Travel Writing

NEVER HURRY A MURRAY (HIGH STREET, HORNCHURCH – PART 2)

HIGH STREET (RIGHT-HAND SIDE TOWARDS UPMINSTER)

No, 2-26, houses and a small road that leads to some flats.

No, 28, B.F. Mulley & Son – funeral directors. 24 hour service so you’re not lumbered with a rapidly rotting corpse. That’s all anyone needs.

No, 30-42, houses.

No, 44, Revive: Grill & Juice Bar –  True Strength – Enjoy Health – World Fusion – Food for Fitness – Salads – Taste is Everything – Restaurant – Bar/Juice Bar – Revive Grill (in other words, your food will probably be so underdone that you will be able to revive it with the kiss of life) – Sea Food Grill – Charcoal – Steaks – Brunch – Dinner – Sea Bass – Smoothies – Protein

A road that leads to back-shop car parks and a Royal Mail warehouse that interrupts the high street. This is what’s on the corner of it – which is the start of the high street PROPER. Used to be called Jailhouse Rock, which was similar to a burger bar and had a giant figure of a person that was supposed to be Elvis Presley in the Vegas years, white jumpsuit an’ all, stuck to the building above the entrance. It played host to many tribute acts including Ronan Keating. Was called Lounge then 44 Club[38] immediately prior to what it is now. A few weeks before I found it to be Revive it had its windows plastered with newspapers. Headlines included:

Time to tackle our gambling[39]

 

Rolf charged with 13 child offences

 

Danielle rants at ‘vile drunk racist’ Big Bro bullies

 

Firm fined £30,000 for site safety failings

 

Bart of our team

 

No, 46, McDonald’s – you know, the er, fast food place. This used to be massive inside with ceramic tiles all round the place featuring images of McDonald’s old favourites, Ronald McDonald, Hamburglar, Grimace, Captain Crook, Officer Big Mac and many, many more in a country scene reminiscent of some Southeast Asian art that I’ve seen.[40] It also had an upstairs area where parties could be held, but in keeping with the uniformity of high streets, even individual McDonald’s are now identical to each other with blinds and different shades of green everywhere. The ones around the country had their own quirks, but not anymore. An advert for ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ was filmed here.

No, 46-62 (Unit 3…whatever that means), J.J. Moons – a smelly Wetherspoon pub that contains the usual aromas of vomit and sweaty feet.

No, 60-62, Coral – again, the address numbers are confusing. Not sure whether it is 60-62A. I know it’s a betting shop – that much is certain. This used to take up just one residence as there used to be a Pizza Hut next to …Moons. The popular pizza joint may have given spots to its customers, but years spent in the confines of GAMBLING hot spots can provide its regular clientele with a haggard by-looking-at-me-you-may-think-that-I-spend-my-days-drinking-20-pints-and-four-bottles-of-whiskey-a-day look. It’s a look that says, ‘‘this man has LIVED’’.


[38] Had some very good reviews, particularly where food was concerned. See them here: http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/44-london

[39] 700 betting shops down one street – as is the case with this one – won’t help.

[40] Mainly a ceramic bowl that I use to put fruit in at home.

No, 64-68, Oj’s/Oliver James – doubt it was named after the Fleet Foxes song of the same name. Used to be a proper ‘old man’s’ pub called The Cricketers; from the ‘dad’ bands that played there to the hanging sign on the pole outside that had on it a sketch of people playing cricket. With its all-black exterior penetrated by infra red lights at the entrance (which is also a smoking area) and bouncers outside, it is more like a bar. I haven’t been in either, but I’m assuming Oj’s is the place where you start off before finishing the night in Oliver James. My abiding memory of The Cricketers is being seated in the front of a friend’s car on a hot sunny day in May 2006 watching West Ham United fans fighting EACH OTHER outside after an FA Cup final loss on penalties to Liverpool. I wanted the Hammers to win, but we found the fight scene rather comical as we drove past. They weren’t exactly united as part of their name suggests. Again, I never went inside.

No, 70-74, Superdrug – big chemist and toiletry chain. Usually a worker or two in their red t-shirt and black trouser uniform smoking outside.

No, 76, Herb China – in musical terms, this is avant-garde to Superdrug’s ‘pop’. A car crashed into this place around 2011.

No, 78, British Heart Foundation – charity shop. A brightly lit cluttered place where it is not advisable to have a bag on your back or shoulder unless you like the sound of clothes’ hangers hitting the floor. Inside I purchase two videos for 49p each. One of them is ‘Trouble on the Terraces’, a documentary on football hooliganism, and the other is ‘Harry’s Hit Squad’, which contains mid-season highlights from West Ham United’s 1997-98 campaign. The Harry in question is their manager at the time, Harry Redknapp. I hand the items over to a black girl with blue/green (dunno which) eyes in her late teens/early 20s (could have good genes and diet and be in her 30s) wearing a white jumper over the counter and ask whether numbers 80-82 of the high street are flats considering 78 is next door to 84-86. She smiles, but doesn’t say much and quietly calls for someone else. Two heavily set women, one black wearing all black, and one white wearing a flimsy blue top, come out of the back room at the end of the shop.[41]


[41] Not sure of their eye colours.

‘‘Hi, this address is number 78, right? Where’s 80 to 82? Are they flats?’’ I ask.

‘‘Er, yeah, I think they are,’’ the older black woman answers looking at me and then the white woman. ‘‘Argos is 84 to 86 so they must be as there are flats above here, so yeah. Why’d you wanna know?’’

I sniffle a laugh, put on my sounds-stupid-BUT voice and say, ‘‘I’m doing a project where I’m noting down all the residences down the high street to show how it’s changed…’’

‘‘Ah,’’ the women said in unison,

‘‘I’m hoping to turn it into a book eventually.’’

‘‘Ah,’’ the black woman said again, ‘‘that sounds great! Do it! Are you saying what everything was before?’’

‘‘For the ones I remember, yeah.’’

‘‘Sounds great. Good luck.’’

‘‘Cheers. And cheers for your help, see you later.’’[42]

The three of them all say bye (some louder than others). And so I continue my epic adventure. Frodo’s was NOTHING compared to this.

No, 80-82, flats.

No, 84-86, Argos – can get nearly everything here. It could possibly be the Harrods for the upcoming space generation.

No, 88-92, Halifax PLC – the bank place.

No, 94, Costa Coffee – it’s not a modern day high street without one of these over-priced buggers around.

No, 96, Roy Gill Opticians – eyes again.

No, 98, flat.

No, 100, Roy’s Pie & Mash Eastender’s Favourite apparently. No evidence as to whether it is a favourite of the likes of Phil and Billy Mitchell, but we’ll take their word for it. Not sure if it’s the same Roy who owns the opticians two doors away. Does he have his fingers in many different pies? He does literally, but it’s unknown whether he does metaphorically.

No, 102, Hornchurch Jewellers – used to predominately be Hollywood Whitening. That is now round the back of this residence according to the bloke I asked in there.


[42] That was roughly the conversation. I didn’t record on a Dictaphone or anything as I’m not a psycho.

The latter carries out laser PL hair removal, laser skin treatments and cosmetic teeth whitening (their capitals).

No, 102A, Cherry Acorn Insurance Centre – motor insurances.

No, 104, Vision Express – *coughing*

No, 106, Tiptoes Key cutting, high-class engraving, watch batteries, straps & repairs. Huge giftware range

No, 108, The Card Company – greeting cards and all that jazz.

No, 110, Safina – women’s clothing.

No, 112, Traffic – see above.

No, 114, Santander – the bank that Lewis Hamilton fronted.

No, 116-118 99p Stores – used to be a Woolworths until they imploded. Don’t forget that at the time of typing (January 11th 2014) they have a website that you can buy from.

No, 120-122, Natwest – come on! Do you REALLY need me to tell you what this is?!

No, 124, flat.

No, 126, Boots The Chemists – Er…

No, 128-130, T E G Domestic Appliances – always have washing machines outside. If you’re seeing this post straight away and the business has changed and/or there’s no longer washing machines outside, well done for reading, and I will be going into Hornchurch soon to double-check. But equally, fuck off if you’re gonna take issue with me for not making sure whether it was still T E G Domestic Appliances before posting this piece. I’m tired, leave me alone and get on with it.

No, 128-134, The Perfect Smile Spa – dentist.  

No, 132, Haven’s Hospice – I’m guessing this is what it is MEANT to be called, although I do sometimes wonder whether the decorator was supposed to spell out ‘Havering’s’ instead of ‘Haven’s’, but was too lazy on the day to add more letters. I suspect this laziness carried itself to the owners who then couldn’t be bothered to change it back. Yeah, I think that’s the reasoning. This used to be a pharmacy called Pharmacy. It was a name that the people of Hornchurch respected very much.

No, 134, Godfrey’s of Hornchurch – a real authentic bakers, including the smell.

No, 136, Barclays Bank – sponsors of the English Premier League.

No, 138, Thomas Cook – can book with them the dates you want to burn yourself and lower your odds for contracting skin cancer.

No, 140, flat.

No, 142, Shoe Zone – they sell shoes funnily enough.

No, 144-146, Clinton Cards – you’ll never run out of sympathy and enthusiasm with these and others in town.

No, 148, Greggs – the famous bakers. Have to admit I find I make up my mind quicker in here than in other bakeries. Usually just go for a steak bake, Tottenham cake and tea – sometimes ALL in one sitting (I’m mental like that), sometimes just the one item.

No, 150, First Choice – suppose it’s good that you can go in all the travel agents in the town first to see what are the best deals before deciding WHERE to burn yourself.

No, 152, Smokers[43] Paradise – eight doors away from Cancer Research.

No, 154, Retail Therapy – women’s clothing.

No, 156-158, Costa Coffee – this has been many things in my time in the town – a steak restaurant called Gosha, two bars called Madsons and something else that escapes me. Can’t remember what it was before the bars, but it was shut down for a while. Also, you will be shocked and I’m sure disgusted to know it took me a monstrous 216 steps to get from the aforementioned Costa Coffee to this one. Obscene! You’d have thought that they (the council, property developers, whoever) would have the decency to have one in between say, 113 steps, instead of putting our little legs through all that walking. I mean, HONESTLY…

No, 160-164 Peacocks – I can just imagine the clothes in this store being very thin and easy to rip.

No, 162, Patterson Hawthorn – estate agents.

No, 166, flat.

No, 168, Wildwood/Ask/Baskin’ Robbins – two Italian restaurants and an ice cream parlour. The three establishments formerly made up one single Lloyd’s pub/bar. It was always busy and full of young people (underage) every time I went there between 2004 and 2006, so I don’t know why it went under. These are all connected and sitting on a roundabout.


[43] No apostrophe after the ‘s’! Despicable.

WILDWOOD

Station Lane is to the right. See that bus? THERE. THAT is more or less where Station Lane starts. This was taken in April 2013 before the road works. The only difference between the before and after of this picture is the colour of the pavements. All that money and distruption for different coloured pavements, a few plant pots, and a pavement in the MIDDLE of the road. Well done, Havering Town Hall, well done. If I knew any of you that were part of these schemes then I would buy you a pint…to throw in your face.

This is where another act of confusion occurs. Despite having lived in Hornchurch for over 26 years I didn’t know that the alleyway between Peacocks and Richard House was the end of the high street and the start of a new road called Station Lane; which leads up to Hornchurch train station. The roundabout in the middle of the town centre features three establishments (all No, 168 – see above) and is considered part of the high street. So despite walking along the same stretch of pavement you are actually on a different street from that alleyway. I bet 99% of people consider that the first part of what is Station Lane is still High Street, so that is why I will continue up this path until the hordes of shops and restaurants end as if it was the same road. The even numbers of the high street will be continued after this for they are on the other side of the road, bizarrely. The upcoming section has a very wide pavement that facilitates for cycle access.

 

No, 170-180, Moss & Coleman Solicitors – a woman on the reception desk was very moody when I enquired to make sure that this residence still counted as High Street.

‘‘What do you want?’’ she said hurriedly.

‘‘This is still part of High Street isn’t it?’’

‘‘Yeah, what do you want?’’

‘‘I was just wondering whether this was still part of the road called Hornchurch High Street.’’

‘‘It is. What do you want?’’

‘‘Nothing. I was just wondering whether this was part of Hornchurch High Street.’’

‘‘Yeah, but what do you want?’’

‘‘That was all I wanted to know. So this address is 170 to 180?’’

‘‘Yeah, but what do you want?’’

‘‘Just making sure that this was part of the Hornchurch High Street for a project I’m doing.’’

‘‘Oh, well…it is.’’

‘‘Okay. Thanks. See ya later.’’

And with that I walked out thinking that they thought I was a complete weirdo. I only realised months later that the street is called High Street, not Hornchurch High Street. No wonder she got the ‘ump.

No, 174, Headlines Hairdressing – another example of why I had to ask people in residences to confirm their address.

No, 176, Chinese Medicine Centre – never really noticed this before. Like many places it just blends into everything.

No, 178, Turkish Mangal: Ocakbasi & Meze Restaurant – glorified kebab shop, although I would like to try this place.

No, 180, Frank Rivett & Sons Ltd. Personal funeral services/directors and monumental masons

No, 182-184, Saint Francis Hospice – sell furniture only.

No, 186, Smile Solutions – ANOTHER dentist to keep gum disease and yellow teeth at bay. This is probably brought on by the number of restaurants and boozers in the town. People eat, get fucked – whether by drink, sexual penetration or both – then cannot be bothered to look after their teeth when they get home – choosing to slump in bed or on a chair in their glad rags instead. I know I have.

No, 188, Dixons Estates – that’s right, not the computer place.

No, 190, Mustard Indian Kitchen – either they SERVE mustard, the kitchen is the same COLOUR as mustard, or the place is ‘‘mustard’’ i.e. good.

No, 192, The Only Way Is Cycling NOBODY SELLS BIKES CHEAPER THAN US they scream twice. Bit of a generalisation I would and will say. The name of the shop is an indication of the growing trend and penchant for putting ‘The Only Way Is… (insert your own shit here[44])’ in front of ones that allude to the area of produce that one conducts business with. Mind you, there’s one residence (a few doors down from the aforementioned Knights Snooker Hall) that calls itself The Only TAN (my capitals) Is Essex. Bravo!. So a LITTLE bit different, but dickish nonetheless. It is in reference to a somewhat popular TV show called ‘The Only Way Is Essex’, which some people refer to as ‘TOWIE’. I originally thought the acronym stood for ‘Twatty Orange Wankers In Essex’. And from what I have seen of the show I am convinced that is what it stands for.

No, 194, Taste of Bengal – some say their food tastes too salty. Maybe there is too much salt in their meals, but I don’t notice the difference between them and other curry houses in the salty stakes. It tastes good nonetheless (he says as his arteries get further clogged up thus stopping blood going through to his heart that will eventually lead to his death).

No, 196, Rienna’s Restaurant Luxury Fish Steaks Chicken

the letters of the sign are italic and white against a black background (used to be the other way round). In all my wisdom I thought it served traditional Austrian cuisine just because it sounded like Vienna. Yes, yes, stupidity on a par with Joey Essex (although he’s probably never heard of the city). Pity, because I was looking forward to tucking into some non-dinosaur shaped turkey dinosaurs.

No, 198, Special Nails – you can have either ‘special’ nails here or ‘stunning’ nails from the place down the road. What’s it to be?

No, 200, Adam’s Mobility Services – what a helpful chap Adam is.

No, 202, Moroccan RoseIndulgent Beauty it says on the sign. Used to be called SC Skin Clinic. Someone I know is referred to by a friend of mine as S.C. with the ‘s’ standing for ‘suicide’. I did always doubt, though, that that someone lapped up this nickname, took it on and then opened a skin clinic named after those initials.


[44] Not literally.

No, 204, The Body & Sole Clinic – aw, bit of wordplay there, get it?

No, 206, First Class Gents Salon – this was built in case there was ever a fire at the hairdressers two doors up. A fire would ultimately lumber customers that had only had half their hair done, so if such an event at that residence occurs, they just pop in to here.

No, 208, The Korai – Indian cuisine. And there I was thinking it was a place that sold koi. Wikipedia is often frowned upon in academic circles for its reliability, but I’m seeing more and more journalists refer to entries from there when they’re on the subject of something or other. Here’s the entry for ‘Korai’:

The Korai, also known as, Kaheri (Urdu: ڪورןءۍ) are a Baloch tribe settled in the Balochistan province of IranBalochistan Province of PakistanSindh; Punjab provinces of Pakistan; and the Indian states of Uttar PradeshRajasthanGujaratMaharastraHaryana, and Indian PunjabIshaq Ibrahim Baloch Current Chief of Korai Baloch Tribe The tribe is considered to be the progenitor of many Korai Baloch sub tribes, including Aalani, Jamani, Jalalani, Mewtani(Chief Korai Baloch Sub tribe), Jhangirani, Chatarani,rustamani. They speak Balochi in Balochistan, Sindhi in Sind, and Seraiki Punjabi and Urdu in Punjab. In India they speak local languages, having been settled in India since the time of Mughal emperor Humayun. They descend from Mir Jalal Khan who’s considered to be the Ancestor of the Korai, RindsLasharisHooths and Jatois.

See, you HAVE learnt something reading this. All one of you.

No, 210, Fredrick’s Hair and Beauty – see First Class Gents Salon above.

No, 212, The Fancy Dress Shop – think I’m correct in saying that this is no longer known as Cloaks & Daggers. I borrowed a nun’s outfit from here to wear in Maguluf.

st andrew's church

‘‘If you’re heading to Upminster, on your marks, get set, GO!’’ Outside St. Andrew’s Church which is further on down the high street towards Upminster.  

Incidentally, the bull’s horns in the centre of this picture[44] are not the original ones from the olden days (first recorded reference of them is from 1222) as they were nicked in 1999. If whoever’s got them is reading this, hand yourself in – but not before you’ve sold them, made a lot of money and shared some of it with me. Are you still there horn-stealing assailant? Good. If you do intend to report yourself to the police then don’t bother with the one in Hornchurch as it won’t be open. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[44] Near enough the centre you pedantic sod.

TBC

 

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