This week I had a day when I didn't have to go into London at all. Now I am in Kent and didn't really want to spend my day off travelling anywhere, so I took a walk. The people with whom I am staying live very near Bluewater shopping centre, one of the largest shopping centres in Europe I believe. Now, I know that many of you couldn't care less about a shopping centre, and I am absolutely with you on this, I hate shopping, I don't like consumerism, I don't enjoy battling through crowds for something I neither want nor need. But on this particular occasion, curiosity overcame my natural reluctance. I wanted to see this Cathedral to consumerism. And Cathedral it is with no shortage of worshippers.
Some attempt has been made to make it look like it is a rural setting - artificial lake with a bridge accross, trees planted around. All in attempt to confuse people into thinking they are having a day out in the great out-doors combined with a shopping trip - it doesn't work and leaves me cold.
What always surprises me are the amount of people in these places, crowds and crowds all with bags. Are we really in a recession?
I had a fascinating time looking in the shop windows at all the items I don't want and chuckling about some of the advertising slogans making you believe you can't possibly live without these things, promising price slashes and 70% off sales and many ridiculous claims.
I didn't go into any shops, not a one - it really was just to exercise my curiosity.
There is a certain blandness to these places and I am with Mary Portas on this one, why are shopping centres and high streets so dominated by the same old tat. The only time I ever really enjoy browsing is if I am (usually in a small town or village) surrounded by individual, privately owned shops with some food shops and delis thrown in or a good second hand store to rummage around or a market. Bluewater offered none of these and therefore had nothing to grab or keep my interest. I've asked it before, but why has shopping become a national past time?
30 minutes later I had had enough and left by the same entrance I came in, curiosity satisfied. It turns out that I am missing nothing!