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The Spirit of Churchill Square

By Kerry Herbert

The Spirit of Churchill Square
I never expected Sweetieworld to be my destination. It was a hot day and the acid was kicking in. The North Laines were too busy with students and trendies, the pier too packed with casuals, and my make-up had started melting under my veil. The only way was up. Two minutes browse through the glove selection in the gloriously cool confines of Hanningtons, through the back to the haberdashers to run my fingers over the embroidery silks, out through the little back door past the funeral parlour, a quick gaze in the windows of Waterstones, up past Rounder Records (the Violent Femmes were playing again), a wiggle and a goth boot strut through Dukes Arcade and Boyce's St and up the back steps of Churchill Square. 

And there they were, my punks, loitering as they always did on the west side of the concrete flower bunker - the bunker that put the square in Churchill Square. They weren’t really mine. They were at least three years older than me and wouldn’t be seen dead with a goth. Ironic, really. But I loved to watch them out of the corner of my eye, and I hoped my Siousxie and the Banshees tshirt would maybe make them think twice about beating me up. 

The summer sun was bouncing off the concrete and making everything hazy. A mix of The Doors, Bob Marley, and The Cure waved through the doors of HMV. Habitat slouched next door, beanbags lazing in the windows like overstuffed lilypads, and next to that, Mothercare’s windows were lined up with umbrella buggies, presumably because even older toddlers were wilting in the heat and could no longer be forcibly dragged around the shops, promise of an ice-cream or not. On the other side of HMV, Sweetieworld glittered. Emerging from the shadows of the overpass, the colourburst of a million sweeties screamed across the pavement and blended in an acid oasis with the sunburnt shoulders of fat mothers and unprepared tourists. 

A young boy walked past with his mother, must have been eight or nine, wearing nothing more than his red swimming shorts and his Woolworth plimsolls. “Is it always like this here, ma?” he said in a thick Northern accent. “Aye son”, said Ma, “it’s the South”.

This page was amended on 09/04/2014
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