We live on the cusp of Newham and Waltham Forest, off the road between Leytonstone at the top and Stratford at the bottom. Leytonstone’s OK. We like it here. I’ve yet to find anything I like about Stratford. True, there’s a nice pub, King Eddies. And er, that’s it. I went down there today to photograph an interestingly bleak little barber shop I’d spotted a week or so ago. To get there I had to walk through the shopping centre. It has similar crowds to Oxford Street, but ploughing through the masses doesn’t seem to bother me there. In Stratford there’s a palpable tension about the place – a sort of desperation. Everyone seems to be smoking and eating fast food and drinking proprietary-brand superlager. It’s hateful. There are spectacular piles of rubbish – today it was plates of food piled up in a shopping trolley outside the Wetherspoon. You always pass at least one discarded cooker.
Past the shopping centre I had to trudge along the dual carriageway, now lined with new-build flats. Some are surprisingly nice – I can’t imagine anyone would live there, but still they build. The barbers wasn’t as photogenic as I’d hoped, so I crossed over and headed back past the boarded-up pubs and the Stratford Rex. This is a former cinema, now a pretty ‘earthy’ club and venue. A young couple were pushing a pram – the father drunk. Then it started to rain. Can’t wait for the olympics.