Last night I headed out on the utter fool’s errand of shopping at Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford City. A place so devoid of any of the warmth capable of a city that I feel it should be stripped of at least part of its name.
My issue isn’t wholly with Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford City, it is partly with retail, partly with our consumerism and mostly within myself. There’s something terribly unnerving about Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford City and I got thrown into the Sarlacc pit.
I don’t like shopping, in fact I would go further to say I don’t generally like large groups of people. Don’t get me wrong, people can do weird and wonderful things en masse, they can dance, they can riot, they can change the world. My issue is with the strip light nudity with which people choose to expose themselves in the eternal search for fulfilment.
This may all be getting a bit heavy from my starting point.
I struggle to understand what my issue is with the false-eyelashed, tangerine skinned who seem to frequent not just the stores as customers but also represent them behind the counters. I don’t know why I hate guys with douchey pencil beards and pseudo-ironic baseball caps on backwards. There is a part of me that is concerned it comes with my growing age. I’m getting ever distant from the coming of age tales I find myself exploring. I don’t like the overuse of the abbreviation, the selfie, the hashtag. I don’t even know what a Macklemore is. I find myself telling people music is not the same as was it in 2003. A Google search reveals the biggest songs of 2003 were The Ketchup Song (Las Ketchup), Dilemma (Nelly featuring Kelly Roland) and If You’re Not The One (Daniel Beddingfield) so what the fuck am I actually on about. I have to admit it. I am getting older.
This week I have been reading the brilliant and I am hoping post-modern novel Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis. In it he discusses his own heyday of the 1980’s when he was running around LA having sex with everyone and doing all the drugs. Now the eighties are viewed with the kind of nostalgic disdain that Student Union theme nights are built upon. It’s seen as being kitsch. Will there be an emerging theme of 00’s nights where Linkin Park, Papa Roach and Limp Bizkit are pumped into bleeding ear canals while everyone pretends they don’t still have Hybrid Theory, Infest and Chocolate Starfish on their iPod. Oh wait, that’s the Brush as it is now.
Back to shopping and I found myself in Primark, eager to step up my inward hatred. Stepping into that store is like falling into the primordial ooze, but the prices are good.
I found myself dodging around trolleys, dollies and buggies in search of the bargains of the day. It was only when I found myself staring down my own grey-faced reflection in the changing room mirror, a popper buttoned denim shirt clad over my skin that I realised something had gone horribly wrong.
In the queue for the tills (once I had picked up my uniform plain v-neck t-shirts (like a wayward, talented, thin, handsome Simon Cowell)) I watched the man in front of me feel his way through each upturned bucket of impulse buys stationed along the railed off holding pens. He kept going for hair scrunchies, placing two fingers into the coil before shaking his head and returning them to the box. I assumed he was looking for stylish discount cock rings.
In H&M I tried to indulge the till droog in conversation. There was a song playing in the store, a song he must have heard on a loop so many times that it had lost any kind of meaning it could have ever held.
Me: Do you know what song this is?
Till Droog: This particular song?
Me: Well yes.
Till Droog: No, but if you go on our Facebook page there is a link to our music we play in stores.
Me:Oh okay, so it isn’t from a particular album or anything?
Till Droog: This particular song?
Me: Yes, this particular song.
Till Droog: No.
I think my issues with the world are really that I don’t feel a part of it. I watch the eternally midday sun lit emporium of squalor and I don’t feel what any of the other people seen to be expressing. I’m not excited about it. It’s a thing I have to do, as quickly as possible, and then I want to get out.
I see the queues of girls getting French pedicures, the gangs of boys checking out said girls with their JD Sports bags swung in front of them. I see parents struggling with children and children struggling with parents and I wonder what the fuck it can all possibly mean, and if this is our intended purpose and why I can’t help but feel removed from it, as though I’m watching myself be disgusted by it all.