A pointless rant about a shopping giant everyone loves

Westfield is a labyrinth of shops you can't afford to buy anything in, and commercialisation hits you straight in the face wherever you turn.

It’s taken me a number of hours, but I’ve finally found my gripe of the day (this really should become a regular feature). Said grievance is Westfield, the retail colossus with multiple personalities which has turned the formerly run-down area of Shepherd’s Bush into a yuppie paradise. It manages to simultaneously satiate the desires of chavs from near and afar, who loiter around stores they could never afford to buy from, as well as London’s nouveau riche. The car parking is extortionate, and advertisements entitled ‘park all evening for just a fiver’ as if this is some grand concession along the lines of the Reform Act of 1832, sum up the ambience of the huge, monolithic building under which seemingly every shop in the world is housed.

Now, in years gone by, I used to enjoy walking down to my local town centre – Ealing Broadway – once a haven for shoppers, and looking in the HMV at CDs for varyingly long amounts of time. Alas, due to HMV’s appalling decline – brought about primarily due to their extortionate prices and the growing competition from far more reasonable online providers – I have to journey to Westfield and pay £3 for the privilege just to browse CDs. It doesn’t stop there. If you want clothes, you go to Westfield now.

The car parking is extortionate, and advertisements entitled ‘park all evening for just a fiver’ as if this is some grand concession along the lines of the Reform Act of 1832, sum up the ambience of the huge, monolithic building under which seemingly every shop in the world is housed.

If you want to watch a film, you go to Westfield. Why is this the case? Because thanks to a mega-mega mall opening a few miles up the road, Ealing Broadway is dying on its arse (so to speak) and will soon be little more than a slightly easier to get to version of Southall, Acton or West Ealing. Given that the latter was considered to be ‘on the up’ after it was announced that a Costa Coffee was due to open there, this is quite depressing.

Now maybe I’m just very middle-class and a bit of a ponce who doesn’t understand how people should live in 2011. Or perhaps there is something nice about going down to somewhere that is local and most importantly free to get to, and taking pride in where you live. I’m not American, and thus outlet malls are a nice novelty, but not something I’d want to have as a core component of my daily routine. I know you’d be unlikely to run into Dara O’Briain or Jenson Button in the Arcadia Centre, but there is something desperately hopeless about standing around the Tag Heuer shop at Westfield, next to the exclusive and astronomically expensive ‘Village’ area ‘browsing’ watches that cost upwards of £2,000, in the hope of ‘celeb-spotting’. Well for me there is anyway. Rant over.

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