"You're a bit keen, aren't you?" I ask.
"We're trying to get together a pile of photos for a branding exercise to get some inward investment into the borough. I've got to get pictures of happy smiling shopping people. You can't imagine how difficult that is. Still, third time lucky I guess."
"Not much luck?"
A flourish of the hand encompassed the street.
"Look at it. Lunchtime in the run up to Christmas."I wished him luck with his doomed exercise and made my way through the merry throng saying "How much?!" as they window-shopped the Help The Aged outlet.
"Surely, half-empty shopping streets filled with surly brutes is the Helminthdale brand?"
"That would be accurate, right enough. It would be nice to be aspirational."