The art shop we particularly went for was shut -- for stocktaking; not advised on their website! Unsurprisingly T.K.Maxx were selling cheap clothes and Christmas leftovers; unenticing. Everywhere was much emptier than expected, except Costa Coffee which was full. Coming up for lunchtime and there was hardly a queue for the cashiers in the bank. Woolworth's was shut; gone. Adams were selling everything at 50% off -- not surprising as they won't be there much longer. I noticed several other closed or boarded up shops. M&S food was only 75% stocked. Noreen wanted some jeans from M&S; no chance of anything she'd wear. WH Smith looked as if it had been ravaged by a herd of hungry wildebeest followed by a troop of starved chimpanzees -- oh, sorry they were the shoppers, mostly from the local council estate! Smiths had no newspapers worth reading but thousands of trashy magazines; and coloured pens etc. in at least four different places in the shop. The indoor market was empty.
On the plus side? I eventually found most of the stuff I wanted in Smith's and a newspaper at the kiosk by the station; I was in an out of the bank in 5 minutes; we were home in time to make our own lunch rather than eat out; and we got the afternoon to do naff all as well. Modified rapture!
Sadly I fear (and I hope I'm wrong) this is the way 2009 is going -- downhill all the way. Which puts Libby Purves's article in today's Times in interesting perspective. I'm not going to try to precis the article (that would be a stern test for even a master of English language), so follow the link and read it for yourselves. Suffice it to say that the article headings read:
The high street must find life after shopping
We need to rediscover the pleasures of old-fashioned street life, where spending is not the only way to enjoy ourselves
Re-reading that out of context is slightly mind-boggling! Are we really being enjoined to bring back such pleasures as the apprentice boys playing football with a pigs bladder (also known as a yoof brawl) or the ladies of the night? Still I suppose at least the latter do keep money moving round the economy.