I’ve never been to the north of England (unless you count visits to my Luton cousins) but I hear it’s fairly grim. That wasn’t quite the word that Mr Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, used when he dropped by just before the recess for some salad ingredients to take back to Lancashire, but a nod is as good as a wink, eh? After all, what’s the point in investing £50bn in HS2 if it’s not to help those poor people flee to the south as quickly as possible, you know what I mean?

In anticipation of this flood of economic refugees, your Pat has already stocked up on whippet food and onions. Well, I reasoned that what with this being Westminster there wouldn’t be a shortage of tripe any time soon.

If you’re wondering how I came to be reflecting on the fate of damp and chilly boreals, it’s because I’m a little concerned about Booths. In case you haven’t heard it’s the ‘Waitrose of the north,’ which I take to mean prices that make even Pat’s Mart look affordable.

In any case, I read in the papers that Booths had been experiencing a purely temporary trading slowdown for the past year-and-a-half and had called in Grant Thorntons for help. Quite what a toffee company is going to do I don’t know, but having watched Corrie last night and concluded that D&S Alahan’s corner store is probably not going to represent a serious challenge, I have written to the Booth family and offered them asylum in the form of a reverse takeover.

In exchange for freehold on their entire real estate portfolio (worth upwards of £200, I hear) I have offered a ticket on the first HS2 out of there. I haven’t heard back, but perhaps email hasn’t got to Preston yet.

Pat Smart

Exploits of a Westminster c-store owner