(Why the fuck is it called the Mall, anyway?)
I’ve been to Alton Towers. I even have one of those roller-coaster pictures to prove it. You know the one. Just after the big drop, so you look fucking ridiculous. It was on a school tour and it was great fun, but you can keep your glitzy roller-coasters and your glamorous haunted-houses, because they don’t hold a candle to The Mall Complex, Longford.
Not one, but two playgrounds. The first is located in the centre of the park, the more traditional of the pair. Couple of swings, a slide, some shit to spin around on, the usual play-related suspects. Soft, padded ground to protect you from “boo-boos” and “owies”. Some cracking graffiti to boot, “if u read dis ur gay”, a Banksy original, I believe. Head in the direction of the town and you’ll soon come to the other designated play-area. A more alternative, edgy effort. A sprawling spider-web, wood-chip on the ground, some sort of rocking caterpillar, weird bouncy things. It’s fucking madness. Whoever designed this must look at the work of Salvador Dali and see nothing out of the ordinary. Chaos.
I haven’t actually been inside the building that anchors the place that many times in the past few years but it looks surprisingly decent from the outside. Bit of a suspect choice to place huge windows at the children’s end of the swimming pool but I suppose we shouldn’t let paranoia dictate our architectural designs. Some nice astro turf football pitches situated near the more mainstream of the two playgrounds to cater for all your interstellar sporting needs. Exercise machines line the path around the Mall too, for those who believe “the world is my gym”. (As long as the world is full of conveniently located equipment serving the sole purpose of making the world a bit more like an actual gym.)
It’s the people that really make the place though. One time a group of young gentlemen informed me that a select area of the Mall was their “turf”. Sorry chaps, didn’t realise I’d stumbled into Compton wearing the wrong colours. I promptly vacated the area, lest one of Longford’s regular drive-by shootings prematurely halt my blooming career in gangsta rap. Nice of the lads to let me know I’d stumbled onto their private property, oddly located in the centre of a public park, so we could avoid any legal action in future. I made my way home, carefully avoiding the empty bottles of Buckfast and local turf wars, marvelling at my good fortune in residing so close to this local landmark.