Actually, it's not so much the purchases that please me as that flimsy but regular connection you make with shopkeepers, the meagre but frequent interchange that builds up somehow into a kind of indefinable relationship that isn't friendship but means you don't forget each other - or possibly it's a one-way street ie you don't forget them.
I remember, for example, Ted, who had a little vegetable shop - more of a cavern really - on the corner of our street in Chelsea when I was young - and so does Fiona McCarthy, who, in The Last Curtsey, wrote about him at surprising length, considering he was just a greengrocer and her book was supposed to be about the demise of the London season . Sadly, I don't suppose he remembers either of us at all. Worse still to contemplate is the probability that not only does he not remember us but he does not remember anyone, because he's actually not here any more, but up in a spud-filled lair in some corner of heaven, charming the angels instead.
And even if Ted is still here, his shop certainly isn't - such places are all but gone in England, I fear. Maybe the place in Bishop's Waltham that my aunt used to take me to is still going -there were labels stuck in all the different fruits and vegetables, showing their provenance and the resulting combination of 'Israel ', 'South Africa' and Spain' with 'Botley', struck me as gloriously bathetic - but I suspect it has since been steamrollered by the kinds of ruthless operations that shattered poor Tom Good's dreams of surplus riches: