Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Chorley - not one of my better ideas

It wasn’t one of my better ideas. I thought having checked out wikipedia and googled ten charity shops in the town, it should be all right to visit – sadly the wikipedia entry failed to mention THIS TOWN WILL MAKE YOU LOSE THE WILL TO LIVE. When I mentioned I visited Chorley at work today, my colleague asked “WHY?” Maybe, in the future, I should tell people before I go visiting northern towns so I can be forewarned and change my plans.

First of all, driving towards Chorley you will be fooled into believing it will be a nice town, with all the pretty outlying villages. As you get closer, it gets a little down at heel and by the time you’ve hit the town, its rough. Secondly, once you’re in Chorley, it’s a bugger to park and you end up on the merry-go-round that is the one-way system. This is not helped by the fact there are rows of terraced houses bordering the shopping area with resident only parking. Finally when I parked, I was stunned that Chorley Council had the cheek to charge people for the privilege of parking in this godforsaken town. It wasn’t a good start to my visit.

Market Street was grim confection of cheap shops, pubs and peeling signage. The one thing to note about Chorley is that if you are an alcoholic you will never go short of a pint. There are plenty of pubs in Chorley and given the uninspiring surroundings the locals need it. Outside one pub was a bizarre sight of a bloke with an eye patch smoking with a pint.

There was a pedestrianised shopping area with the usual suspect of shops, although no Debenhams. That fact alone is usually a good point to me; although in this case I’m not surprised Debenhams has not decided to invade this chav town. This town is full of pound shops, although I was pleasantly surprised to see two independent record shops.

There is also a market, however due to my longstanding phobia of markets as I spent most of my Saturday’s during childhood being dragged round them by my parents, I didn’t take a closer look. Although I can cope with markets if there is a whiff of free range, organic sausages on a barbecue and a promise of cupcakes – sadly this market didn’t possess either of these qualities.

The ten charity shops were a disappointment too. No decent music sections of note, although one shop did a fantastic range in acoustic guitars and ukuleles. The knick-knacks showed no promise and the book sections were a tribute to Dan Brown’s publishing phenomenon. There were three chavvy lads who dogged our tour of the charity shops. They seemed to be looking to pick up cheap DVDs and annoy me by getting in the way at every opportunity. Although an honourable mention has to go to St Catherine’s Charity Bookshop with its well organised sections and its fab red leather sofa inviting you to read the literary treasures in the shop.

The population of the town this Saturday veered between pensioners and young kids with harassed parents. The men seemed to sport either bald heads or highly coiffeured hairdos – the hairdressers must do well here. There were some groups of chav kids congregating on the street corners. Clearly they didn’t have enough money for the bus fare to escape to the delights of Preston or Manchester.

The only bright spot in this town was the super-duper-state-of-the-art bus interchange. This is clearly the lifeline for any would be teenager who had the misfortune to be brought up in this soul destroying northern town. They will no doubt stare at the destinations of Manchester, Preston and Wigan with envy. I know Wigan is full of nutters, but it’s definitely better than here. Any bright teenager armed with a handful of A’Levels and their record collections would be on the first bus out of this town and never look back. I know, I would have done the same thing.

By the end of my short trip to Chorley my nerves were shattered and my temper frayed. I certainly won’t return to this northern town in a hurry. If I were to say one good thing about the town, it would be “it’s not as grim as Morecambe”.