The Parallel Universe Of The Shopping Centre


I am always interested in dissonant and surreal experiences in life. Mostly it’s about me seeing other things which look oddly out of place or just not quite right, but occasionally (in fact rather too frequently) it’s about me feeling out of place or not quite right.

Shopping centres/malls are a case in point. Since my life is art and art is life, and given my love and appreciation of aesthetically pleasing environments, and bearing in mind that I believe one should only buy that which is absolutely necessary or absolutely beautiful, you can understand that shopping centres are not my thing.

But I found myself in a big outdoor one today on an expedition to purchase a motley assortment of items as quickly as possible. One item was a small kettle to add to a small study area I am creating for the two daughters remaining at home, and I happened to see a ‘Home’ store version of a large well-known supermarket. Thinking this would be a good place to find a small cheap kettle, I stepped inside and found myself transported into another world. A world of piled high home products which starts to make you think you actually need to buy some of it even if, thinking rationally, it’s nothing like the stuff you would imagine you wanted if you started with a blank sheet of paper.

I wandered around feeling rather like an alien, and wondered if I looked as odd as I felt. But of course I became distracted like everyone else and ended up looking at stuff I had not come in to purchase.

And then whilst examining a desk lamp (£4.99???) with a maddeningly low maximum wattage on the bulb (leading me once again into a state of despondency about energy saving bulbs), I was approached by a polite young man doing a survey. He thought I was seriously interested in the lighting range, and I suppose I could have made up some normal sounding responses, but it was not to be. In my despondent state, I was suddenly caught by an outrageous desire to be absolutely honest, and poured out my aesthetically tempered horror of energy-saving lighting options.

As I continued into a diatribe about the state of unimaginative manufacturer solutions to the problem, he began to smile broadly. Too late I realised he was trying hard not to laugh, but instead of putting up and shutting up, I dug in deeper and tried to explain about the much better lighting design products options on the continent…

I think he thought I’d completely lost my mind. I think maybe I had. I was at some level conscious that my survey response was widely off mark, and as I scuttled off back to normality, I wondered how it might have been to enter the place without such a sense of dissociation.

At least I had no kids with me to embarrass. And the kettle proved a great success.


One response to The Parallel Universe Of The Shopping Centre

  1. margaret nickels

    A woman after my own heart ! And I expect you made his day too . He’ll be dining out at KFC for days on the back of your totally rational and understandable rant!

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