If anyone landed from Mars over the last week or so, they would think that where I live has constant wall to wall sunshine and is populated not only with humans but with millions of little black beetles.

A normal British summer is two sunny days and a thunderstorm but this year we are having one of those very strange ones where the sun shines for weeks at a time. The last time we had such a spell like this was back in the summer of 1976 and so I may well not see another.

This year we are also experiencing another uncommon occurrence. We seem to be plagued by little black beetles. Apparently they are pollen beetles, a generic term for a group of beetles that live of pollen unsurprisingly, of which the most common is Meligethes aeneus. Every so often the conditions are just right and they flourish in a way similar to plagues of locusts and lemmings The population of the beetles expands during periods of warm weather and so the two unusual events are related.

The point of my story is that we see these as unusual occurrences. They are not normal in a human timescale. If we were beatles then we would not know whether things were always this way or not. Yet there are many things that take place outside of human timescales, that make us believe that the times we live in are normal. The citizens of Pompeii, for example, lived with what they thought was a dormant volcano for hundreds of years before it erupted in CE 79.

I wonder then as we see the momentous changes in retail and the marked effects that this is having upon our town centres, whether this is a temporary blip in an otherwise normal trading style or of the long period of the high street shop was just an unusual occurrence. Perhaps the retail we thought of as normal was just a fad and we are entering a different period of normality. Only history will tell.

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