Nothing stays the same

Today, a trip back to our old neighbourhood. Primarily because I’d promised to take my family to a Persian restaurant after Eid, but also because I find myself revelling in memories these days.

First stop, of course, the flat we shared in West Ealing. Naturally the kids rolled their eyes, claiming that we um and ah every time we pass by. Possibly true. Next stop, a saunter in Hanwell Park, prompting very vague memories wandering together twenty years ago.

Here, recalling just how lovely parts of Ealing and Hanwell are. Momentarily we paused to ask ourselves why we moved out to Chesham. Then we remembered: we were priced out of the area. The house we bought twenty miles away, we paid off in five years. Had we remained in Ealing, we’d still be paying it off for the rest of our lives.

Next stop, West Ealing and Brownlow Road, which I no longer recognise at all. My masjid was down here. I used to take a shortcut through the old estate here from a footbridge over the railway line from Drayton Green. But it’s all now gone. This is the gentrification of what used to be quite a poor, rundown area, with a great community spirit.

My old mosque, once located in a converted old industrial warehouse, has now been replaced by a great big £7M bespoke development. It’s a very nice building, but I didn’t see any of the old faces. No longer really my cup of tea.

From there, Sunday lunch just up the road on West Ealing broadway. I won’t share, because my beloved opposes sharing photos of food. She says, “Think of those who must go to sleep hungry.” She’s right of course. Suffice to say, it was delicious.

We couldn’t return home after lunch without a visit to our old allotments off Mattock Lane. Our friend came over to let us in. Amazing, after all these years, some of the faces are still the same — and still recognised us.

And there was our old allotment. That cherry tree at the front: we planted that, as a single stick in the ground. When we moved out of London, I was supposed to dig it out to bring with us, but I never got around to it. Mrs Me has never forgiven me for that, for it produced the tastiest cherries. Now it’s a lush green tree, reminding us that two decades have passed us by just like that.

Our friend’s new allotment, of course, is amazing. She spends all of her spare time down here, and it shows. Beautiful. But over the road, overlooking the allotment, more massive developments. It’s not the town we left behind.

Of course nothing ever stays the same. We had to move on to make space for the next generation. For clean air too — I don’t know how anyone can live in a city anymore, breathing that filthy air. Our old neighbourhood is nice for a day trip, but no, it’s nice to come home. Forty minutes from crowded urban sprawl to our cozy valley out west.

That’s quite enough excitement for now. Back to our quiet world. Peace!

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