Friday, August 06, 2004

It’s been an interesting week in the shop, I reckon at least 50% of our customers have been from overseas. Loads of French people, plus plenty of Spanish, Greeks, Germans, Italians and a Dutch women who visited on several occasions, listened to loads of stuff but did not actually buy anything in the end. I always enjoy chatting to these people, as I am curious to find out how they ended up in Bristol.

Much as I love our wonderful city, I have to admit that it does not have the highest profile in the world, so when you are from say Paris, how do you end up here? Often people come here on a work related trip, sometimes for a couple of days often for longer projects. We do get some who are on the tourist trail, so they have been to Stonehenge and Bath and may be stopping in Bristol before heading over to Cardiff. I’ve spoken to quite a few people who are on a general trip around the UK and wanted to come to Bristol due to the success of people like Massive Attack, Portishead and Roni Size. Undoubtedly the additional airline services, which Easyjet and others have bought to town, also have an impact. A few years ago it would have outrageous to think that so many of the major cities in Europe could be within such easy reach and at such affordable prices. I really like the diversity and excitement that these tourists bring to the place. I just wish that we had a transport system, which was as affordable and efficient as many of those which we encounter whilst on our travels. I also hope that we don’t get too carried away with the idea that every retail place has to be a bar or restaurant, we need to keep small, quirky, independent shops otherwise we lose our identity.

Obviously my time working on Park Street has exposed me to the problems, which small shopkeepers encounter. I just hope that the people who run the city realise that creativity and individuality does attract people to Bristol and help the ambience of the whole area; it feels as though we are currently going through a phase when the highest bidder gets all. Sometimes that’s not the best solution in the long term, we have so many creative people in this place sometimes it would be nice if they were given a bit more encouragement from above.

Enough whinging! Talking of overseas visitors, we shall once again be grabbing the phrase book and the maps, as we are heading to Bilbao in October. We had to squeeze in a visit before Easyjet switched the route from Bilbao to Madrid, so we thought we would link it in with the Magnetic Fields + The Real Tuesday Weld tour. It’s always good fun seeing bands when on holiday and this should be no exception.

Tomorrow sees the start of the football season, Bristol City start off with a home match against newly promoted Torquay United. The team has a new manager and several new faces competing for places (including a couple of young lads who have come through the junior ranks) and I can almost start to feel myself getting optimistic about the next 10 months, which is very different from the dreadful, hollow feeling which we were all left with after our shocking capitulation in Cardiff in May.


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