If you are ever travelling along the M58 motorway in Lancashire, take the time to stop off at Skelmersdale. Your suspicions will immediately be aroused by the view that presents itself – the incongruity of sprawling grey concrete amidst lush greenery. Leaving the motorway slip road, one of the first things you will notice is a giant piece of rock, similar to Kubrick’s monolith in ‘a space odyssey’ in all but colour, bearing the legend ‘Welcome to Skelmersdale’.
Welcome indeed, to what is in effect a toxic human landfill site. It is hard to convey just how bad this place looks and feels. Apparently the name ‘skelmirs dale’ literally does translate as the devils dale. The inhabitants on the whole consist of ‘scousers’ lured out of the Liverpool slums during the sixties with promises of ‘there’s gold in them thar hills’ in the form of employment, space and fresh air. Unfortunately the gold turned to sh*te.
The mirage of space merely left them isolated from their extended families, the hastily built sub standard concrete shoe-box houses soon became discoloured and grubby-in effect became prisons. The jobs turned out to be transient, low paid, low status and then vanished altogether when the grants ran out. The fresh air became contaminated with the odour of helplessness and despair, which everybody inhaled and sent to every cell in their bodies.
Fast forward to the present, a restricted ‘bargain basement’ gene pool has spewed forth some of the most repellant examples of the human genus imaginable. These are to be found everywhere in Skelmersdale, but there is a vantage point for human watchers in the form of shopping centre called ironically ‘the concourse’. There you will find a scene reminiscent of the bar in ‘Star Wars’ but with stranger looking creatures.
On any given day, masses of social security funded, shaven headed, sallow, hollow eyed youths, dressed in grubby state of the art fashion, ooze hostility and malevolence from every pore. Omnipresent female versions of the males present their heavily pregnant bare midriffs in a repugnant display of fertility. These sexual ‘pass the parcel until pregnant’ harpies, appear quite astute to the fact that the system will reward them with housing, money and a tacit approval to drop further future social security recipients upon the taxpayer.
Two area’s worth viewing just to emphasise how forlorn this place is are Digmoor and Tanhouse, just outside the centre. These areas present as a post-holocaust world truly abandoned by god. Rows of eyesore concrete terraces huddle together like ‘the dead propping up the dead’, occupied by asylum seeking types, care in the community mental patients and the indigenous ner-do-wells. Each house appears to be complete with a scrap Ford Mondeo on bricks and old washing machine garden furniture. The only way to prevent oneself from believing that your optic nerve only records the colour grey, is to focus on the multi-coloured broken glass and dog sh*t that covers the pavements like an inland sea.
I hope the reader will appreciate the despoliation that has happened here. It was obviously very pleasing to the eye with its river and lush greenery, it rather brings to mind the idea that someone has dumped a ripped bin bag full of crap onto a pristine bowling green and some town planner got handsomely paid for this act of gross vandalism. The giant welcoming monolith that proudly announces the entrance to Skelmersdale implies one thing to me – as in Kubrick’s film, this place is inhabited [not really] by primitive monkeys, who will tw@t you and each other to death with bones.