Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Taking a punt in the mothership

The Xscape building that squats beside Milton Keynes' shopping centre, like a Dalek mothership waiting to disgorge its exterminating army, currently houses the conurbation's indoor ski slope, a cinema, a rock climbing wall, along with sundry eateries, pubs and retail outlets. Exciting plans for an upgrade are afoot:

Xscape Milton Keynes has set the benchmark for quality in mixed leisure and retail development in the UK.

Building on this success, Xscape plans to take ‘The Ultimate Destination’ to the next stage, with additional development aimed at a diverse and sophisticated customer. Xscape’s plans will broaden both the leisure and retail provision, and widen the destination’s appeal, as well as complement and enhance the existing scheme to provide an improved offer to its loyal local catchment, and to attract more visitors from further afield.

Enthuses an infomercial on MKWeb. I've toyed with trying my hand at copy writing, but I'm held back by the thought that I might have to write something like that, in which case I'd obviously have to kill myself. There's something chilling about infomercials. Like zombies, they appear animated on the surface but quite dead inside. On the plus side, at least the unrestrained use of similes makes life around here seem quite exciting, what with invading Daleks* taking in a little retail therapy and the attack of the zombie advertorials. Did I mention that only this Monday, a swarm of wasps was spotted heading down Newport Pagnell High Street in the general direction of our house? Life's one long white knuckle ride around these parts, I tell you.

Anyway, the improved offer, intended to lure even more of those diverse and sophisticated customer units into the mothership, includes Milton Keynes' very own casino, a legacy of Tony Blair's cunning plan to reanimate communities up and down the land with a transfusion of Las Vegas magic.

On my personal list of enterprises likely to enhance the general happiness and well being of people in the area, a casino comes pretty close to the bottom, somewhere between a toxic waste dump and a low security facility for the criminally insane. Even if the potential increase in assaults, rapes, robberies, larceny, burglary, car theft, embezzlement, fraud, lost productivity, unemployment, bankruptcy, anxiety, depression, heart attacks, wife beating, child neglect, child abuse and suicide isn't as great as the gambling industry's critics suggest, a marginal increase in any of the above doesn't sound like a win to me. But maybe that's just me being an old killjoy. After all, the upside is that people enjoy having a little flutter, letting their hair down and, for the majority, the odd spot of gambling is just a bit of fun, isn't it?

Well maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But after reading Michael Greenwell's first-hand account of a night in a casino (a link well worth clicking), I have to say it doesn't sound like my idea of fun.

*I notice that the headline in today's Daily Express is screaming "DUSTBIN CHAOS ON THE WAY", clearly an omen of the coming Dalek apocalypse.


Stephen Nottingham said...

Re Daily Mail. Headline new two days in a row! Today it's an outcry about 'A Slop Bin in Every Kitchen!' Well, we've had fortnightly dustbin collections and a food recycling bin in kitchen in our area for ages now and it works perfectly well. Says it all about Daily Mail readers really.

Andrew King said...

Indeedy - I see there's more on the "bingate" non-story and the news values it represents over at 5CC.