Cornershop Heroes #3: the Street Sweeper


Every cornershop relies on a network of corner-shaped professionals. In this thrilling new mini-series we meet some of the behind-the-scenes men and women that keep the indie retail world going.

Most shop-shaped stuff is within the shopkeeper’s control: how the shop looks, works, what it sells… But when it comes increasing footfall on the nation’s the high streets and bringing the punters to the area in the first place, he can at best hope for co-operation with his fellow traders and a decent, forward looking, financially flush council.
We are very lucky where we are, as our fellow traders are the biz. And the council…well, they get some stuff right. Occasionally. One thing we can’t fault them on is their street cleaning.

It doesn’t take long for unattended, unswept streets to attain a state of litter anarchy. Leave it a day, and there are fast food wrappers blowing along the gutters like urban tumble weed, and the pigeons have declared a public peck-fest. STREET SWEEPERS ARE VERY IMPORTANT. And our local ones are all ace. Cheerful, thorough, obliging (that means not leaving ugly piles of bin bags for collection right outside our shop) and thoughtful (that means sweeping in between the metal frames of our shutters).

The gentleman in the picture is Martin Millet. He works the afternoon shifts in our patch, and tells us that he really likes his job. He’s been at it for three years, and in all the time he’s been passing the shop he has unfailingly been a smiley-sweeper. The only bit he doesn’t like, unsurprisingly, is the cold. No amount of (dayglow) jackets and (council issue) gloves can entirely keep out the creeping cold for anyone who works the streets during a city Winter.

We asked him to regale us with tales of unusual roadkill or unexpected finds in pavement cracks and manhole covers: sadly he had none. But he did have a strange twinkle in his eye when he was speaking to us….

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