Travel Writing




A stone’s throw away from Dagenham. If someone was to throw a stone, let’s hope it’s a meteor. Or at least enough ‘normal’ sized ones to build something else aside from shops and tower blocks.


I dunno if it’s me, but as soon as I step outside Beacontree Heath railway station where a white haired man of pensioner age wearing blue overalls is standing next to an empty Metro branded newspaper rack. I am followed by a man wearing sky blue jeans and dark blue t-shirt (both of which are splattered with white paint), and numerous other humans, an air of menace engulfs me, which leaves me thinking that people know I’m not from round these parts. It’ll be worse when I’m ‘seen’ walking back to where I came from in a few minutes as it will be ‘obvious’ I don’t really know where I’m going.

It’s not as if I’ve travelled to the Amazon rainforest and been confronted by an indigenous tribe that hasn’t seen a white man before (my home town of Hornchurch is only a few miles away – one that is still under jurisdiction on whether it has ever seen a black man before), but I feel under threat.

Maybe it’s my ‘trendy’ hair. When it hasn’t been waxed into a quiff I arguably look like any other dick down Brick Lane (or should that be Dalston or Mare Street? Mind you, even Dalston’s ‘old hat’ to many hipsters now). The quiff is the only reason I have this hair. When it is sculpted so, I feel totally different, like an ‘ard nut. A hairdresser told me that the reason a lot of movie villains have their hair made into a similar style is because it makes their face look longer and more intimidating. But with this creature on my head I am asking for a beating.

I haven’t experienced one yet, just a couple of voices shouting out ‘‘fucking queer!’’ and ‘‘get a haircut!’’ I had that a few times in my mop top days, so no change there. I was wearing women’s clothing when I was called the former, but only a short sleeved shirt filled with yellow stripes and white squares. Doubt they saw that the buttons were on the left which indicates it being a woman’s shirt. All in all it occurs once or twice a year, so not too bad. Anyway, enough of that shit.

[60] Reason for the bracketed ‘a’ is because it is sometimes spelt with an ‘a’ after the ‘e’, sometimes isn’t.

It’s a really hot day (88 degrees Fahrenheit according to the weather people), so with less clothing and places to put things, I have to bring out more things, namely sun tan lotion amongst everything else I would normally take out including wallet, keys, travel card, mobile, camera, note pad, note book, pencil case, ‘Credit Crunch’ sandwich, chocolate, banana, bottles of water, tobacco, lighter, mints…I occasionally take out lip balm, but not often – those are the regulars. That’s what the bag’s for.

I head down the hill to the right. Black railings to my right where I can see the railway tracks. Two laughing black girls wearing black tops, black leggings and small black head phones skip down a set of concrete steps that lead to a housing estate. Tower blocks sore my eyes. Looks like a destination for someone looking for something. I’m looking for something, I don’t know what, but it isn’t them.

When I reach the bottom I turn the corner where a tanned middle-aged man in a dark green vest with short curly light brown hair is sawing a lump of wood surrounded by more lumps of wood and his van. I’m assuming it’s his. My natural paranoia also assumes he’s looking at me wondering what the hell I’m doing round here. ‘‘Look at that poof,’’ I think he’s thinking. Those thoughts subside when I see a teenager who wouldn’t look out of place in One Direction walk through his open door.

Two white middle-aged women – one brunette and potentially one former brunette (can’t tell for the white hair) – wait at a bus stop across the road 10 or so yards away just outside the confines of the tower block estate. Not knowing what to do I head back up the hill somewhat aimlessly. The same old bloke is still standing right outside the station’s entrance by the empty newspaper rack.

Seeing as there was seemingly nothing the way I came I walk past the station to see if anything caught my fancy. A bus stop is some 10 yards away with a set of concrete steps after it leading to a road and a dozen or so shops and business that I won’t bother to note. All I’ll say is it’s the usual conglomeration of sweet shops and hairdressers. As I carry on, it becomes clear that there’ll be nothing of interest further ahead, just houses and shit, so I make use of my travel card and wait for a bus on the other side of the road even if it means getting off three or four stops later.

A young Asian pair of humans – probably teenagers and a couple, or at least a potential couple in one of both sets of their eyes – are there too. A man wearing a white hoody, faded blue jeans and white trainers with short gelled black spiky hair that glistens in the sunshine is sitting down with the girl in all black. I can tell that he won’t be getting on this bus as he tries to get closer to her waiting for the moment he can ‘make his move’. Or hoping she’ll do the work for him.

He draws it out until the last moment before the bus driver could say ‘‘on your bike’’ or ‘‘hurry the fuck up’’, places his hands on the top of her arms and shoulders (she has two, this is not Norfolk you know) and pecks her on the cheek. His voice, volume wise, was low enough as it is, but I didn’t hear her speak at all.


So that’s it for Beacontree Heath and me. Short, I know,[61]just like this ‘conclusion’ – if you can call it that[62] – will be. But come on, this is Beacontree Heath we’re[63] talking about here. I did take photographs on this part of my epic voyage pottering about my local areas, but frankly, they were too disturbing to be published.






















[61] Although not as brief as my piece on Upminster. Have you read it yet? Oh, you must! Here, I’ll provide you a link to it:

[62] Did you notice my inverted commas? #clever

[63] Or rather ‘I am’.


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