Armley Town Street

DIARY | 15 Minute City?

Someone has a bit of a silly rant in the queue at Armley Lidl

We needed some emergency cat food yesterday – the gourmet, bespoke, nutritionally perfect stuff we get delivered every fortnight had been demolished days early by the greedy buggers – so I found myself in the check out queue at Lidl’s at tea time.

It’s never a pleasant experience. There’s always someone chuntering about how long they have to wait, why can’t they open another till, why is it always busy when I want to shop, blah bloody blah. And I generally manage to restrain myself from explaining the business model. Lidl is cheap because for one thing they don’t splurge on staffing costs; if you want fast, fuck off to Waitrose.

Last night was a special treat of a queueing experience. There was one bloke in the queue who wanted to give us his opinion on 15 minute cities. And he’d obviously done the research. A dozen or more youtube vids I’d reckon.

I don’t think he was conversing with anyone in particular, but something about having to wait a few minutes to purchase a six pack of a made up brand of lager and an assortment of ready meals seemed to ignite a dumpster of festering resentments that had long been accumulating inside of him.

This isn’t one of those conspiracy theories that has particularly grabbed my attention (come on, there’s so many UFO stories in the news right now, you have to have some standards.) So I didn’t really catch much of the subtleties of his argument. But the council came in for some stick – roadworks are a dastardly plot against the hard-working motorist. Environment activists were making his life hell – even though he’d only ever seen the Just Stop Oil protests on telly. Something, something, something about surveillance. And Europe… I couldn’t grasp why Europe was the problem, as he was in Lidl, buying German lager and food produced in the Netherlands. I don’t think the Illuminati is behind cut-priced retail outlets in the less well-off parts of town. Or is that just what they want us to think!

What struck me most was his lament about driving. It took him half an hour to get to work. And 20 minutes to divert to Lidl to do his shopping. Only to stand in a queue for 10 bloody minutes!

I could empathise. I can see why this would be stressful. If only there was something that could be done.

Personally, I’ve not thought a lot about the 15 minute city concept, but even so I can think of a couple of things that make me like the idea.

First, if you own a yacht, a private aeroplane, or regularly travel by helicopter, being restricted to 15 minutes is going to be a right pisser.

Anything that pisses off the super-rich parasitic class can’t be a bad idea (and yes, I know, they aren’t the ones who’ll be limited, it’s just an amusing thought.)

Second, I’m lazy. I can’t think of any ideological reason I’d be for or against a 15 minute city, it’s just idleness, indolence, and a general inertia. If I can get what I need within a short walk, why not? And if it comes to my doorstep, even better.

Take some recent purchases. A bottle of Malbec, a packet of matcha tea, and a bag of mung beans.

I bought the wine at Lidl, a 5 minute walk down the hill. Obviously the grapes are grown in Argentina but I can’t see anything in the 15 minute city rules that would stop this. It’s not cheating.

Same with the tea. Grown in Japan (I think; the labelling is vague) but it came in the post. I can’t see Amazon being put out of business by 15 minute cities.

And I got the legumes at the local Nisa, which I can literally see from my front door. I have no idea where mung beans come from – my guess is they aren’t a crop that could cope with a West Yorkshire climate – but until the collapse of capitalism (which does feel increasingly imminent) I’m pretty sure I can source all my sprouting necessities within a short walk.

It’s all good here in Armley.

Of course there are other things that make up a 15 minute city, like schools, jobs, health care, recreational facilities, green spaces and whatnot, and I personally cannot wait till West Leeds gets the investment it will require to make a 15 minute neighbourhood work round here. 

Then maybe the guy in Lidl can rest easy. And leave the car at home.

I doubt the roadworks will ever be fixed though. I blame the globalist cyclists and their skinny little wheels!