A really good weekends trading can be followed by unpredictable week days. As yet there appears no rhyme nor reason whether its tumbleweed or customers whisking through our door. This has the potential to freak us out a bit, if we let unrestrained mental proliferation get a grip. It's become a regular practise to disengage mood and sense of well being from the shops daily sales, otherwise it will be positivity when good, paucity when bad. That way madness lies. At the moment town seems subdued, what with the poor weather, the ever expanding sinkhole and perhaps a Brexit infused mood of depression that's draining wallets and purses of confident optimism. Anyway. one of our first lessons has been you don't open the door and hey presto, it just works, you have to work hard at building any business. That process will undoubtedly be ongoing and at times emotionally testing.
Previous tenants of our unit said they did two thirds of there business through stuff they had on show outside. All The Courtyard stores do do the same. We've devised a plan for outside displays of lower price point items to lure folk into the shop, hoping to pull this together over the next few weeks. But in the meantime we're endeavouring to keep our feelings in check and out of any mental sinkholes we might encounter. Our shop fit makes us look higher end than we actually are, but apart from selling stuff with hare prints on, beach huts, seagulls or seahorses, throwing a dishevelled carpet down and being more chaotic in our merchandising, there's not much to be done about that. We are what we are, what we need to do is convince more people that what we are is for them too. All the stores in our mall when they started out only covered their costs in their first year, so our short term aim is to at least do that.
We are slowly getting home back to being tidier and cleaner, plus attending to all the other things that fell into neglect whilst we were focused on shopfitting.We decided initially to open the shop seven days a week just to see what custom was actually like. Ten days or so in, we'd become so emotionally frayed we decided we just had to take a regular day off together. We settled on our provisional opening hours and will be closed on Mondays. One of the things that's clear from observing other shopkeepers in The Courtyard is that your opening hours can be treated as a flexible arrangement, close early if and when you feel the need too. For our first day off we travelled to Lavenham and Bury St Edmunds, for no other reason than a change of scenery. It was the first of the endless torrential rain days, everywhere we went was drenched, as were we. The bliss of freedom can simultaneously also feel foolhardy.
|It started like this|
Quiet little Sheringham has acquired a sinkhole slap bang in the middle of the High Street. Its hard to tell if its affected trade our end of town, but either side of 't' ole' it has halved the shops takings their. Two shops can't open at all and you really feel for them, as the date by which the hole problem will be resolved keeps moving further away, engulfing the profitable summer season trade. Initially the road signage was lacking and visitors were confused where to go. When the signage did arrive it was a bit OTT and gave the impression the whole town was closed to traffic, which it wasn't. It has now settled down to informative but sensible. The Town Council has launched a push with the backing of Norfolk daily newspapers to publicise that Sheringham is open for business, I'm not sure that this will be effective or what is really needed.
|Its now like this|
Meanwhile the size of the cavernous sinkhole, if we are to believe the melodramatic newspaper reports, is ever expanding. We've yet to hear the survey results as to the cause and who is responsible. At the moment officials are being extremely circumspect, fearing the hell of attributing liability prematurely. But you can't claim for loss of business until someone is found to be at fault. In the meantime retailers hold onto a wing of positivity with the hope the hole and the hole in their finances will be plugged soon.
Recent recurring night time worries have included :~ Nigel Farage becoming Prime Minister, homosexuality being criminalised, feebly railing against Brexit and where the hell we are heading as a country. Credible political options ignored, the staggering lack of flexibility, imagination and vision etc etc. I also had a recurring dream of people I know in the Triratna Buddhist Order accusing me of betrayal and treachery. Quite what that's about I haven't quite fathomed, but we were coming up to the first anniversary of my resigning from the Order at the beginning of June. I've just parked that in a convenient lay by for now.
I've been reading about the history of Walsingham as a place of pilgrimage. This book by Micheal Rear is the best written and most comprehensive I've read. Like most books on the subject it inevitably veers away from historical fact into Christian theological and devotional issues which I do find a bit baffling. But I have learnt a bit about Anglo Catholicism and the The Oxford Movement, of which the revival of veneration and pilgrimages to Our Lady Of Walsingham is a significant achievement of. Though I think I've read enough about Walsingham and Our Lady for now.
|Our Lady of Walsingham|
Its still unclear what the significance of my response to this figure is or what its pointing towards. Perhaps I do not need to fully know, the figure of Our Lady exists primarily on the level of myth, not rational logic. I have noticed iconographic similarities between Our Lady of Walsingham and the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha. Each has a staff symbolic of purity and sovereignty in the right hand and holding a symbol of wisdom, Christ or a Chintamani, cupped in the left hand. She is seated on a throne of wisdom, he on a lotus throne the symbol of Enlightenment. Her throne is placed on top of a 'toadstone' a symbol for the evil which she has conquered. His sits upon a symbolised version of a mound of Kusha grass, a traditional meditation seat where he has conquered mental defilements. The uprights of her throne have seven rings on them that represent the seven sacraments or practises of Catholicism. He holds a monks staff which bears six rings to represent the six perfections/practises of a Buddhist, for any Bodhisattva dedicated to saving all sentient beings.
The mythic background of Ksitigarbha is interesting as the only Buddhist archetype that moved from originally being a female figure to becoming a male one. There is an echo of this in that one of Ksitigarbha's epithets is still Earth Womb. This feminine original is referred to as the Sacred Girl, who goes into the hell realms in order to save her mother but ends up vowing to save all beings from suffering. This act of reaching down in order to save is traditionally represented in Buddhist iconography by the left foot stepping onto a lotus blossom. Devotions to Our Lady often focus on her role as the vessel or route to salvation, the go between, as intermediary between Heaven and Hell on Earth, and vice versa. Such salvific acts of compassion are a theme that Ksitigarbha shares with Our Lady of Walsingham. So there it is, for what its worth. This of course may all be cock.