Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ending Up in Slough

Today, I decided to be a little more motivated and go shopping. I wanted to visit the Tesco on the other side of town. It's possible to do so by bus and I have this weekly bus pass, so I might as well use it. First, I took my usual bus, the 194, to the Bracknell town centre bus station. So far so good. Then I consulted a map on the wall of one of the bus shelters at the station. This confusing, mish-mash of multi-colored lines was a map of local bus routes. From the map, it seemed that several bus routes stopped at Tesco. Some of them run infrequently, especially on Saturdays. The trick was in finding the next available bus.
From the map, it seemed like the 191 to Slough makes a stop at Tesco on the way. Of the several buses I was considering, the first to show up was a 191 to Slough. As it was a cold and rainy day, I was anxious to get going. I strode aboard, flashing my weekly ticket. For a moment, the thought occurred to me to ask the driver if he stopped at Tesco, just to confirm it, but I'm a guy and guys don't ask directions. The bus was a double-decker, so I just climbed the stairs to the upper level and took a seat in the front row.
After a few minutes of loading, the bus pulled off. These buses usually take tortuously indirect routes, traveling down some minor roads. It headed towards Ascot, which is tangental to the direction of Tesco. I kept waiting for it to turn left, towards Tesco, but it didn't. As the bus approached Ascot, I started thinking it didn't go to Tesco after all. Little did I know, the bus was just playing with me. It doubled back on itself, making a stop on the edge of Ascot before heading back towards Bracknell. At the first traffic light, it turned right, toward Tesco. I figured I had been worrying for nothing.
The bus proceeded down some roads I have never been on. It turned left and right again. Soon, I was disoriented. I tried to follow our progress by noting the road signs. It was hard to tell if we were making progress towards Tesco, or not. Finally, we reached a T intersection. Turning left would take us toward Tesco. A right turn would take us toward Windsor and Slough, beyond. Such a decisive nexus would be accompanied by music, if this were a film. Sadly, it was real music. The bus turned right. There would be no stop at Tesco.
I started reviewing my options. There is a big Tesco next to the Slough bus station. Maybe I could get want I wanted there. I sat back to enjoy the ride. As we drove into the outskirts of Windsor, we passed the street where my evil ex-in-laws live. This stirred uncomfortable memories. Maybe one of them has died. Perhaps, one day, I should take the bus here and get off. Imagine their surprise if I should knock on the door, one day. This brought to mind Jack Nicholson's performance in "The Shinning." I could stick my face in the doorway and say, "here's Johnny!" Maybe it would be a better idea to go there on Halloween. Then, I could dress up in a costume, which would disguise my identity. "Trick or treat, motherfucker!"
You and I know I won't do any of these things. No getting off the bus. Instead, I stayed on all the way to the last stop, beautiful, downtown Slough. Slough has a bit of a reputation in this part of England. In 1937, John Betjeman published a poem about Slough. To give you an idea of how he felt about the town, here's the beginning of the poem: "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! It isn't fit for humans now..." You get the idea. More recently, Slough was the setting for the original, British version of the TV series, "The Office." Nowadays, the town is known for being full of immigrants, especially those from India and Pakistan. Recently, my racist housemate, Nando, and I watched a documentary on immigration, which featured Slough. The Indian and Pakistani former immigrants are complaining about recent arrivals from Poland, Romania, and Somalia. I am always amazed that long resident immigrants and the sons, and daughters of immigrants, so often complain about subsequent waves of immigration.
When I got off the bus and went into Tesco, I felt like I had stepped through a teleportation device. It was as if I had been transported to Southwest Asia. The supermarket was awash in women dressed in colorful outfits, of the style worn in Pakistan, or India. I have trouble telling the two apart. The fact is, India and Pakistan used to be one, but were partitioned in 1947, sixty years ago. There were numerous families of Asians and the odd English one, a minority in their own country. Unfortunately, this Tesco didn't have what I was looking for, so I decided to visit the Queensmere shopping mall, across the road.
No need to get wet in the rain, I crossed the road on a skybridge, covered walkway, a couple of stories above the roadway. In Queensmere, I was again confronted by a sea of Asian faces. Both the customers and the shop workers seemed to be mostly Asians. Looking in a mobile phone shop, I found a phone I like, which was marked down. Apparently it's a discontinued model now. I was very tempted to buy it, but decided to hold out. Continuing my stroll through the mall, I came across a shop that was having a clearance sale on men's clothes. In I plunged for a little retail therapy. They had suits for as little as £39. It was hard to find much in my size, though. I did discover a tuxedo for only £50. I could use a tux, but not bad enough to part with £50, this month. I looked through shirts, but didn't find any my size which I liked. Looking through the jackets, again I couldn't find one exactly right. Eventually, I tired of the shop and left.
I wandered around the entire mall, looking here and there, but didn't buy anything. After spending over an hour there, I decided it was best to head for home. By the time I walked through my door, it was just past 6:30. Nando was home, watching TV. The first thing I said to him was, "I went out and ended up in Slough." With an incredulous look on his face, he asked how I managed to do that. "Don't ask," I replied. I had managed to spend an entire afternoon without actually accomplishing much of anything. Fortunately, I didn't spend anything other than time. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to buy a big, Cadbury's chocolate, Fruit and Nut bar. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

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Blogger truth_hurts said...

Sea of asian faces. Whites a minority in their own country. You can't tell indians and pakistanis apart? what was the need for any of those comments? Clearly you are an ill informed man, no better than your friend Nando. Maybe you should refrain from such comments in the future. Slough is not defined by the colour of it's people. Its a shit hole because of the 'chav' culture seen everywhere there, a culture which has permeated all the youth of the town, regardless of their colour ... should you care to take another trip into town, I hope one of them mugs you.

12:58 PM  

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