Westgate Drab
Friday 18th May, 2018

"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: Inside Primark, Westgate Shopping Centre, Oxford Dilapidated abandoned 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.