Empty Town 1


This morning I walked into Newcastle (Under-Lyme). It was wet and humid and at 7am the stallholders were just setting up on the Stones. It being a Tuesday it was flea-market day and it was odd to see stalls being filled with pieces of china, old books, toys-there was a box of teddy-bears and even a male mannequin. This particular item being naked made the experience completely bizarre if not a little surreal, especially since the whole market was a harkening back to how things used to be about three months ago, pre-virus.

I’m not a great shopper. In past times I would have wandered past the stalls, done a little browsing and inevitably, unless they were selling plants, come away without having bought anything, nor would I have done much buying in any of the local shops. Today, however, I was struck by an irrational need to shop. This urge was nothing to do with lack of stuff, or even a desire for something new, but rather a wish to go back to things as they used to be.

As it happens nothing was open so early in the morning. Making my way home, up the hill, I felt that for the first time I could relate to those crowds that waited patiently to be let into Primark, or even those people that crowed through the doors of sports shops for the latest gear. I won’t be doing either of those things, but there is part of me that truly longs for the time when I can sit in Café Nero with a cup of coffee and a cheese and tuna melt, the Saturday paper in front of me and watch the world go by.

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