Barry Peters: California has echoes of Bury St Edmunds, 2020

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I’ve always thought people made a lot of fuss about jet-lag – just sleep it off! But having returned from the US after a stay with family in California, I now know what it’s all about.

Prior to sleep deprivation, as I was basking (yes, like a whale) in the 100-plus degree sunshine, I started thinking about how different Bury St Edmunds and West Suffolk is to the America of 2012...and how long it will be before we catch up.

Think about it. Who would have thought we would have had a Starbucks on every High Street just 20 years ago? And who would have contemplated paying more than £3 for a coffee, back then (admittedly with a few trimmings)? Now it’s commonplace.

Here’s my top five predictions for how we will mimic the States in the next decade:

1 Taco Bell: A takeaway Mexican-style diner. As our palettes become ever more eclectic, this fast food chain will add to its three UK outlets.

2 Roads: US roads are huge 12-lane highways in places. Already our M25 is creaking under the pressure of cars galore and local roads such as the A14 will need to grow to meet our growing reliance on the motor car.

3 Politics: The US presidential race has been dirty. Although I can’t imagine MPs David Ruffley and Matthew Hancock losing safe seats, I can see future election campaigns becoming ever more glitzy.

4 Service: Compared to the gushing interactions in most (if not all) US stores, UK shop staff are somewhat reserved. I can see some US retail guru grabbing our UK shop execs and changing this.

5 Air conditioning: As we get warmer as a nation, A/C will move from the workplace to the home. More expense.

Welcome to Downtown West Suffolk, 2020.

 Barry Peters is editor of the Bury Free Press.