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Something I'd not really noticed before

When I was a lad living in Elland there was a bit of a furore when the local council decided to introduce parking restrictions outside one of the town's busiest newsagents. People would park outside as they popped in for 10 Woodbine and a copy of the Daily Express. Peak hours were from around 7.00 till 8.30 as people went off to work. The Police delighted in using up their stock of parking tickets in early morning raids.

Newsagents, like milkmen and bakers have always worked ungodly hours. I suppose that milkwomen do too.

At the moment El País newspaper has a promotion for a notebook computer for under 70€. The method to get hold of the computer is similar to another boyhood memory where picture cards - Great Locomotives of the World or European Butterflies - came inside packets of tea. In fact it's a bit less sophisticated than the cards as I have to clip a little token from the newspaper and stick it onto a card that came in the Sunday edition a couple orf weeks ago. If I miss too many tokens I won't get the computer.

Normally I buy El País two or three times a week but, whilst there are tokens to be collected, I'm having to be more disciplined.

I had to choose a newsagent as the delivery point for the computer and, reasonably enough, I chose the kiosk I normally use. What I hadn't noticed was that it doesn't open till around 9 in the morning. Tobacconists don't open till 9 either and, like most shops, they all close down again for the lunchtime slot before opening up again in the late afternoon/evening. My work pattern and their opening hours just aren't meshing. Of course I could just take pot luck and buy the paper anywhere but, when collection time rolls around, that could prove awkward with the rather taciturn newsagent. The problem was hardly insurmountable. I simply asked the chap to keep the paper for me. He misspells my name with a rather disconcerting variation, Crist, but, otherwise, the system seems to be working well.

It just made me realise what all that fuss was about all those years ago outside George Whittaker's shop. Surely, nowadays, it must be written into some sort of EU or UN charter that we all have the inalienable right to pick up our morning paper without let or hindrance?


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