"Primark and the Spectrum Suckers" was inspired by the Primark shop in Oxford's new Westgate shopping centre. Primark's decor brings to mind the inside of an industrial warehouse:
Now, I did like some things about the new Westgate. It completes the west end of Turn Again Lane, which used just to peter off. And in the summer, it would have a nice feeling of being open to the sky, almost as if at the seaside. Other things are less appealing. Why a national-chain Lebanese café at the entrance when Oxford has so many independents: Al Shami, LB's, Le Kesh, Pomegranate? In fact, Westgate has no independent shops at all.
And here's another less appealing thing. Next door to Skechers is a picture of a thugulent yob grunting "I refuse to become what they call normal." But he is. He has a black cap and shades and T-shirt, with stubble to match. And he perfectly echoes the clothes in Westgate's shop windows. Black black black; navy, beige, denim or grey. The shoppers were no better: jeans, black coats, an occasional dark suit. The brightest splash of colour was an orange Sainsburys bag. Just what I wanted when the centre opened last October, with the clocks gone back and five months of darkness due.
I asked the assistant in one shop to find me some clothes that weren't drab. He said, "I don't know the word." I asked, "You don't know the word 'drab'? Are you English?". He said "I am, and I'm a qualified English teacher. But I've never heard the word 'drab'."
Fish have no word for water.