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Amaryllis: Vigilante

One of the many, many, many problems with Brexit is that it has pervaded the news so completely and so is so stultifyingly boring that it has obliterated the time and the will to cover or listen to the issues that should be receiving our attention. No-one else gets much of a word in apart from that other hideous disaster of 2016. It is like the Government’s Trojan Horse, huge and unwieldy but letting in all kinds of dangers whilst everyone is concentrating on it alone.
 
One such, very close to my heart, is the Government’s proposal to raise business rates for many small businesses especially in London and the South East. This could mean the death knell for thousands of independent shops and services already struggling with exorbitant rents and rates. I am often confused by political motives, Brexit being a case in point, and insanity often seems the likeliest explanation. Else why would they (whoever thought up this crazy idea) think high streets offering a diversity of services and products could be improved by replacing these with: endless coffee shops; exclusive clothes shops where the assistants look bored out of their minds but are still not prepared to liven up their day with a visit from anyone unless they are dressed head to toe in Gucci; shops selling ‘exclusive’ products, alpaca cheese, raw muffins, elixirs of life and youth that could leave you looking as unreal as Nicole Kidman, none of which would help put a meal on the table but reassuringly at discriminate expense.
 
Raising the business rates will force shop closure and staff redundancies, and at the very least, wages and bonuses may be frozen to compensate. Following on from the closure of libraries, pubs, theatres, cinemas etc, the loss of bookshops, independent record stores and other businesses that involve the community through reading groups, events, workshops etc will decimate the community even further. Even more insanely, rates for internet-based super-corps such as Amazon and Sports Direct will actually DECREASE!! They don’t pay taxes, they underpay employees and treat them appallingly but hey let’s they deserve a break! London is increasingly coming to resemble a sort of Gotham City playground and provider to the wealthy, essential workers and diversity sidelined to the outskirts.
 
Anyway we may not have Batman but luckily Amaryllis is on hand and in the fight to keep the community we have defiantly set up yet another bookgroup. Last week saw our first meeting for the Crime Book group which read The Pledge by Friedrich Durrenmatt which was a great book to start with because it explored and asked questions about the conventional detective novel within a detective novel if that makes sense. Well, it will if you read the book. It was a small group, actually just F and I but we thrashed out the very marrow of the book over coffee at the wonderful Pedlars. However, we were eventually drowned out by our neighbours who seemed to be engaged on a very loud discussion of their own although perhaps not of the same perspicacity and reasoning. I believe their topic of interest was the Batman Lego movie…
 
This week I read a wonderful novel called Pachinko which is a sweeping and very moving story of a family of Koreans forced to move to Japan during the twentieth century. I did not know much about this history and it is a fascinating one and beautifully told and it is always an excellent policy to remind oneself of the struggles others have gone through when faced with the bleak period we seem to be living through now.

About Amaryllis

 

Amaryllis is our bookshop blogger.

 

Her pen name is taken from Alice Thomas Ellis’ Other Side of the Fire, which is unfortunately and scandalously out of print. One of the funniest bits in the book is the bodice-ripper that one of the characters is writing and the female - who slays the men with one toss of her raven locks and one glance from her fiery green eyes as she strides among the glens, faithful wolfhound by her side - is Amaryllis! And the name just seemed to suit so here we are.

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