We went round our friends Becky and Roger last night, they live north of the river in Turnpike Lane, a world of proper kebab houses and gigantic pubs. It was a great evening of lager, Champagne and Wild Boar sausages, topped off by a nice little drive around the North Circular.
Mandy does all the driving because my levels of concentration are so bad that behind a wheel I become an accident waiting to happen. I’m also prone to the odd bit of road rage. So now I just sit there and gaze blissfully out of the window, usually bent slightly forward with my mouth hanging open, like a mong. Sometimes I give a running commentary of the surrounding area, which I think Mand quite enjoys despite her protests to the contrary.
“Please! Please, just stop talking!”
There’s plenty to see on this journey. The joy of the Blackwall Tunnel, then over Hackney Cut and past the old Matchbox factory next to the marshes. Always, always something different to look at. Then onto the North Circular, guarded by its unfashionable office blocks from the 1960s. Greying and stained, the relegation to storage duties being the final insult, or nail in the coffin.
On past F.R. Shadbolt & Sons, with their factory and signage straight out of a post war new town advertisement. The sign facing the oncoming traffic reads: Veneer of the week – Cheerio Cherry. Seriously, who the hell needs Pet of the Month when we’ve got Veneer of the Week on the North Circular. Fantastic.
Past the Hospital up on the embankment to the right. I helped lay the footings for that place a few years ago, filthy and freezing work, up to my knees in fucking mud whilst that smug fat bastard smoked Henri Wintermans in his Beamer.
It’s all to be seen again on the way back, but this time from the other side. We end up taking a slightly different route home through Beckton. I was struck by the rows of boarded up flats and empty communities. The Beckton Arms looking a little defiant from behind the fence, wide eyed in the wake of change and Magners Irish Cider.
Home to the great news that The General is dead, and that the Widow is deeply saddened. The world is now a slightly better place.