A brace of personal firsts this evening when I got roller-shuttered into a branch of Wilko at the Runcorn Shopping City at one minute to six. This “living the dream” scenario has been brought to you by a confluence of happenstance. IE: It’s all a bit random.
Work brings me to nearby Preston Brook and forgetfulness – lacking certain toiletries -brings me to the nearest emporium.
Runcorn Shopping City – now with Costa! And JB Sports coming soon… – is the kind of shopping centre that was the future in 1972. A modern centre for a modern new town they said when Queenie opened it. (This preceding the architect/planner’s best known, later, seminal role in the creation of somewhere called Milton Keynes.) Spacious dual carriageways strangely bereft of traffic feed me in at what would be considered rush hour in the rest of the UK. After an easy navigation I leave my car lonely in multi-storey carpark 2. I worry for it’s safety.
Momentarily, walking through the hemmed in corridors past The Range, vacant store units and a closed cafe put me in mind of the Cillian Murphy character in 28 Days Later howling “Hello..?” Yet I manfully remain quiet as I have a mission to seek out Boots the chemist. Oh wai… Closed. No matter, the shining beacon of Wilko is but a 50m walk.
Once inside, faced with a bamboozle of men’s wet shaving accessories I must have drifted into a reverie because a locally accented “The store is now closed” seemed to come from nowhere. It can’t be 8PM already?
In quick succession the shop keeper appeared:
“Maych yor mind up pal, I can’ surve yuh afer si-chs.”
Startled: “I thought the centre closed at eight?” I stammer.
“No. [Heavy Pause] Si-chs.
[A more impatient pause] Arrrr y’leeevin’ tru d’frunt or bach entrance?”
I point. He shrugs, meaning okay.
We are at the till. Beep-beep-beep. Bag stuffing. Contactless meep. Leggit. Annnnd duck under the barely open roller shutter to freedom. Well, the confines of the mall.
The car awaits – I swear looking mournful – and I forge a spiral multi-storey-concrete path to the exit, a little hastily squeaky-bum-screechy-tyre. The wide roads away lead me to discover an oasis: KFC. Dinner! I park up and plan my menu. (Like a pro’ I opt to sit in because no one wants their whip to smell of fried, er, shick-unn do dey?) Soon I am sat with a tray of guilty pleasure, free to ponder the Wilko staff hurry to ejecttheir lone customer. Saving themselves from an imminent zombie attack? Gang warfare? A human sacrifice to the hungry lone flesh eating alien who stalks the corridors from 18.00? Pissed off and simply wanting to go home? We may never know dear reader.
What we do know is that KFC Runcorn Drivethru at ten past six on a Wednesday needs a bloody good clean: chips everywhere. Has there indeed been a gang bust up? I carefully observe the patrons (so as not to arouse suspicion: no sudden moves). To my considerable alarm it appears to be a canteen for if not the living dead then extras in a zombie flick. I am tense and confess I harboured disciplinarian thoughts to the scraggy kids running amok whilst day-re mudda noisily argues on a phone call. Perhaps it’s additives kicking in. Before the meat-sweats set in I retreat to – say I’m imagining it – an increasingly nervous seeming car and head back to the charisma free sanctuary of a room at the Runcorn Holiday Inn.
Despite what you may read into the above, I like it here. There’s a twinkle in the eye, my client team are genuinely hilarious with their deadpan turns of phrase. Plus there’s free parking at the shops.
Oh, and the new(!) Runcorn Shopping City Costa is open until 8PM.