On Saturday we all went to Margate for some Christmas shopping.
Once upon a time, Margate was a thriving seaside town, a favourite place for day trippers from London. There are even songs about the place, as this ethnic music from the east end of London shows:
But now? Well apart from a few weeks in the summer, the day trippers have gone. The funfair has gone and the scenic railway has been damaged by fire and is awaiting someone with a load of money to repair it. It has become a backwater where the main business is taking in refugees and immigrants from eastern Europe.
But in previous years we have been able to do a lot of good Christmas shopping there, though. It had a good collection of discount shops with the added bonus of a KFC restaurant!
This year? Well the recession has hit the place really hard. I guess a lot of the shops were running on fairly low margins at the best of times, and a lot of them are now empty. My daughter's favourite clothes shops were still there, so she was happy, but for the rest of us it was a bit of a disappointment. To make matters worse, the KFC was totally packed (the only shop that was), so we didn't even get dinner there!
And do you know the worst thing? With the town in this state, they are spending £50 million on an art gallery. Will this save the town? What do you think?