Hey, I visited ‘X-Scape’ near Castleford for the first time last weekend. It turns out to mostly be a vision of hell on earth. Very like when you have to stop at a motorway services and it looks like there’s been some sort of major disaster and they’ve decided to feed everyone Burger King in a ‘retail destination’ – young girls with straggly hair in broken vibrating chairs, ‘amusements’ and arcade games and that sort of thing. Millions of people, a full car park that’s bigger than you could imagine and a list of retail chains straight out of the globalisation handbook of nightmares. There’s even a shop calling itself Adrenaline Addict or something. They sell t-shirts and anoraks. Didn’t do much for my adrenaline levels to be honest.
Next door there is an ‘outlet village’. This turns out to be a shopping street like everywhere else but with no actual town attached. And because everything is an ‘outlet’ rather than a ‘shop’ or even a ‘store’ people think it must be cheap or something.
I mean I know that people who have nothing to do with their lives go to these places looking for meaning or ‘stocking fillers’ or ‘bits and pieces for the lounge’ or whatever but what I found difficult to cope with was the number of blokes who seemed to be there not under duress. I can do about 30 seconds in any given shop and a bit more if I have to queue for whatever it its but there’s all these people wandering around looking like they’re reasonably happy. What has gone wrong with the world?
However, I am not immune. X-Scape has a climbing wall and the ‘outlet village’ has a Cadburys chocolate shop where you can get piles of orange flavour Fry’s Chocolate Cream. So now I don’t hate it so much – darn! Mind you, it was the first sunny day for 3 months so maybe that was it. There's still far too much shopping goes on though. Do I want people to race pigeons and do the garden? Actually, yes. Maybe. Anything but shopping.