Tuesday 1 February 2011
As so often before, we headed down the tunnel and out alongside the Emirates A 380 plane, parked on a bit of green well away from any runways and, on this murky and dull day, being painted, or at least washed and cared for.
We turned right along the Bath Road, which marks the Northern perimeter of Heathrow noting, as often before, the serious amount of spare capacity when it comes to office accommodation. This does not, however, appear to stop people building new blocks, and we passed several enormous building sites.
We were not expecting to notice anything new around this much travelled area, but we do not remember passing Nippon Express before. Clearly this kind of logistics firm is what people mean when they talk about how airports create many jobs.
The other buildings around here are, of course hotels, and we passed a couple of Holiday Inns and various Marriotts and so on as we headed towards Hayes. It is only a couple of weeks since we were in Hayes, Kent, and here we were coming into Hayes, Middlesex. There are still plenty of 'No Third Runway' signs around, almost as if people did not believe that the Coalition government would stick to pre-election commitments unless reminded.
As we passed Hayes and Harlington Station, we spotted the large sign promising Fancy Dress, which is part of Platterpuss, a shop which offers all kinds of entertainment.
Over the Grand Union Canal, we were pleased to see a couple of Community Support Officers on bicycles. And while the King's Arm's Pub was defunct, and undergoing metamorphosis into housing, the George Orwell Pub seemed to be alive and well. As so often, I can't find much about how long the pub has borne his name, but here is an exhaustive biography of the man, which will confirm for you that he lived and worked as a teacher in Hayes for a while. No idea where he drank though: in Southwold he always preferred the Lord Nelson among the 52 drinking places he could choose from. But I digress.
We were now in predominantly suburban and residential areas, noting the spelling of Shaftesbury Waye with an 'e' as we went. There were occasional flurries of shops and food outlets: the Millenium Tandoori in Yeading had chosen the Dome as its image. We also appreciated the naming of the church of St Joseph the Worker, I suppose in contrast to all the other saints who merely behaved well, shared their cloaks, got themselves martyred or whatever.
As we approached Northolt, we agreed that people living along a dual carriageway had little choice other than to turn their substantial front gardens into parking lots. We passed Northolt Station, and then South Harrow Station with views up the hill of Harrow, before turning into the town centre of Harrow, to wiggle round the St George's Centre and into - and then out of - the bus station. Our bus was briefly diverted, we think because of major building works around the station. Then we passed the Safari Cinema, which clearly specialises in Bollywood films, and came to the handsome central mosque of Harrow. We also noted a butcher which was called 'the Kabul-Beirut Halal meat store', indicating the diversity of the Muslim population of Harrow.
The last of the many stations of today's journey was Harrow and Wealdstone, close to the Weald Centre, which is clearly about to become wonderful. We were also taken by a small metal sculpture of a mouse playing a violin, but could not detect the name of the Trattoria he was embellishing.
We reached Long Elmes, the terminating point of our bus, at 11.50: a long and fairly interesting journey which had reminded us, yet again, of how far London spreads, and how densely populated our city is.