This road… ah, this space. This is the happiest place to live in the country, according to an estate agent, who is presumably coining it in around these parts looking at current property prices. Once upon a time, there was a lot more grit and grime up the Broadway, but now the landscape is populated by bars, restaurants and designer outlets. There’s one of the first packaging-free food outlets in the county though, so it’s not all bad.
Leigh is a metaphor for a lot of things, contradiction when set against the poorest parts of the borough, of which there are many. You can pretend your aspirational, Instagram-coloured world is the only thing that matters, but it’s a lie, especially when it will only need sea levels to rise a few meters and all of this is effectively underwater. Do shoppers consider the planet when they’re buying an artisanal ice cream?
I like my backdrops authentic and not whitewashed…
Worst Place in the World
8.49am; sanitising cashpoints, wiping chairs:
that hardware store sells fashion now, restaurants
dividing rapidly reducing local colour, fading fast;
designer hipster tropes absorb tradition, hopes and dreams
ancient, eats modern, discomfort juxtaposing…
I do not now belong here any more.
11.45am looks far more comfortable, relaxed
fluffy mules and paper bags, wrapped up
against Estuary’s unrelenting breeze, despite
bright sunshine, road is always cold, reserved
waiting timed in strict two hour bursts;
move on, that welcome’s long outstayed.
3.45pm reminds, hey, place is aspiration
they’ve never tried to park here, for a start:
there’s only so much boutique, artisanal devotion
its possible to cram into one boom before it busts…
God bless charity outlets, superb Kebab Shop;
Mr Simms Emporium, best place in the world.
Then sun goes down, shakes history’s reminder
happiness is more than just your stuff, however
eco-friendly in production, world’s answer’s not
accumulating wealth; before our time runs out
stop, recall what brought us all to here: highlighting
worst place in the world, consumption without thought.