Tommy Steele! Barbara Streisand! And the reason for this jolly little clip? No, it isn’t gratuitous entertainment just to get you to read this blog some more. Well, there may be a bit of that in our reasoning. But really it is to prove that traders can dance. And that some of them can sing as well (even if it is just to celebrate a day off). And to remind you of just how jolly good a good musical can be. Go on, admit it: that had you tapping your toes like a good ‘un, and misting over with nostalgia for an age that you don’t actually remember.
You see, the average high street is full of talent. Well, okay, this corner shopkeeper sings like a frog and dances like Pinocchio – but that’s irrelevant. If every shop has a story to tell, it certainly has a song to sing and a dance to dance as well. A high street has a real vibe and rhythm to it. Admittedly we are spoiled in Peckham as our shops are mostly independent and full of character. And somewhere like Southall would find it an absolute cinch. But even your average parade of shops has something worth singing about. Rumi gets it about right in his poem (even if he wasn’t talking specifically about shops):
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it and feel the delight
Of walking in the noisy street,
And being the noise.
So we got to thinking that we want to see more shop dances. (You’ll find shopkeepers think some very strange thoughts during the course of a day: it’s ‘cos they live in a microcosm.) There’s always the flash mob, but unfortunately they are usually choreographed by marketing teams rather than real dance pros. No: we want a proper modern ballet, about fifteen minutes worth, produced to celebrate our nation of shopkeepers. With a special soundtrack ‘n’ all – something fast and jolly and uplifting (we are thinking Karl Jenkins meets Sander van Doorn with a bit of the Afro-Celts thrown in). It would have feature slots for the butchers with their flashing knives, and the fishmongers in their wellies, and the chefs. It would have green grocers, and jewellers, and chemists. It would have colourful and appropriate costumes. And plenty of different nationalities, to represent, er, multiculturalism (which in spite of some current thinking is alive and well and living on a high street near you).
So if any of you know a good choreographer/composer….