When I was a boy, living in my home village in the heart of East Yorkshire, I would often visit our local shops. In those days the village had a population of 350 to 400 but we had six shops and a cafe. It seems almost incredible because today the village has a population of 2500 and there is only one shop.
The three shops I visited most often were Mrs Austwick's sweet shop, The Post Office run by Mrs Rosling and the general grocery shop run by Mr Peers. Many is the time that my mother would send me to Mr Peers's shop with a list or going further back in time I would accompany her there with my hand in hers.
Mr Peers always wore a light brown shop coat. A bell above the door rang when you went inside. The shop's aroma was a mixture of everything in there from fresh bread to ham that was cut freshly on a lethal slicer and from apples to biscuits that you bought by weight from big wholesale tins.
Mr Peers was not a jovial man as I recall but he was polite and friendly. He gave his customers the time of day as pleasantries were exchanged along with current village news and local gossip. That was part of the shopping experience. Items bought were placed in one's basket - for there were no plastic bags - and then Mr Peers would calculate the bill on his ancient till with its brass number buttons and the little window at the top where the total would pop up on little white wafers made of tin.
Fast forward to 2020.
This afternoon I visited a crowded "Aldi" discount supermarket to pick up a few things, including batteries, fresh pasta and a bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Then I waited at one of the check-out conveyor belts. Soon it was my turn.
The young shop assistant didn't say a word to me as my few items were scanned very swiftly and then he said, "Cash or card?" as I hurried to get my purchases in the plastic bag I had just taken from my pocket. No doubt as "Aldi" employee guidelines recommend, he wanted me out of there as quickly as possible and he looked at me with evident disdain as I grabbed the bottle of wine because he was already scanning the next shopper's load and I was getting in the way.
Perhaps I should have tried to engage him in conversation - echoing the pleasant ambience once experienced in Mr Peers's shop. I might have asked about the weather or what he thought about the assassination of Qassem Soleimani under the direct instructions of Donald Trump or about what it is like to work for "Aldi".
Yes - shopping is certainly different these days.