Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Fantasy Bob was not born to shop. In fact he has never fully understood the concept of shopping, an activity usually in his experience confined to a mad rush on Christmas Eve. Leisure shopping is a contradiction in terms. But he acknowledges that many of his fellow citizens are otherwise inclined and daily throng to shop till they drop.

Edinburgh's Princes Street - FB investigates
Fantasy Bob is therefore taken aback by a report of a survey that suggests that a higher proportion of shoppers in Scotland than any other region considered that their local high street is useless. The report goes on to describe Scottish shoppers as the least happy in the UK.

Why are the shoppers of Scotland so down in the dumps? Are they right to think that the shopping streets are useless. FB thought that some careful investigation into the issue was required. With his team of crack researchers  he has therefore investigated Edinburgh’s Princes Street, once hailed as the capital’s leading mecca for shoppers.

He tramped the length of the Street looking for a few simple everyday purchases. These are the results of his search.

FB's willow of choice is the Gray Nicols Nitro.  Such an excellent product would be bound to be readily available.  But his request for a Nitro met with an emergency call to the police and he had a lot of talking to do to convince the officers that he was not after nitroglycerene and that he was not a man with a grievance seeing bomb making materials.  His confidence shaken, he had the lingering sense of being followed for the rest of the day.
The Nitro -
confused with
 bomb making equipment

No bats were in stock the length of the street.  He turned his attention to pads.  He was variously offered i-Pads, mouse pads, corn pads, face pads, scouring pads, brake pads, sleeping pads, drawing pads and incontinence pads. He was not convinced any would offer protection from demon fast bowlers. Similarly there were all manner of boxes available but none to which FB would entrust the protection of his crown jewels.

He changed tack – if players’ needs are not provided for perhaps those of doughty groundsmen might be. Surely he would be able to find a roller – heavy or light, he did not mind. His hopes rose in one store as the assistant nodded enthusiastically and moved to the storeroom purposefully. Hopes that were soundly dashed when he was offered equipment whose purpose seemed to be for curling hair, and for which FB's gleaming pate had no obvious use.
Not to be had on Princes Street

FB’s search for a long list of other essential items also proved fruitless. Bails, balls, ball counters, boundary flags, scorebooks, scoreboards, numbers for scoreboards, scarifiers, grass seed, top dressing, stumps (conventional and spring). Shop after shop. Blank after blank.

By this stage FB’s morale was sagging. The will to live was rapidly leaving his soul. He began to understand the views of his fellow shoppers. The high street did indeed seem useless. It did not provide for basic needs. How had things got this bad?

It was then that salvation came. He made a critical discovery. Empire biscuits can be purchased in Princes Street. They are available at Jenners and Marks and Spencer.

Scottish High Streets Useless? Not when there are empire biscuits to be found.

M&S Empire Biscuits - saviour of the High Street


  1. FB's research confirms that the shopping gene is generally incompatible with the Y chromosome. Since the demise of Lillywhites many decades ago, Princes Street has offered little interest to alpha males such as FB. Mrs FB will naturally gravitate towards George Street, where FB will find even less to interest him. Incidentally, I would have thought that incontinence pads could be useful apparel when facing very fast bowling.

    1. Many thanks. FB will bear your suggestion in mind the next time he sees an opposition 11 year old mark out a 50 metre run up.