The more I visit the town centre, the more depressed I get. It's not because I live up north, but because I moved into a shopping mall without realising.
Every time I walk down the main street, I see a new shop announcing a closing down sale, an empty carcass where another stood, and a new Costa. Things aren't going well for the town I've been visiting for the last five years, which I surmise from the four types of store that predominate:
I can see the future, and in it the human race has become totally sedentary, recognisable by old clothes, bloodshot eyes, and cheap DVDs.
- Pound shops. Everything in my town can be bought for a single pound, it would seem. The interiors are like Aladdin's Cave, with all kinds of cheap tat, from tea-towels to DVDs, to coffee, to toys, all for the price of a loaf of bread. There are a few super-pound shops, where items are more expensive, but the general thrust is that of cheapness.
- Coffee shops. It wasn't that long ago that there was one coffee house, and that was inside a bank. Now there are eight, and a new Costa Coffee opened last week (there's another Costa inside the Waterstones). Everyone is no doubt completely wired.
- Charity shops. Perhaps this is indicative of the disposable society we live in, but there is a cornucopia of charity shops brimming with second-hand clothes and book, with new ones opening all the time. There's a new YMCA shop across the road from my bank, and it was from here that I bought a comic book of Transformers: The Movie (1985) and The Crucible script for less than a pint of milk. Two of the stores are large enough to house furniture, and I bought an armchair from one of them.
- Bakers. It's nigh on impossible to stand anywhere in the town where a Greggs, Hampsons, or Greenhalghs can't be seen. The proximity to Wigan, home of the World Pie-Eating Championships, is palpable. I don't know what amazes me more, that they don't go out of business, or that everyone I see isn't morbidly obese.