Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Farewell to Chiswick

Soon, I'll no longer be making my weekday trips over to Chiswick.  For the past four-and-a-bit years I've been coming over here Monday to Friday.  I've learned every bump on the District Line from Tower Hill to Gunnersbury and recognise quite a few of the faces of the people who have an overlapping daily routine.  I don't know them, of course, but the faces of a few people who travel to Chiswick Park every day are familiar to me.

I didn't really know anything about Chiswick before I started work here.  Years ago, when I used to play badminton regularly, I used to sometimes play at the leisure centre in Brentford after work.  I didn't work over this way, but it was halfway between work and where my friend against who I played lived and so it made sense to make the trip out here.  After playing, he'd quite often drop me back at Gunnersbury in the car, and then I'd take the District Line all the way back over to home in Wapping.

At the time, I didn't really notice that there was an office building over Gunnersbury station; I certainly didn't think that one day I'd be working in that office building.

When I came over here for interview, it seemed like a long way west.  I suppose it is a long way west.  I remember getting off at Gunnersbury, way before the start of the interview - I'm always early for interviews.  I walked along the High Rd, not really knowing where I was going but given that I had half an hour until the start of the interview, I thought I'd walk for ten minutes, turn around and walk back, and then I'd be an acceptable "ten minutes early" for the interview.

I only got as far as the junction down the road; I never got as far as Sainsburys and Waitrose.  So my view of the area wasn't great at that point.  It was miles away from home, and there was nothing here.
One thing led to another, and I ended up being offered and accepting a job here, so a few months later I made the journey over here "for real".  This wasn't a trial. This would be my commute for the next four years.  As the lunchtimes progressed, I ended up exploring the area a little more, and realised that had I pushed on just a minute or two beyond my pre-interview walk, I would've known that Chiswick isn't actually all that bad.

I found myself a gym too.  There's a subsidised gym in the business park, but I found myself a little independent gym (West4 if you want to Google it - I'd recommend it).  Away from the hoardes of colleagues and office workers, it's set in a small residential street.  For most of the four years, it's acted as my lunchtime escape from work and from being surrounded by the same faces.  Nobody else from work ever seemed to be a member there. I guess the free Starbucks vouchers for going to the Virgin Active in the business park were just too much to resist.

It's easily to malign Chiswick.  It's easy to write it off as a place full of people living in expensive houses and driving expensive cars to expensive shops.  And there's a lot of that going on. But actually, I've enjoyed calling Chiswick my place of work for four years.  I don't yet know where I'm going to be going next, but I do know that despite the pain of the District Line every day, I'm going to miss good old Chiswick.


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