Monday, February 25
Southampton – the city that cloned itself. Part I
A few years ago, I hopped onto the train to Southampton, intending to take some photos of the busy city centre and have a general mooch around. After several hours of wandering, I started to become puzzled. I had seen shopping centre after centre, chain store after chain store, but where was the, erm, interesting stuff?
Southampton has some pleasant parks, and some interesting historical remnants around the fringes but the city centre is a pretty depressing place. Not even run down – in fact it’s all very modern and clean and prosperous. But so linear and dull and homogeneous for such a large city. Not even a quirky/trendy/irritating quarter like, say, Hockley in Nottingham, Park Street in Bristol or the whole North Laine area of Brighton.
No, Southampton has a city centre where the shopping centre and the identikit chain store is king. I swear I wandered into one shopping centre and emerged from a completely different one. Either I had found a secret passage in the consumer–space continuum or the repetition of shop fronts had induced a mild state of hypnosis.
Anyway, after a couple of hours I spied a non-chain bookshop in a road off the pedestrianized main drag. And it had just closed. For good. Oh well...