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Let’s raise a cheer for the small traders

Down the covered market, in the next aisle over to the pork butchers and two stalls down from the watch repair man, you’ll find my favorite business of the moment. You can’t miss the place, it’s a forest of curtains and posh frocks on hangers behind which sits (and here’s a word you don’t come across often these days) a seamstress, head bowed over her sewing machine or standing at her ironing board.

For a couple of pounds, she’ll replace and sew on a missing shirt button, or mend a zip, or repair a trouser hem and generally fix the small nips and tucks that only come to light when we’re suited and booted and ready for our first business meeting of the day. I say “we” though in truth you’ll rarely see another man waiting for a quick sew job.

I like the market hall because it’s full of the sort of small independent business we used to get on Britain’s high streets before they became homogenized and full of same-y betting shops, pound shops and massively expensive coffee shops.

So I say let’s raise a cheer for the small enterprises of England, the sole traders, the independents, consultants, freelancers, one-man-and-his-dog outfits… long may they prosper and – oops! –if you’ll excuse me, a button has just come off my jacket and I need to catch the seamstress before she clocks off for the day…

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