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Life in the big smoke

Afternoon at Oxford Circus

Hurry up Regent Street. No need to linger, the city doesn’t want you stop or to dawdle. Keep moving, keep looking at the crowd. Girls in face veils, bags swinging off each arm. Besneakered couples wearing backpacks. They walk slowly, looking up, looking down, looking the wrong way as they cross the road. Well dressed women in tight dresses, in high heels. People carrying coffee, people carrying dogs. Buses and cars and black taxis, exhaust fumes so thick they make your nostrils black.

I’m early, so I walk through gaping glass doors. Rows and rows of colourful dresses and shirts and blazers. I don’t know what to do with it all. The shop assistants smile a lipsticked smile.

Another shop. Red and black and blue jackets, quilted fabrics, sown on badges of flowers, embroidery. The same feel of the fabric. The same factories churning out neatly displayed truck loads.

Shop after shop after shop. An avenue of them full of carefully displayed mountains of products. New for each season. Belted jackets, leather shoes, flower crowns, sneakers and new phones. Where do they all end up?

I brush my hand along the fabrics. They’re not looking for a home, they just want to be seen. To be worn once. Then what?

Blinking signs and mannequins in yoga poses. Masses flowing in and out of the temple, staring open-mouthed at high resolution screens and iMacs. Shopping bags lining arms like bangles. What is it all for?

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