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  • Writer's picturePaul Kilgour

A Nice Day Out - London #2 {Home Sweet Home}

So Hounslow, how’re you doing? It’s been a while. I mean, I wasn’t expecting bunting or anything, but I was born here, so you could have made something resembling an effort. You’re not looking too good to be honest. Bit under the weather?

Hounslow West Underground Station

Alighting at Hounslow West Station, I am pleased and surprised to see that the sun is shining. It won’t last. This is not a sunshiny town. And indeed, storm clouds are brewing overhead as I make my trepidatious way towards town. The technicolor of of my arrival has dimmed to several different shades of murky grey as I exit Hounslow Central Station. The guide book, if there was such a thing, would inform you that this was the nicer part. The houses are larger, though mostly divided into flats and bedsits. Someone has even cut the grass in one of the front gardens this year. It is as one approaches the centre that one is offered the full on grim experience that is Hounslow Town.

The shopping experience that is Hanworth Road

Hounslow is famous for the helicopter scene in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and Rod Stewart once played for the local football team. It is the birthplace of Jimmy Page, Phil Collins, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Sir David Attenborough, Ian Gillan, the one and only Charles Hawtrey, Nick Lowe, and yours truly. Van Gogh lived here, briefly. Most people only live here briefly. Jimi Hendrix played a gig in 1966 at the ‘Riki Tik’ club, now a Nando’s chicken restaurant. It is most notable for being on the way to Heathrow Airport. Sadly, by-passed by the Great West Road to the north, all the business went elsewhere. It is, how should I put this nicely, a shithole. It has seen better days, but not many.

The Lord Palmerston Pub

The high street has been pedestrianised, presumably to allow easier access for the hoards of shoppers loaded with all that spare lockdown cash that they’ve been unable to spend. If only there was something half decent to buy. Even the ‘Pound Shop’ has a sale on. I fancy a cup of coffee, and the best I can find is ‘Greggs’ on the High Street. At least it’s cheap. There is something both amusing and quite sad about sitting outside a ‘Greggs’, drinking luke warm coffee and eating a flaccid tuna sandwich, while a Moroccan accordianist serenades you with Besame Mucho. I am halfway through my coffee when he breaks out the theme to The Godfather. I need to leave.

Shoppers outside one of Hounslow's many 'exclusive' outlets

Hounslow's version of Marks & Spencer

As I am waiting for the bus that will take me away from this place I am joined in the queue by a man sucking on a e-cig. I mean, why bother prolonging your life? I’d be on 80 a day if I still lived here. We both watch in stunned silence as a man dressed as an early 70’s skinhead, in his early 70’s walks past. A look is exchanged. I’m not sure if it’s one of surprise or grudging acceptance.

The bus arrives, and I am gone. Never to return. Goodbye Hounslow, you were quite nice once.

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