So today I finally made it to the Westfield shopping centre at Shepherd’s Bush Green. Very impressive and clean and shiny, but somewhat dull I have to say.
It reminded me of a long stopover at Dallas Airport about 15 years ago, when I sat reading my book, surrounded by people all looking the same and bumbling around like contented zombies.
What struck me most about Westfield is the branding. There are brands and nothing else. No room for inventiveness, no room for individuality, only conformity and conformism. Perhaps something like the Church of England before Methodism.
Still, I was very happy with my chicken noodle soup from Pho, a little Vietnamese chain, whose place in Clerkenwell is a favourite. And I bought a couple of things and the sales people were friendly.
The second thing that struck me after the blandness of the branding, was the nature of the private public space, which is the thing with shopping centres. I’m sure as a young girl out shopping on Shepherd’s Bush Green in the 1930s my mother would have felt she was in an open public space, with a shape of personal freedom that has been clinically removed from the new shopping centres. People must like the security and the security cameras and the security guards and the lack of dirt and tramps and other undesirables, but I couldn’t help wondering quite where I was. I suppose the fact that there was a branch of Boots reminded me I was in England, but otherwise I could have been anywhere else in the galaxy.
Happy shopping, fellow consumers!