Monday, 11 April 2011
All the small things: 7. Uxbridge Road
It's been a long time coming, but Uxbridge Road has to be one of my top ten best things about living in Shepherd's Bush. Unlike Goldhawk Road, which is less populated, less chaotic, has fewer fried chicken shops (I think?) and teases me everyday with their fabric shops, my love for Uxbridge Road was a slow burner. If Shepherd's Bush is a melting pot of cultures, creeds and creatures of habit, Uxbridge Road is the bubbling, boiling hot centre.
When I first moved to Shepherd's Bush I felt unable to swim in this melting pot; I felt I was too Tesco Express (this was in the days before Uxbridge Road had a Tesco) and too English, in the sense of the language I spoke and the way that I looked and behaved. Uxbridge Road is not a place for quiet queuers looking for Clubcard points and a calm stroll home with your reusable cloth shopping bags. Uxbridge Road is a place for noise, for haggling, for the occasional confrontation and for shaking off preconceptions and enjoying more comfortably clashing cultures than you can identify.
Uxbridge Road is also a road of resources; laundrettes, clothes shops, pharmacies, doctors surgeries, estate agents, £1 (PLUS!) shops, groceries and off licences as well as a trusty hardware store and key cutters/shoe repairers. These typically English High Street shops are neighboured with every type of British Boozer you can imagine from the slightly intimidating British Queen to the award-winning Princess Victoria. But what makes Uxbridge Road such a gem, are the innumerable shops and cafes selling produce more typically found across the Middle East, in West and East African countries as well as Eastern Europe.
And finally there is the food. If you can name me a cuisine which isn't catered for somewhere on Uxbridge Road I would be surprised and glad to have found a gap in the market. This means that on a good day Uxbridge Road smells like the best possible cuisine from any given corner of the globe. On a bad day it smells a bit odd; like Thai Green Kebab served with Plaintain or another such unforgivable mix. This I suppose is the double edged charm of Uxbridge Road, it is very hit and miss with it also sadly being an occasional prowling ground for gangs and crime (though, sadder still, this isn't of course exclusive to Uxbridge Road).
I hope this explains why it is very difficult to summarise Uxbridge Road and give you a detailed overview of why it is now one of the reasons I love living in Shepherd's Bush. It is a long old road after all. However, I do have my favourite shops and I think one of them serves as a perfect example to outline the wealth of culture available to eat, drink and explore on Uxbridge Road.
I was first introduced to Damas Gate three or more years ago when I lived just off Cathnor Road with a lovely young girl who co-owned the 2 bedroom flat we lived in with her mother. It therefore followed that her mother would sometimes (i.e. quite often) show up unannounced when she needed a London crash-pad. I could follow with one or two embarrassing stories of drunken Birdie nearly falling into the sofa bed with flatmate's mother, or the time when a "house guest" of mine assumed the bathroom was free, but some things are better left in the past. Yet we were always left with a lovely reminder that flatmate's mother had been to stay because she would fill our fridge with olives from Damas Gate. She would literally buy two or three massive cartons, eat only a fraction of one, thus leaving flatmate and I with a more sophisticated aperitif accompaniment than the digestive biscuits or salt'n'vinegar Squares we were used to.
When I moved out of that flat and no longer had flatmate's mother to bring me olives I had to go and see what the fuss was about. I was not disappointed. If you love olives, neither will you be, and I can guarantee that you will be financially better off for it too with one full carton costing less than half the price of a miniscule Waitrose olive bar tub. Damas Gate also sells crates of fresh produce, spices I've never heard of and more nuts than I would know what to do with.
Posting those pictures has made me very hungry and this is the best bit about Uxbridge Road, many of the shops are open 24 hours or until the infamous hour of "late". I'm off to go get some more olives.
Ah maybe not as I'm in my pyjamas... Sod it, it'll be fine. Anything goes on Uxbridge Road.