Brandon Shopping Centre is a themepark opened in May 2010, intended to simulate a post-apocalyptic town centre environment. Entry is free, safe exit is never guaranteed. I have no choice but to pass through here most days.
Various end-of-days scenarios are explored: zombies stumble about unchecked; aliens have invaded and surreptitiously replaced native buskers and Big Issue sellers; road systems have been configured to evoke the dead-end jams of an evacuating population; much of the area and surrounding urban sprawl looks as if a nuclear attack or superhurricane has torn through; nature has been eradicated, save for a mutant pigeon population.
'Trade' consists of gambling dens, drinking holes, pawn shops and pound shops. Everything is available on 'easy credit terms'. Queues form for loans, benefits, unhealthy foods. Children scream and addicts moan. Bags closely guarded, pockets zipped, fists clenched. Dubious men converge in solicitors' doorways, behind booze shops, outside pawn shops: comparing exploits and wounds, pooling funds, getting stories straight. 'Fifty pence for ma bus fare, big chap?' Ketchup or blood? Faded signage foretells of incoming investment, more jobs, more choice. Promises never kept. Benches lined with the old, infirm, intoxicated. Going nowhere. The sense of desperation, of a town on its knees, is palpable.
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