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One Good Turn

Foxglove

Foxglove

This picture is the result of this Foxglove growing in a convenient position, so that I was able to stick the camera right up its nose. The really interesting thing is the little hairs, almost like a turnstile across the entrance to each flower. The bee lands on the lip of the flower and, as all bees can’t resist a new puzzle – to take back to the beehive, they become intrigued by the pattern of dots ahead of them. They push inwards, trying to discover some system or reason for the pattern. Totally flummoxed, they give up and stop for a drink at the bar, there’s no one else in though, so they don’t stay long. They make their way out, not realising that their activity has been recorded by the computer and the statistics have already calculated what the bee will purchase on its next trip to the shops.

If you want someone to blame for all this, Clarence Saunders is your man. He worked in the wholesale grocery business, selling to small grocers. He decided to solve the twin horns of the small business dilemma, high overheads and getting paid (no change there then), he tried various ideas but in 1916 he set up his most successful, Piggly Wiggly. This was a grocer with limited staff, pre-packed goods, a turnstile at the entrance with a pile of shopping baskets nearby.

And of course, a cashier at the exit.

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