Some people claim to be able to remember the first time they smelled a honeysuckle or heard a nightingale sing. But many of my stand-out memories of 'first's are unashamedly commercial, and probably entirely alien to a younger generation that has been brought up with these institutions.
I remember my first visit to a supermarket. No, don't laugh. When I was young we did our food shopping in the evocatively titled Home and Colonial Stores. It smelled of spices, and you were served from behind a counter (sometimes by my auntie). Really. The first supermarket in Rochdale (as far as I'm aware) was a non-chain number by the name of Lennons. There was quite an excitement when it was opened. It made the news. It was probably no bigger than a Tesco Local, but it seemed immense, and the concept of helping yourself from shelves into a trolley was simply bizarre.
Moving on, I also remember my first encounter with McDonalds, I think at one of the first in the UK that had opened in London - my memory places it somewhere in the vicinity of Piccadilly Circus, but that could be iffy. When all we'd had before for fast(ish) food was table service Wimpy Bars and Fish and Chips, this was both alien and wonderful. Yes, McDonalds was exotic. Think on that and weep.
Perhaps the most surprising memory is a missing one. I can't remember my first visit to an Indian restaurant. Younger inhabitants of Rochdale might be surprised to learn that they just didn't exist there back in the 60s. We had a Chinese restaurant, but that was the height of exoticism when it came to eateries. (There were far fewer places to eat out, of course. The thought of a pub offering more than a curled up sandwich or a scotch egg would be laughable.) Some time between the age of 18 and 22 I had my first Indian meal, but I can't remember it, and that's irritating.
Am I uniquely business-minded in my 'first's memories, or do you have commercial reminiscences too? Do tell.
Image from Wikipedia