Travel Writing

NEVER HURRY A MURRAY (STATION LANE, HORNCHURCH – PART 2)

 

TUCKER BROTHERS

The stunning view from a cola can that was 10 or so yards away from Osteria Due Fratelli.

 

STATION LANE (LEFT HAND SIDE TOWARDS HORNCHURCH TRAIN STATION)

No, 1, Beauty Box Lane

No, 3, some pedicure place. old sign resurrected, but can only make out the word ACCESS in white letters on a orangey[52] background.

No, 5, Art’s Ink Tattoo – whether the man who owns it is called Art I don’t know – but it doesn’t sound right to me. The title that is, doesn’t roll off the tongue does it?

No, 7, Business Centre – looks like they conduct a ‘massage’ business here.

No, 9, STM Kitchens bathrooms, bedrooms

No, 11, Tranquillity Day Spa – they have those tanks full of fish where people dip their feet in, so the fish can nibble off their dry and loose skin. Lovely.

No, 13-15, Osteria Due Fratelli – Italian restaurant that makes me think of the band, The Fratellis. I cannot think why.

No,17-19, Vertigo – bar/club that is situated above Osteria Due Fratelli. Looks like a flash place that should be in central London. It’s all just glass so you can see everyone inside doin’ dere’ THANG.

No, 21-25, Lloyds TSB Bank PLC/Stirling House – a bank and a set of flats.

No, 27, Susan’s Boutique Susan Kramer’s Boutique to be precise. They sell ladies’ wear.

No, 27a, Hamiltons – sell decorations and things. It’s a gift shop.

No, 29, Frankie’s Wine Bar – never seen anyone in here. Maybe they only let people called Frankie inside.

No, 29a, Tulipa – flowers et sheet.

No, 31, Charlie’s Salon – a random hairdressers. Seriously, how many do we need?

No, 33, Real Clean – drycleaners.

No, 35-37, flats Unit 3 and Flat 5, Ripon House.

No, 39, Anderson Sinclair Design – deal with kitchen appliances. Not ‘with’ as in there are kitchen appliances with sound, body and mind who negotiate with them, no, they SELL kitchen appliances.

No, 41-43, Zizzi – Italian food joint. Their waiters and waitresses wear beige shirts. I have a Ben Sherman one that looks very similar, so maybe I should apply for a job and say that I could save them money by not having to buy another shirt.

[52] Really surprised ‘spell-check’ passed this word.

 

Further on is a block of flats, a row of places selling things from electrical goods to fish, chips and musical notation, then a bunch of houses and the usual assortment of hairdressers, beauty parlours and fast food joints as I approach Hornchurch train station ready to exit unto either Elm Park, Dagenham East, Dagenham Heathway, Barking (all on London Underground’s District Line) or Romford, although if I am going next to the latter in my journey then I may as well turn back and get a bus there; which is what I’ll do. Then I can get a bus from there to Elm Park, have a nosey around then jump on the train to the stops nearby. Actually, the sensible thing would be to go to Upminster, potter about, count the steps it takes to get from one Costa Coffee to another, get a District Line train to Elm Park then move on from there.

 

EPILOGUE

For a distance that would normally take me around five minutes to walk, it’s been a long journey, although for anyone who is around 20 stone despite being under six foot, it’s a bloody marathon. It’s been quite an eye-opener. That’s not to say that anyone with permanently closed eyelids, or someone who has just woken up with conjunctivitis, would automatically have their eye flaps lifted by walking this journey (like some sort of blind version of Lourdes),[53] it means that I have seen things that I probably never would have noticed before if it wasn’t for noting the town in the way that I have done.[54]

    I have witnessed some magnificent sights and sites on my epic journey of Hornchurch; from windowless phone boxes to a chicken man standing outside The Sandwich Shop, it has been breathtaking, particularly when walking uphill. I have learned that decorators hate or don’t know what an apostrophe is, but the most profound thing I have learned about the town is the amount of non-descript accountants and solicitors that are scattered around the place. ‘Ah, so THAT’S why a large majority of people in Hornchurch look like a bunch of Daniel O’Donnell clones wearing clothes and haircuts that, if they were ice cream, would be vanilla of the Neapolitan variety’ I thought. But that is what it’s been about: discovering. And if that means finding out why so many men resemble Daniel O’Donnell then that’s a good enough reason for me.

    I’ve known from my time drinking in the town’s pubs that the ‘Ray Winstons’ and ‘Danny Dyers’ of this world[55]  can be explained by the influx of people from the heart of London’s East End, while the need to look like a goldfish with opposable thumbs is one that is spread THROUGHOUT the country for men AND women. Though I couldn’t fathom why so many others looked like your stereotypical accountant or solicitor. But now I do: it’s because they ARE accountants or solicitors. Having consciously looked at every building through Hornchurch High Street and Station Lane I have found out that this is because there are loads of shelters for them to hang around in. Why are accountants and solicitors so conspicuous in their surroundings? Is it the greyness of their buildings that encapsulates their aura perfectly? Probably. That and many other things make Hornchurch a town of ‘the good, the bad, the ugly, and the bland’. Just like any other then.

[53] For anyone who is having this read to them, whether via audio or another human being, I’m referring to the one in France, not Lord’s cricket ground in St. John’s Wood, London.

[54] I don’t need to explain. Go back and read it you lazy bastard.

[55] Hornchurch.

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