Do you know that look on a three year old’s face just after she drops a brand new ice cream? It’s the facial expression that comes before the inevitable bawling. A stunned look. Open mouthed. Wide eyed. Shocked at cruel fate’s sudden hard slap. You know it? Well, in the future everyone in Ireland will have that look on their face. 24/7.
We’ll have that look on our face as our piebalds pull our Mercs past lay-by picnickers. We’ll have that look on our face as we travel potholed roads to the mall. The mall: a near derelict hulk. Creaking and wheezing. Cracked glass and corroded chrome. A junkyard Death Star coated in a film of dust. Once a temple to aspiration, now a salve to desperation. Shuddering escalators will carry us around inside. Crackling musak will attempt to sooth. But we’ll still have that look on our face.
We will go through the motions. Buying the remnants of better times in a gargantuan jumble sale of half-assed items that guarantee dissatisfaction. But we’ll soldier on. What else is there to do? A torn bath mat. One Ugg boot. Tattered chick-lit. A bent 9 iron. There’s a dead house spider in the powdered milk. Someone bursts into tears and their spouse tells them to keep it together. ‘You’ll set everyone off’. But they can’t contain themselves. Trembling lips. Rolling tears. Gushing snot. ‘Waaaaahhhhh!’ Oh Christ!
The spouse places a hand over their loved one’s mouth but it’s too late. A grating voice barks from the P.A. ‘Transgressor-floor three-aisle seven.’ Here comes security. The couple flee. A chase. Other customers watch, glad they are not the ones being pursued.
The couple run past displays of punctured soccer balls, dented bean cans, withered fruit and veg, wilting copies of Eddie Hobbs’ You and Your Money magazine. They are surrounded before they reach the fire exit. They are shot with tranquiliser darts. Their unconscious bodies are loaded into shopping trolleys and wheeled away. The P.A. growls again: ‘patrons are advised to stick with the programme or face the consequences’. Everyone does as they are told. What else is there to do? There’s bargains to be had. They saw it on the telly. They read it in the paper. Now is not the time to be cribbing and moaning. Things are looking up. Just don’t look up! Transgressors are dangling from the ceiling by their necks. Take that look off your face and welcome to the Planet of the Shops.