With identity politics taking ever greater importance in society and culture, it is only natural that we seek physical representations to use as shorthand symbols of the projected aspects of ourselves. How could you tell if someone supported the Repeal campaign? They'd perhaps have a signifying badge or a Repeal jumper. As an emigrant, how could you identify as Irish? You could own several giant multipacks of Tayto. In this scenario, your passport is worthless, for, unless you are in possession of a large tin of USA biscuits that will sit untouched for several years, before its sullied contents are one-day emptied and the husk used to store sewing materials and kept in the hot press.
While these symbols of national status, and of self-identification may be easy to acquire for those of us who have not fled these verdant shores, not so for those of us living abroad. If you left Ireland, I hope you made your peace with Cadet soda - exclusively handed out on cold days school sports days by disgruntled dads where the drink is somehow colder than the air around you; I hope you have come to terms with the fact that it will be many a month before you are to lay your eyes on a humble Chickatee again, and you better bloody well have acquiesced to the idea that, if you move abroad, you will likely be hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from the nearest, pineapple-flavoured, football-themed, Roy of the Rover bar.
For many Irish emigrés, coping with this separation is not easy. For years, it seems any perusal through social media will feature at least one image of a 'care-package' sent by benevolent parents to a friend abroad, the contents of which have only been mildly sullied by the fact that an entire bottle of Football Special burst over everything while in transit. Well now, at least for those Irish emigrés in London, there is a shop they can go to to sate their overly-nostalgic yearnings for Irish goods.
Brought to our attention by TV presenter Laura Whitmore, a shop has opened in the London Irish Centre - a non-profit organisation established to help support the Irish community in London.
She posted a photo of the 'siopa' on Instagram.