I believe American writers have a steady date with Starbucks – we have one on the Gold Coast but it’s too small for any serious pencil chewing, so I just head to my local shopping centre, order a cappuchino and a very good ham and avocado sandwich and just hang out for a while, watching the world go by and occasionally scribbling madly in my notebook. It’s a very nice notebook, with horses on the cover. My daughter bought it for me.
My shopping centre sojourns are very enjoyable. After all, if the muse refuses to bite, I can always go shopping.
Here are a couple of pages of shopping centre meanderings.
Shopping Centres as Social Centres
The shopping centre has replaced the market place (clue: this one is actually called the Market Place) and the village square as gathering places. The shopping centre is more impersonal with its high tech gleam, but man is a social animal and likes to be wherever there is life and movement.
Back in the day, well meaning social commentators used to tell us that life in the future would be blissful and thoroughly hygienic. We’d all live in our own germ free cubicles, totally self sufficient with everything delivered to us, and no mneed to step outside into the dirty and disgusting germ ridden world outside. Well, obviously that would never work.
The truth is, we don’t want to crouch in four walls with only and elecronic window on the world outside. Only sad specimens do that. The rest of us still seek the noise, the energy and the bustle of the market place. We like to watch other people going about their business. The internet is a lot of fun, but it can’t beat wrapping your hands around a cup of coffee and letting the sensory experiences of real life wash over you.
The Noise in a Food Hall
Noise – not exactly white noise, but many coloured, rainbow noise. Lots of colours, tones, accents and notes, rising and falling – continuous.
The noise doesn’t seem to match the faces – you can see the lips moving but the noise doesn’t seem to be emanating from the people around you. It is a thing apart, divorced from the faces and the moving mouths as if all their voices have gathered somewhere above our heads and are darting about like birds trapped in an aviary.
Noise travels up in food halls, like heat. What comes back to you has no sense or meaning – individual words cannot be defined, but it has a busy quick tapping rhythm, like hundred of beaks clacking together.
Now and then an announcement from the speakers tries to break through, but it is completely pointless since it comes out as a discordant drone, like a lonely bassoon trying to make itself heard over the strings. It’s not even in key.
Note: I believe a shopping centre is called a Mall in the US.