steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Bristol versus Babylon

I walked to the Gloucester Rd this afternoon to pick up a few things. You can basically buy anything on that street.

Bought shallots at greengrocer (for coq au vin tomorrow)
Bought one rasher of streaky bacon from butcher (ditto)
Bought landline phone from local electricity shop to replace apparently broken one
Bought fillet of sushi-grade salmon from fishmonger for supper tonight
Bought potatoes at a second greengrocer (forgot at the first)
Donated some books to charity shop
Had spare key cut at locksmith/cobbler
Bought small multiseed loaf from baker
In freezing rain, gave £1.50 to beggar for coffee (i.e. an excuse to get some shelter)
Bought bottle of wine at supermarket
Bought coffee at cafe (actually that was free, as I'd filled my loyalty card)
Bought nori at Vietnamese supermarket for tonight's sushi

Total cost of expedition: £23

Let's compare that to The Hundred, the main street in my home town, in the 1970s. Actually, it doesn't come out too badly: you could perform most of the same transactions, with the following exceptions:

No sushi-grade salmon
No beggars
No nori
No phone (we did have phones, but they were only available via a Post Office engineer coming to your house to install them, I think)

Also, the coffee would have been pretty awful.

However, both the Gloucester Road and The Hundred look good when compared with the city of Babylon, as described in Walton's libretto for Belshazzar's Feast (riffing in turn off Revelation):

Her merchandise was of gold and silver,
Of precious stones, of pearls, of fine linen,
Of purple, silk and scarlet,
All manner vessels of ivory,
All manner vessels of most precious wood,
Of brass, iron and marble,
Cinnamon, odours and ointments,
Of frankincense, wine and oil,
Fine flour, wheat and beasts,
Sheep, horses, chariots, slaves
And the souls of men.

So, if I'd gone out with the same shopping list I wouldn't have been able to buy anything except the wine. Pathetic.

Come on, Babylon, pull your finger out!
Tags: bristol, maunderings

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