Darkness at the Edge of Town

I know the Boss sang darkness on the edge of town but this is a story of decay at the edge…

guy holding a Dominos Pizza ad
something Depression-era about this sort of thing, even if the iPod earbuds and mini-roundabout give the lie to the 1930's connotation

Something dark is being said by people standing by roundabouts holding up a board advertising Domino’s pizza. Firstly there’s the obvious issue of advertising mass-produced processed pap which is only barely fit for human consumption, which is presumably some of the reason we have an obesity problem. The next thing is that £7.99 strikes me as damned expensive for a pizza unless it’s two foot in diameter and can feed eight people. But most of all, what disturbs me about this is that this is reminiscent of Depression-era photographs. What is the story behind this? Will we be seeing this sort of thing in the years to come

Breadlines:courtesy the Franklin D roosveldt Presidential Library & Museum

I have a few days off so I wandered into town, which I don’t do very often even though I am only a couple of miles out, because work is in the opposite direction, and the Internet saves me shoe-leather and easy comparison shopping. And I’m a guy, so I don’t buy loads of clothes and shoes and don’t enjoy the pastime either.

In town was the usual bustle, with a strange prevalence of pushchairs which I don’t normally see. Going in on weekends or after work you don’t get the density of young mums, but also all around there is the palpable sense of decline and decay. Ipswich is relatively affluent, and yet the signs of economic decline are all around me, particularly at the edge of the town centre.

Boarded Victoria pub
They haven't been pulling pints here for a while
Polish Delicatessen closed
even the Poles can't make ends meet now
fresh veg is out of fashion

Looks like folks round here can’t afford fresh veg anymore, or getting their hair cut. Mind you, the British Heart Foundation and Ipswich Furniture Project are doing a roaring trade in secondhand furniture and the BHF does small household appliances, giving Cash Converters some welcome competition.

lots of money around to justify an iStore
Somebody's got money burning thorugh their pockets to go in here

Lest I be accused of being overly selective, I note that in Ipswich town centre we are rich enough to be buying overpriced computing and mobile phone equipment at an iStore, though the Big Issue seller on the right kind of breaks the mood of this photo.

Free stuff for £15, what's up with that then?
Is this free, or is it £15? Inquiring minds would like to know...

The whole brash advertising thing was tedious and got on my wick. For a start I wouldn’t pay £15 a month for a phone anyway, but when did it become okay to put a price on free, FFS?

the White Horse Hotel immortalised by Dickens has fallen on hard times
the White Horse Hotel immortalised by Dickens has fallen on hard times

No room at the inn for Charles Dickens who immortalised the White Horse coaching inn in Pickwick Papers. At least Starbucks can fix him some foul-tasting coffee a tall latte in a cardboard cup. I think he’d be with terminology refusenik Lynne Rosenthal though more robust, along the lines of “what part of a pint of foaming English Ale do you not understand, punk”. And although I am being a crabby old git in this post, Dickens’ request wouldn’t be too unreasonable – I’ve drunk more than my fair share of beer up to the 1990s when this was still a beer-serving establishment with original Victorian stained glass leaded interior windows.

Staying with the crabby theme, but on a geeky vein, a modern digicam is truly abysmal for street photography like this, where I want to have people in the pictures. The random delay between pressing the shutter and the picture getting taken nukes any attempt at finding the decisive moment. Henri Cartier-Bresson would not be chuffed one little bit.

2 thoughts on “Darkness at the Edge of Town”

  1. I cycle from my home to the office later in the daytime due to flexible working and to avoid dangerous road conditions at rush hour so see much of what you do…

    I’d seen the pizza billboard dudes and thought exactly the same as yourself, even saw a taxicab(?) driver berating one (for no apparent reason) like a scene from a 1980s American movie.

    what you are seeing here is the more brutal side of the “free market” but I’d also say it was more like the 1980s than the 1930s and there are other factors..

    I believe the custom for the “Polish shop” in that area has shifted further along Norwich Road, and/or they have merged with another similar business (I do not know enough Polish people to know for sure – but Norwich road is full of such similar places).

    More ominously though their revenue is being squeezed by both Asdas in Stoke Park and Whitehouse having loads of Polish and other ethnic merchandise.

    I can’t speak for what happened to the Victoria – but the White Horse Hotel was a beer serving establishment even when I first moved here in 2006. Sadly the young chaps given a chance to run it weren’t that efficient business-wise, and distracted by the “false glamour” of the industry (I can tell you more next time I see you).

    It was host to many dance music based events but the Constabulary discouraged these, in todays society caffeine is deemed more acceptable than alcohol and MDMA is definitely a no-no!

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  2. Blimey, I didn’t realise there was an Asda in Stoke Park….

    As for Charles’ D’s old stamping ground being an operational beer house that late in the ’00s never mind doing E well, I guess I’m getting old 🙂 I thought it was canned late 1990’s but I moved out of the town centre in 1999…

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