We’ve gone a bit bonkers and decided to do a 20 mile night hike. As you do, like. It is of course for charity: it’s in aid of Maggie’s Centres, which are doing awesome things for cancer sufferers up and down the country. They are creating an environment (and maybe in time a society?) where the C word is no longer taboo, and the afflicted can go to chat and chill. Our friends at www.londonist.com did it last year: this year it is our turn. Mrs. Shopkeeper likes a challenge, you see. Something to aim for and to practise for. Being able to tell people she’s in training makes her feel, well, important. Sporty, even. It also offers resolution for a long-standing tiff between Mr. and Mrs. Shopkeeper: the latter claims she walks miles and miles every day just running her shop, and Mr. S., casting aspersions on this claim, has suggested that if this is the case, she should find the night hike a doddle…. Of course there is a lot more to it than that. A shopkeeper sees a lot of people. If it’s a good shop, some of those people come back, and become regulars. Over a period of time, a shopkeeper in this manner gets to witness snapshots of their customers’ lives. Children are born, exams are passed, couples get engaged or separate, jobs and circumstances change. And sometimes people get sick. In the 10 years (yes, ten years!) since we opened our little corner shop, we have seen many of our customers ail, and fight, and recover. And one or two of them who didn’t recover. A shopkeeper observes these things: the shaking hand, the unnaturally bright smile, the over-protective relatives, the thinning hair. We may not say anything, but we think them a hug, and pray for them. When customers are hard up, or looking for something, or are lost, or need to borrow a pen, or want a hand across the road, we can help. But when they are ill, we are as helpless as the next human being and it is frustrating. Well, this is our stab at doing something positive. But we need your help. You are welcome to join our team (which currently comprises Mrs. Shopkeeper, Lisette, Mark and Ruth). Or you could donate something. Please just click on the dinky button thing above. ‘Cos if you don’t sponsor us, we won’t meet our target and it will all have been in vain. Although of course it will mean that Mrs. S. wins her bet with Mr. S….but that’s a rubbish reason to walk 20 miles, let’s face it.