Clever folk crack code on cravings

Did you catch the latest news from nutritionists who reckon they’ve cracked the code about what our food cravings say about our body? They’ve come up with some pearls of wisdom like: Compulsive snacking on bread and pasta means you need to eat more protein. Go and indulge yersellie in a massive sirloin steak. I beg to differ; I adore bread, pasta, tatties because I’m a Nibbleholic. I could eat a T-bone, mushrooms and chips and still devour a cheese toastie a few hours later.

However, I know the body has ways of making you eat what it needs. Like magic. Especially in pregnancy. I never met a quine who munched coal in a bid to smother her bod in calcium. But almost the moment I conceived, I went off coffee, anything alcoholic and … horrors … tobacco. My adored staples in life. That’s why I went to the doctor. Couldn’t understand what was going on. Why couldn’t I smoke or drink? The clever chappie queried I might be pregnant. Nae chunce, sez me. I came off the pill only a fortnight ago. The look he gave me sent alarm bells clanging. Need a urine sample. Surely not…!

Once diagnosed as a “twin mum” and lying on my comfie chair getting hubbie to serve me, all I wanted was orange ice lollies. Loadsa them. I ate a six-pack a night. Presumably craving vitamin C to help my babies grow. So I’d like to say a huge thank-you to our very clever bodies. All the companies that made orange ice lollies. And now I’m pondering why I’ve become addicted to Jaffa oranges. It can’t mean …?

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.