Brenda’s Unfortunate Record Of The Week #9
There’s been a lot of talk this week about bubbles (I even mentioned it in my last piece). Swishing about in our social media feeds, the fake news, misconstrued conceptions of what’s really going on etc etc … and now poof! the word of the year. Post-truth. Given all these suds, seems more poignant than previous annual offerings (emoji, vape, selfie).
I popped out, or actually floated from of the comfort zone a few weekends ago. Myself and JMM went into town on a Saturday night. He splurged & purchased tickets to see Dr Strange at the Leicester Square IMAX and wow was the whole experience ever a bitch slap of reality.
We emerge from Oxford Circus. It’s a dark & damp 5pm. I want to buy black sports socks & JMM wants to look at trainers. There are hoards of people, that transient sea most hard-working London commuters are accustomed to, but that me, cocooned in the privilege of self-employment rarely has to navigate. Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but still I’m acutely aware that I don’t have to be here. The Christmas lights have already gone up and are being photographed from every angle. There’s plenty of jostling and the consumerism is dizzying. We head into the first shop. It’s full of screens saying what shoes have been ordered, what’s coming up next. Shop assistants carrying iPads, Reebok-sponsored DJ pounding out phat beats from her laptop, you know the score …
I remember visiting NikeTown Portland when I was 10, awestruck as sneakers shot through plastic tubes, fresh from the stockroom. It was the future and it was exciting. So I guess in one respect I get it. Not much has changed, aside from the height of bar needed to impress today’s savvy youth. But amongst all the technological consumerist fanfare, I still feel like a bewildered granny. And I can’t find the socks I want. No swoosh or stripes, please.
So off we go to shop 2. JMM waits outside as I make a b-line for the back of the store, scanning my surroundings as fast as I can. I spot what I need. They’re in the boxing section which feels pretty cool. 2 for £6 too. At the till, I hand the girl £20 then find an extra pound coin in my pocket. ‘Oh here, I’ve got this!’.
She looks at me apologetically, ‘I’m sorry but I’ve already put it through’.
I peer over the counter. The till’s definitely not automated. ‘Yeah but can’t you just give me back £15 instead?’.
‘No I’m sorry, we have to pay out exactly what the machine says’.
Absurd as it is, she seems resigned so why shouldn’t I be? She’s just doing her job. I sense significance in the situation but should I really question the system? At the end of the day, aside from the weight of my pockets it won’t make much difference. Besides, I’ll no doubt be handing those coins over to someone else in no time at all.
Our path takes us down towards Tottenham Court Road (OMFG what’s happened there?!), we dip into Foyles (mehhh I miss the character of their old building, but at least what’s on offer’s still up to par) & finally cut through Chinatown, which is always refreshing. Everything else is a chain these days, everything looks the same. Except for the Prince Charles Cinema. ‘So long as it’s still standing …’. But I also said that about the Swiss Centre. And why is an entire West End corner devoted to selling a chocolate coated candy? Hmmmm.
After a bit of confusion as to which one’s IMAX (Dr Strange seems to be playing in more than one Leicester Square cinema), we finally make it to our flagship destination. There’s more queuing which doesn’t bode well with JMM. Over half of the machines aren’t working, and the functioning ones are held up with folk struggling to retrieve their reservations. An attendant takes pity, ushers us to a window in front of everyone and tickets are dispensed.
I want popcorn. And I want water. I also want pick’n’mix but I’m watching my waistline. More waiting and poor JMM is beside himself. ‘What’s taking so long?’. I’m marvelling at the people around me. All the corporate marketing shouting down at us … CocaCola, Disney etc … How normal it all is. How billions of people around the planet are all doing the exact same thing, right this very second, not thinking anything of it. The shared human experience. And here’s me and my vulnerabilities – caving in to the £12 of refreshments which were subliminally sold to me the moment JMM mentioned the word ‘movie’. Talk about big bubble.
When it’s finally my turn I realise the man behind the counter must be on his first shift. He doesn’t seem to know where anything is.
Before the film are the adverts. Munch much much of the popcorn as pop, pop, pop, pupils dilate. And then the 3D glasses come on and we’re plunged into a rollercoaster ride of modern entertainment.
The whole evening is blissfully dystopian.
So yes, hello postman, post-truth indeed!
So long as we are drugged, distracted & held in corporate comatose, we’ll be living under your reign.