For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the Co-op is the small supermarket half way up the High Street in Glastonbury. It’s much like any other small supermarket in any town in England, except they sell a larger than normal range of wholefoods and their customers are occasionally barefoot. The staff in the Co-op are generally very friendly, helpful and tolerant. The grumpy ones don’t tend to last long as working behind the counter requires skills more usually found amongst mental health professionals. They also need to possess a facial recognition system on a par with the Police National Computer, in order to identify the many benchers (Glastonbury’s street drinkers) who are currently banned from purchasing alcohol. The staff also appear to have a surfeit of kindness, I recently heard one explaining to an elderly and rather dithering gentleman that no, they didn’t have Hot Cross Buns, it being June, but they had been able to find a packet of mincepies for him.
Over the past 25 years, the shop has reinvented itself from being Nisa, to Heritage Fine Foods and now the Co-op. This is par for the course as half of the townspeople have changed their names at least once (see my post Glastonbury – the Perfect Place to Reinvent Yourself?) No matter what it’s been called the shop has exerted a strange magnetic force. I was unable to walk past without feeling an inexorable pull on my solar plexus towards its cool and relatively normal (for Glastonbury) neon-lit interior, even if I didn’t actually need any groceries. It was an un-defiable attraction like gravity, or Tom Hardy, as if a huge and powerful magnet lurked behind the shelves. This magnet seemed to move – mostly I’d find myself staring at the shelf of reduced ‘best before’ items, at other times the chocolate or crisps. Strangely, it never seemed to be behind the tofu or the broccoli.
In the past few months however, since just before the refurbishment of the store, when the false ceiling was stripped off and cables and tubes hung from above, and half the shelves were bare awaiting stock, giving the impression that one had entered some sort of post Brexit dystopian future, I no longer feel an irresistible pull to go in there. Sometimes I even walk past the shop, heading from the Cancer Research Shop directly to the Shaw Trust, without even noticing it is there.
What has happened to the Co-op magnet? I have several theories:
1. The magnet has been turned off, possibly by the Freemasons, in the hope that the town will stop filling up with hippies attracted by the Co-op’s wide range of gluten-free cereals and vegan snacks and become a ‘normal’ town with ‘normal’ shops again. If I am correct then I expect they will shortly be installing a time machine in place of the magnet, so we find ourselves magically transported back to the 1950’s, when no one ever suggested pedestrianising the High Street, women weren’t so uppity and children benefited from regular caning.
2. The owners of ‘Get Real’ the clothes shop next to the Co-op tunnelled in during the refurbishment, stole the magnet and installed it in their new premises over the road, in the shop previously known as ‘Covenstead’s Curious Cottage‘. Unfortunately, they have not properly calibrated the magnet and so, rather than the town’s inhabitants feeling an irresistible urge to pop in to purchase tie-dye pants or t-shirts featuring cosmic geometry, the magnet has instead increased the number of benchers outside St John’s Church.
3. The magnet has been moved to the new Visitor Reception Centre and de-tuned so it exerts a weaker but more wide-ranging pull towards the entire town. This has had the effect of moderately increasing trade to all the crystal, witchcraft and general new-age shops, explaining how they manage to stay open despite not selling a single thing anyone actually needs.
4. The manager of the Co-op secretly sold the magnet to the new Goddess House, with the effect that hundreds of otherwise sensible middle-aged women from assorted European countries have decided that communal ‘yoni steaming’ sounds like a sensible way to spend a quiet afternoon.
5. The magnet has broken due to some sort of earth polarity change / leyline issue, from people consistently getting the 4 directions wrong in ceremonies on the Tor. Fortunately, the town’s cosmic tour guide, Tor Webster, and electronics genius Mark from Sonus Magus, will shortly be joining forces to fix it, should this not go as planned the resulting localised magnetic shift will see the entire town’s alternative community disappear up their own bottoms.
6. The magnet has been relocated to Shepton Mallet, which will finally realise it’s ambition of ‘being on the up’ and will shortly be able to boast a decent cafe (this may well be true – check out my post about the Art Bank Cafe), an acupuncture clinic and at least two shops selling the kind of thing you might buy your aunt for her birthday. Plus, Shepton hardware shop will, at last, find an audience for its incongruously large range of cannabis-themed items and ugly ornaments featuring dolphins and/or underdressed and busty fairies. Everyone who can no longer afford to buy a house in Frome or Bruton will move there, filling the town with yummy mummies and men with hipster beards who work in advertising, and Shepton will be ruined forever.
7. There is no giant magnet, the irresistible pull was caused by the Michael Ley Line passing down and through the High St. Its magnetic power has been slowly dwindling as Glastonbury no longer has a unique monopoly on cosmic forces, now every High Street in England boasts at least one fairy crystal new age shop.
Do you have your own theory as to what has happened to the Glastonbury Co-Op Magnet? Please comment below, or on the Normal For Glastonbury Facebook page.
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