B&M Opening Hailed as Society Event of the Year

The opening of a new retail outlet extolling cheap stuff from China as must-have lifestyle purchases has been lauded by Berwick’s Civic Party as the society event of the year.

Balloons make everything a celebration.Complete with several cheerful balloons in B&M Bargains’ smart livery of electric blue and orange, the inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony was undertaken by Mayor Isabel Hunter and representatives of North Northumberland Food Bank – the latter’s inclusion a move by the owners and the Town Council, refreshing in its lack of cynicism, to head off criticism suggesting that the town already has enough shops selling cushions unable to cope with the rigours of daylight.

A hundred-strong queue of seasoned bargain hunters waited patiently for the speeches to end before sweeping down the aisles like Passover angels in leggings looking for a first-born.

Genevieve Fitzroy, a creole earring consultant from Tweedmouth, was thrilled to discover an ornate gilt mirror held together by badly angled staples and plastic wrapping.

“I’ve been looking for one of these for ages, ever since the identical one from Home Bargains broke last week when I coughed near it.” She went on to say: “I’m going to buy three this time as I am quite a heavy smoker.  At this price, I’d be mad not to.”

Store manager Jono Jenkins reported that multipacks of tissues were also proving a big hit, with three units flying off the shelves within the first couple of hours. “We were taking something of a risk filling the shelves with mattress-sized packs of pocket Kleenex, what with Savers, Home Bargains, and Homecare doing the same, but it seems nasal discharge is one market that just doesn’t flood.”

Berwick Town Council is promoting this latest in a long line of pile-it-high stores as another top tourist destination for the town, along with the office block proposed for the empty Kwik Save site.

Mayor Isabel Hunter said: “This is a good time for Berwick, a time of growth and regeneration. Myself and the Town Council are thrilled that Berwick has yet another outlet of affordable tat to lure tourists away from the ancient beauty of Alnwick and Bamburgh.”

She went on to say: “When the owners of B&M first approached us, they wanted the signage in heritage shades of Farrow & Ball but we at the Town Council insisted that it should be in keeping with Berwick’s image of indomitable strength in the face of implacable resistance. They came back with the Cillit Bang colour palette that you see now, which we think works really, really well.”

While response to the new store has been overwhelmingly positive from its employees, there are claims that B&M Bargains may not be the saviour of the town’s future it has promised to be.

“The economics don’t add up,” says Professor Jonty Hardcastle of the Berwick Institute of Thinking. “By simply saying something is good doesn’t actually make it good, counter-intuitive though that may seem. We just have to look at Jeremy Clarkson.

“Northumberland County Council says it’s a good thing to put offices on a prime town centre site rather than develop it as a tourist attraction, because they believe the tourist industry contributes less to the town’s prosperity than a single, existing firm of accountants with proven finite spending power. NCC is working on an outdated economic model that never existed which states that by relocating accountants to a town centre, they will feel compelled to spend more of their money in the nearest B&M Bargains store, thereby increasing the town’s average spend per capita and boosting the local economy.

“Put another way, Berwick’s future is dependent on employees of Greaves, West & Ayre indulging themselves in perpetuity with trays of Felix Sensations Sauce Surprise and silk orchids. Even a village idiot with nine fingers will tell you that doesn’t add up.”

Another bloody dust trap.

Just another bloody dust trap.

Mayor Hunter dismisses such thinking as scaremongering. “It’s sensationalist to call it the Walkergate Scandal. What some people don’t want to admit is that tourism and accountancy are not mutually exclusive.”

Ms Hunter goes on to detail a scheme whereby coaches could reverse from the new, toilet-free coach park on Chapel Street along to the Walkergate offices and then idle by the kerb for five minutes. Visitors could then be offered the opportunity to take photographs of the workers going for lunch.

“We’re going to call it BUS – Berwick Urban Safari. And it’s on a bus, which is a nice tie-in.

“In addition, we’re currently negotiating an exciting deal with Arch, Northumberland County Council and Greaves, West & Ayre that will allow tourists to use their facilities for a nominal charge of, say, 50 pence. That’s for use of the toilets, not the photocopiers. Obviously that would be extra.”

Lib Dem Councillor Gavin Jones, Berwick’s poster boy for the Kwik Save development, claims his wife’s position as consultant for GWA is nothing more than “a happy coincidence”, as is his likeness to Professor Quirrell, the cowardly turncoat in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Councillor Jones briefly appears agitated, scrubbing furiously at his hands with a pocket Kleenex.”Look, can we drop that, please? It was funny the first time, what with the John Lord Voldemort quip, but it’s wearing a bit thin now. Seriously.

“Northumberland County Council knows what it’s doing; it’s currently in the process of delivering a lovely flower bed on The Parade in which any tourist would be pleased to stub out their fags. It didn’t come cheap – that’s over £130,000-worth of topsoil right there, you’re welcome.

“People need to quit whinging. There’s more to growing an economy than encouraging middle-class people with disposable income to visit our town and spend, spend, spend. Sometimes it’s about… it’s about… something else. It’s… it’s about complicated stuff most people wouldn’t understand, like… stuff.

“Oh, bloody hell. What, will these hands ne’er be clean? Oooh, look. Three bottles of Cillit Bang for the price of two. Get in.”

For those stubborn stains.

For getting rid of those stubborn stains.


19 comments on “B&M Opening Hailed as Society Event of the Year

  1. My jaw is hurting from excessive undignified chortling. One of your best Ms Flyte.

  2. Fantastic, incisive reporting as usual. I couldn’t attend the opening ceremony due to a prior commitment of not being arsed. Since then I have bowed to peer pressure and comments like “oh you’ve got to go! It’s just like homebargains but bigger and with more expensive CCTV.”
    They do have an awful lot of cushions.
    Anyway, thanks again for a brilliant read, I don’t get out much.

    • Hi Mike

      I too am being pressured into the idea that this really is a must-see Berwick destination. So far I’m resisting the excitement, holding out until the Town Council see sense and open a department store dedicated to hi-vis work wear. There’s a suitable site on Bridge Street, I hear.

      Chastity x

      • Aye this lassie Chastity Flyte has 100% top marks regarding Hi-Vis wear, It should be made LAW to wear them Specially if you’re Hill Climbing, or riding a bike,Mob Scooter, (& also to wear a Safety Helmet) BE Seen, 1in 12 people know First Aid, (Utter disgrace) ST John Ambulance have a centre in Berwick, So there’s NO EXCUSE!

      • Dear DJ – may I call you DJ?

        Daily I plough through my in-box with a barely suppressed yawn but then, every so often, I get a mail from someone like you, someone who clearly has a firm grasp of the issues of the day and who is able to articulate those with no shortage of wit and vim. Bravo, sir! My day has brightened.

        Chastity x

  3. Fab idea…sack the people who work
    In the tat shops, close them down and fill the windows with life sized models of Snobs on pedastels dressed to kill. An excellent tourist event… Do Like you’re articles by the way. Just not sure about the change of tack in publishing real names..no guessing then not like in the past when we wondered who the awful woman was in the coffee shop..never did stop wondering who it was?

    • Oh, there are always real names. It just depends if you know those involved… 😉

      Chastity x

      • Wait, what? Is Jonty Hardcastle of the B.I.T. real or not?
        I think I may have been that woman in café sneerô (and I’m not a woman, it’s a glandular thing). Seriously I don’t give a flying coitus WHAT the manual says you have to call it, please may I be served with the LARGEST (sorry if my language offends) portion of caffeinated beverage that you are able to supply. This is why I refuse to patronise that establishment further. Don’t get me started on Costsomuch ‘Massimo’ Latte. If you really want to bring Continental Caffé Culture Consumerism to the heathen tribesmen (and women) of this proud land of reivers then you might want to invest in some 12kilowatt patio heaters and a massive awning for the outdoor seating.
        Right! Where’s my blood pressure pills?

  4. When i first read it I actually believed it!…. because it actually wouldn’t surprise me. I then continued reading and quickly realized that the BA could write anything as eloquent……brilliant read, makes me even more homesick….NOT!

  5. T he Council(s) should use up the empty spaces? shops etc & use them as offices, They should take themselves to London & see how they do their movements, & yes don’t forget to pay the congestion charge if you use your own car(s) That’s what we should have up here after all you’re still in England or are we? The A1 is London to Edinburgh (Always has been & always will be) So the bright spark who thinks it starts at Morpeth/Alnwick had better think again & get the facts right before they critisize.by getting the A1 done properly or join the dole queue & live on £53 a week.

  6. Totally believable, wish it wasn’t!

  7. As a former resident of Alnwick, I must point out that it also has shops stuffed full of cheap tat. There is a large Wilkinsons there and nobody piles ’em higher or sells ’em cheaper than Wilkos. It only opened after I moved to Berwick to get the benefit of Home Bargains, if Wilkos had been there then I would have stayed in Alnwick. I have tried B&M and Savers but can report that they are both more expensive than Home Bargains so I am sticking to what I know. Middle-class, moi? I’m afraid not.

  8. [sigh] I know now why I so miss Berwick..
    But why oh why are there no suggestions about what B and M actually might stand for?
    (I don`t mean what principled stand; rather what the letters stand for, d`uh!)
    And now just try: without using the words `Bowel` or `Motion`

  9. Now I realise what I miss most about Berwick…
    I am somewhat surprised, Chastity (or may I call you Chas?; or Titty?), that you miserably failed to give what the the B and the M stand for. Go on, I dare you. Without using the words `Bowel` or `Motion`.

    • Dear Anonymous

      To address your questions in the order in which they appear.

      1. No.
      2. No.
      3. I have two theories:
      i) B & M = BAM = another nod and wink to the clear inspiration of the great Barry Scott.
      (ii) The owners are drawing on the ancient Latin phrase “Brevis Anima Mortem”. Scholars argue over the precise definition, but it roughly translates as a “my soul dying every time I pop in”. (If you’re a Latin scholar, don’t write in. You’ll embarrass us both.)

      I do hope this answers your queries.

      Yours, Ms Flyte

  10. Just re read this…. “cushions unable to cope with the rigours of daylight.” You really are brilliant!

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