‘Following Through’ – Grand Union Canal (Brentford-Hayes-Ladbroke Grove)

A town centre in transition, a waterfront ripe for redevelopment…whilst seasonal growth along the towpath maintains a sort of natural suspension. A trio of Rastafarians on bikes, accompanied by the quiet soundtrack of reggae. A dead pike, belly up, lying on the surface as a swarm of flies balance on the undercarriage, like shipwrecked sailors on an upturned ship. Conversation with a retired Cornishman ‘doing the waterways of Britain’ via a motor home and a bike. Schoolboys clustered under a bridge in the timeless act of smoking a covert cigarette. A heritage sign for the waterborne access to an old asylum. A window on the shallows as crystal clear water reveals the weed strewn bed. A soundtrack for the journey – the metronome click of a narrow boat’s engine, a constant background hum of the M4, the occasional burst of a high speed train heading or returning from Westward (Ho!). Heathrow arrivals and departures cutting a swathe over the local playground screams. A change of demographic. Coconuts and rice as a kind of offering (carrots floating top upwards, like sinister orange sea mines). Two Polish men gazing intently at a disused wharf full of gliding perch and carp. Lager and tobacco resting on the bridge parapet, like anglers without the vital accessories. Taking pleasure from the act of observation. An Asian man sat on a folding stool, under a  main road, smoking a hookah. A kind of unofficial survey of (West) London.

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