Words Kirk Truman
Photography Adedotun Adesanya
“Convenience, n.: The quality of being convenient, generally: i.e. of being suitable or well-adapted to the performance of some action or to the satisfying of requirements; suitability, commodiousness.”
Even according to the Oxford English Dictionary, convenience is just a bore. Sleepwalking through the resounding cries, bops and bleeps of cash registers and self-service tills we are completely unaware that we are stomping about in the supermarket revolution – the undying, slogan filled monopoly of the High Street. We are told competition is a healthy routine, but in a small community, such as our own, it comes at the cost of the independent sellers. The rise of the corporate is tough and it is leaving desolate, empty spaces on our streets. They say “We’re all in this together,” but are we really? If so, who? This is something that local residents feel must be reduced to ensure the preservation of our charismatic neighbourhood. Our local businesses deserve to appropriately co-exist alongside major competitors, giving them an assured longevity in the area; they are not for the gallows.
Walking about her small store in a long traditional striped grocer’s apron is Christine Vasili, a shop owner based on New Cavendish Street. Above a traditional awning, under which fruit and vegetables are displayed, is a sign which aptly reads Christine’s Express. The business has been selling fresh fruit and day-to-day essentials for over 60 years. Christine, originally from Cyprus, tells me that she started her business when she came to England in 1954. She speaks to me about her years in the area, changes in scenery, the telecom tower being built, the IRA bombing in 1971, the demolition of Blitz damaged houses and the rebuilding of the area. She used to run the Express with her late husband, it had been an off-licence then, but she decided to drop alcohol from her shelves after his passing. All of her stock is purchased in London and she tells me from where its is sourced, “Me and my son, we go to Brick Lane market where we buy all of our fruit and vegetables fresh on a Sunday. Once we brought everything from Covent Garden market but that’s a tourist area now.”