On Boxing Day I went out to the retail park a mile or so down the road from me to exchange some Christmas presents at Next. It made me quite sad, and not just because it was raining so heavily that my fur coat ended up looking like a cat that had fallen into a bath. (That bit was my fault for not dressing more sensibly).
Retail parks are just so soulless, so lacking in any sort of character or hope or joy. The name gets your hopes up falsely too. Retail park. You go there feeling positive, and then there’s not even any swings or slides or things to climb on, (other than parked cars), and no rolling green hills or nature trails. It’s all just a big trick.
It was about 3.30pm by the time we went to Next, and inside the shop was just as depressing, with half empty rails of unwanted clothes and stickers on the floor showing people where to stand to wait for hours to hand over their cash. At least by late afternoon it was quiet – in the morning the store had been operating a ‘one in one out’ system, so desperate were people to get out of the house and scramble about between the racks of odd-shaped jeans, available only in sizes 6 or 20.
Retail parks make me imagine conversations like this:
Mummy: So darling, what do you want to do when you grow up?
Small girl with pigtails: Well Mummy, I want to work the majority of my working hours in a job that I find tedious at best, and then in my free time I’m going to go to a vast expanse of concrete on the outskirts of town and give all the money I earn to large corporations who already have more than they need, in return for some disposable crap I don’t want.
Mummy (fixed smile and empty eyes): Well that sounds lovely sweetheart.
Small girl with pigtails (small silent tear running down cheek): I’m going to be just like you Mummy.
Now I could well be reading too much into this – I do have a tendency to overdramatise – but I can’t help it. Surrounded by blank faced parents, staring at the piles of cheap TVs, wondering which to buy to sit their bored looking children in front of, I can’t help but want to throw myself onto the nearest cut-price blender.
Am I over reacting? How do retail parks make you feel?