The Hollow High Street

This is a strange time of year, as the old year slowly succumbs to its end and the New Year seems to stretch far ahead of us all. These are the days when we come out from our Christmas gorging, our hands sore from wrapping, stuffing and ripping. We are the lucky ones with so many in our own country who go with out. There are many causes for poverty but for me today one of those reasons were thrown into stark relief. 

The sales may be with us but at what cost?


As we wandered around two supermarkets, I saw how we all buy into something that is not real. How easily we are conned into buying things we don't need, at prices we are led to believe are bargains, when in fact they are far from it. Later, sat in the car park with Carol wondering what we could do next (we sat there for quarter of an hour figuring out what town we could go to) we realised that it wasn't just a joke that every high street was alike, it is a simple and plain fact. The idea of individuality seems to be abhorrent to us as a nation, the desire for cheaper, better and bigger bargains have left us with the hollow high street. It does in someway reflect the British as a nation. We've had Christmas but where was the Christmas spirit? I am not talking about what was on television or how many presents you had but the simple fact that a neighbour wished you Merry Christmas or that they invited you to come round for a drink. How many of us did that? How many of us just commandeered the sofa, flicked on the television and just turned slowly into a potato? How many of us foolishly queued all night at an out of town shopping centre just to get 50% off something that still brought in a major profit for the shop you bought it in? Many of you will be proud of your bargains but can you point to anything in your house that you purchased a decade ago and which still works, or which you still call a bargain? If you can, that's great, you've taken a major step into considering the life of an object rather than buying an object to make your life better. Objects can't do that. They merely shore you up in the short term. It does worry me that we seem to all buy into consumerism, that we all rush for the dour, same sign, same shape, same coloured clothes. That we all seek to fit in, keep quiet and just shop. Maybe, that's why Carol and I sought to do something different, to step away from it all. We know how difficult it is, we too can be lured by those lights but they are the same lights that twinkle on every high street across the country and when they are switched off, the truth about them are revealed, they are hollow, dead eyed chains selling us nothing we really need. I lament the death of the small shop, the real high street, that stunk, that pulsed, that throbbed with gossip, bartering, bargaining and bull. We seem to just love the bull now and have no desire to hear the stories that went with it. Life isn't busy, you choose to be, seems odd to speed your way through your own life and that is maybe why our high streets behind all the fast slogans, slick advertising and paper thin window models are just hollow lies.