The Palace of Earthly Delights

This is a Bolton week.  This is the week for Ellie’s second dose of chemo. As we feared, it’s made her feel very nauseous, despite apparently super-efficient state-of-the-art anti-sickness medication.

So I’m in loco parentis.  One of my duties was to take the boys to what Ellie cheerfully calls ‘Grief Club’.

‘Once upon a Smile’ supports bereaved families in all kinds of ways, practical and emotional.  The children often have fun together – and appreciate being with other young people who share their unwanted feelings of raw emotion and grief.  Yesterday they were at the Trafford Centre, so I had an hour to waste there while the boys got competitive on the bowling alley.

‘Waste’, because shopping is no kind of therapy for me.  And the Trafford Centre is a château, a folly, a temple to consumerism.  Just look at this.  Look at the kitsch statues, the faux gold, the marble, the sweeping staircases and the wannabe classical fountains.  And this palace, which dates from as long ago as 1998, is merely a home to the likes of Marks and Spencer, Boots, Next and Paperchase.  I got crosser and crosser as I thought of what fun I’d be having if instead I was at a community market, chatting to the locals.  And I was cross with myself too, for feeling so holier-than-thou.

Perhaps the Trafford Centre wasn’t built with me in mind.  The boys had fun though, which was the entire point of the excursion.

42 thoughts on “The Palace of Earthly Delights”

  1. Wow, at first glance that looks like a luxury liner from the early part of the last century!
    I hate shopping too – mine gets done on line sitting on the sofa in front of the fire with a cup of tea to hand.
    I’ve been thinking about you all! See you soon. x

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    1. Ah, I don’t do internet shopping either. When I receive the goods, they never seem to be as they appeared ‘on the tin’. And alongside my dislike of shopping centres is an equally strong desire to keep the high street functioning.

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  2. Perhaps, too, your feeling cross was more at the situation you and your family are going through. Had it been any other time you may have just shrugged your shoulders and ignored your surroundings because you were in happier circumstances. It is a pity there isn’t a grown-up version of the boys’ grief club so you could have someone to talk to and receive some emotional support. I’m sorry you’re having to go through this, we often neglect our own emotional health because we have to be strong for others. I hope there is someone to take care of you, too. 💜💐

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    1. Oh, don’t worry. The Grief Club’s there for the whole family, though realistically it’s too far away for me. And thanks for your concern, but we are all well supported in different ways. However, shopping centres always make me cross. Grrrr.

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  3. I share that sense of dismay that we promote consumerism with the misnomer “retail therapy”. I heard a few years ago that it was the nation’s favourite pastime and for many families it constitutes a grand day out. And that phrase “must haves” I saw hanging in Sainsbury’s above some spring clothing….heaven help us. The great thing about malls is they keep you dry! I remember when the Ridings opened in Wakefield….my Dad was so impressed! Hope you are soon out enjoying walks and lambs Margaret. Big hugs. Such hard times for you all. Xx

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    1. Walks and lambs are much better than staying dry in out-of-town shopping centres. By the way, I had the misfortune to be at the Ridings recently. ‘Down on its luck’ might be a fair description.

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  4. That’s a shopping mall? Ick, ick, ick! It reminds me of photos I’ve seen of Las Vegas (never been there, never going!)–so over the top. But the boys needed their outing and you are such a good grandma. I agree with thejuicenut–hope you’re taking good care of yourself, too–they all need you!

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    1. Las Vegas! I’ve never been there either (not on the list). But I should have realised that the Trafford Centre has distinct similarities. The boys don’t rate my grandparenting skills just now. It reminds them that their father isn’t there to do fun things with them.

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  5. Oh the Trafford Centre looks hideous! My parents have an Egyptian-themed movie theatre nearby in Maryland that we frequent sometimes, and that’s bad enough, but this is a whole other level of faux opulence.

    Glad the boys have a good support group, though. My sister was never able to find something suitable for her older son.

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  6. Totally agree, I’ve never been to Meadowhall, Metro Centre or Trafford Centre, my idea of hell is a department store .

    Jan
    Sent from my iPad

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  7. Oh dear, that looks grim! Grief Club sounds a lot more fun than killing time amidst all that glitz and faux statuary. I’m not a fan of shopping centres either (though I do a lot of internet shopping). Wishing you all well for this difficult week and hope your daughter gets past the nausea very soon.

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  8. Not Las Vegas – but sunny Manchester – oooo – never!!!! (I apologise for my heavy-handed sarcasm, but who on earth designed and permitted such a sight/site?) I wonder if it is a generation thing, but I find UK shopping centres/malls oppressive. Sincerely hope the boys benefitted from the support group, bowling seems to be very popular with youngsters these days.

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    1. You almost sound as though you do like some shopping centres somewhere. Well, well! In this case, the bowling alley, which the boys enjoyed, was the best feature.

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      1. Aha I see you are detective in your spare time – yes, I was very impressed with the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan which is a kind of shopping centre! I suppose really it is more like out arcades, but just on a much larger scale. It is open with fresh air whipping through which I think also makes a positive difference. Bowling is fun for everyone as long as you look after your back!

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  9. I can’t bear shopping unless I can get it done in 10 minutes at the most. I find shopping centres unbearable and much prefer a good old-fashioned high street. My husband just got back from Manchester today having spent three days with his brother. They went nowhere near the Trafford Centre (I’ve never been there either on my many trips to Manchesterland) but they did visit Manchester Art Gallery and view a fantastic exhibition of photographs and also Modern Japanese Design. http://manchesterartgallery.org/exhibitions-and-events/
    I’m glad the boys enjoyed their bowling and sorry Ellie is feeling so ill.

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  10. We have a term for these places – we call them “temples of greed”. I have visions of future generations lovingly preserving them as heritage as they will be what represent our age to future generations! People like you will be volunteering to ensure the visitors have a good time!

    Glad you’ve found a group that seems to be of some help for the boys, sorry to hear that they don’t seem to be much kinder to you yet – they will eventually appreciate how important you are … hang on in there all of you, thinking of you all as ever.

    H

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    1. Me? Volunteer at a shopping destination? I’d rather pull my own teeth! I’ve been writing a letter to you in my head for weeks: getting it into the computer is quite another matter. But I will, I will (promises, promises). Ellie’s pulling round a bit from this latest chemo, and the boys? Well, they’ll get there in the end. Really hope all is well with you all too xx

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  11. Hi Margaret. On top of the immensity of everything else, it seems so unfair that the anti-nausea meds aren’t effective for Elinor. Hopefully, next treatment the side effects won’t be as severe as for this one. I also hope she continues to feel increasingly better after this one though. You and the boys and Elinor are often in my thoughts.
    As for the shopping mall – well it does have a vaguely Trumpish aesthetic doesn’t it? Perhaps post-postmodern pseudo neoclassical genuine excess is on its way to being back “on trend”? (Or did it never really go away and I just failed to notice.)

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  12. Glad the boys enjoyed it. You should have taken a book to occupy your time while having a coffee. Hope the chemo does the necessary xxx

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