Sign o’ the times
Plan, schedule, phone, sort, discard, pack, load, drive, unload, lunch, carry, pay, unpack, unsort, chase, liaise, argue, home, eat, telly, sleep.
The day after moving office from Camden to Chiswick, I decide exploring the area can wait.
Because today I just want to pop out to get a fresh sandwich from a proper sandwich shop.
I take the sprawling Hogarth Roundabout’s subway to emerge facing south. Leaving the bustling carriageways behind me, I stroll past the local Fullers brewery and within seconds feel miles away from the city. A leafy village lane with 16th century cottages, dominated by the old church, weaves the few hundred yards down to the Thames. This far downstream, water’s much calmer with swans and moorhen completing the picture postcard scene. Beautiful, but not a sandwich shop in sight.
Crossing back under the subway, I walk up Devonshire Road, past boarded-up shops and a couple of pubs, but resist the temptation for a pint. Besides which, I don’t want to eat in, I want to take-away.
Reaching the High Road, I ignore my groaning stomach discard a couple of delis disguising themselves as cafés. The aroma of coffee and sun-blessed tomato teases my taste-buds, but today I don’t want brushetta or ciabatta: I want a sandwich.
Shaking off my slight sweat from the lunchtime sun, I dismiss Spar, Cullens, Greggs Bakers and Boots: all renowned sandwich makers, but I want fresh. Likewise Starbucks, Café Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret A Manger: all chains; I want a proper sandwich shop.
I’m on a mission, and compromising now would constitute failure.
Half-hour on, I’m very hungry, hot and tired. At the far end of Turnham Green I believe I’m hallucinating a mirage, until from the swinging sign before me emerge the words ‘Sandwich Shop’. Hallelujah! A proper sandwich shop, selling fresh sandwiches.
It’s busy. A middle-aged woman takes orders. Others prepare the sandwiches, fresh. It’s swift, friendly and efficient.
And today they’re giving away a free packet of crisps with every order.
I pay my two-pounds-fifty-pence, and walk the two miles back to my new office.
Exploring can wait. Today, I have found my sandwich.